Saturday, 24 January 2015

Alexander Nevsky

Just watched Eisenstein's 1938 sound film Alexander Nevsky... Leaving aside the thorny issue of state sponsored propaganda, the film remains an incredibly thrilling spectacle, as 13th century warrior-Prince Alexander answers the call from Mother Russia to defend her land against invading Germans (who think nothing of throwing Russian infants onto bonfires). The film's most famous section, the ice battle, where swirling masses of Russians and Germans clash on a frozen tundra is hugely exciting stuff; Eisenstein falling back on techniques he mastered with his silent films - the under-cranked camera, the rapid-fire cuts, creates a sequence of tremendous sweep and motion. Watching the film, I see echoes of Alexander Nevsky in later historical epics like Doctor Zhivago, Andrei Rublev, Conan the Barbarian and Kingdom of Heaven. And I'd like to think that John Ford saw a print of this at Fox and admired Eisenstein's massive monochrome skies...


  1. I love Prokofiev's music for this - incredibly stirring and dramatic, especially as you mention, during the battle scenes. I really like the rapid fire editing in Eisenstein's films - its weird that the likes of Tarkovsky should criticise fast cutting in commercial cinema when it was already there in early Russian cinema! Peter

  2. Thanks for the comment Peter and yes I agree with you about Tarkovsky - he's actually one of my very favourite film makers but what a crank I must say. He really has little good to say about anything. I found his diaries a slog to get thru I must admit...