Monday, August 18, 2008
Sergei M. Eisenstein - Aleksander Nevsky (Александр Невский) (1938)
From Criterion Collection:
Eisenstein drew on history, Russian folk narratives, and the techniques of Walt Disney to create this broadly painted epic of Russian resilience. This story of Teutonic knights vanquished by Prince Alexander Nevsky’s tactical brilliance resonated deeply with a Soviet Union concerned with the rise of Nazi Germany. Widely imitated—most notably by Laurence Olivier’s Battle of Agincourt re-creation for Henry V —the Battle on the Ice scene remains one of the most famous audio-visual experiments in film history, perfectly blending action with the rousing score of Sergei Prokofiev.
Eisenstein's first project to reach completion in nearly ten years, Alexander Nevsky is widely regarded as an artistic and political disaster, despite its wide international popularity. Conceived as a kind of nationalist epic (and approved as such by Stalin), it resurrects the 13th-century hero Nevsky as an almost mythic guardian of the Russian heritage, and celebrates his victories against the Teutonic invaders; it was read as an anti-Nazi film during the war. It's easy to see why the mixture of religiosity, caricature and bold aestheticism has pleased many of the people some of the time. It's main interest now is that it cleared the way for the infinitely richer and more complex achievement of Ivan the Terrible.
Subtitles:English srt & vobsub