Saturday, 20 June 2015

Ivan the Terrible

Whilst reading the Strugatski's Hard To Be A God yesterday I was looking for something to give me a visual reference - Marketa Lazarová was an obvious one, but I felt I something Russian was required, and it came down to a choice between Andrei Rublev and Ivan the Terrible Parts I and II, and I went with Eisenstein's less familiar diptych (which I will refer to as one film). I had actually seen Ivan the Terrible on TV some years ago, but the memory was all but wiped from my mind, so much so I was quite surprised by the campness of the film (certainly how camp it feels nowadays) with its highly theatrical performances (none more so than Nikolai Cherkasov's wide-eyed Ivan) which might as well have been plucked from the Silent era. At one point Part II switches from b/w to blazing color for an extraordinary song n' dance routine. Watching Ivan the Terrible, Orson Welles' Shakespeare films came to mind on a few occasions - the incredible shots of faces in close-up, the cavernous low-ceiling sets, the endless long shadows; but flicking thru This Is Orson Welles, I see that Welles was none too impressed with the film at the time, and wrote a very lukewarm review in his newspaper column. Still, I thought the film was marvelously operatic.

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