Part One of Sergei Eisenstein's two-part epic chronicling the life of the 16th Century Tsar, Ivan Grozny, is one of film's most artistic and absorbing creations. Over three years in the making, "Ivan the Terrible" features... more » an operatic score by the esteemed Soviet composer Sergei Prokofiev.« less
"This DVD of the classic Eisenstein movie is a bitter disappointment. The image quality is very bad with fuzzy pictures, wanting contrast and noise. The English subtitles can not be turned off and the opening credits have been butchered (live original footage and credits replaced by stills and English credits). Avoid and wait for a decent release of this wonderful film on DVD."
M. Hafner | 05/05/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is nothing but a direct reproduction of the decrepit 35mm film. No attempt has been made at restoration; the sound track is exceptionally poor; the subtitles almost unreadable at times.Don't be suckered in. Wait for a better distributor of this magnificent film."
The Michelangelo of Cinema
Captain Cook | Leeward to the Sandwich Islands | 02/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For Westerners Ivan the Terrible is in the same mental pocket as such unlovely characters as Rasputin, Vlad the Impaler, and even Joseph Stalin. Although he definitely had a brutal and bloodthirsty side and looked rather creepy, he was also one of RussiaÕ's greatest statesmen (probably because he was so brutal and bloodthirsty and looked so creepy!). Although depicting the achievements of a Tsar, this film got the go-ahead from the Communist authorities because Comrade Stalin identified with the central character and wanted to encourage patriotism. Eisenstein's ambivalent treatment of the nature of power in Part 2, however, offended Stalin who withdrew persmission to complete what was originally intended to be a trilogy The two films that we have were made in the aftermath of the defeat of the German invasion as the Russian armies rolled West rather as they had rolled East in Ivan's day when Kazan and Astrakhan had fallen to the rising power of the Russian state. When I first saw this film, it was a little like the first time I heard "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors: it just completely STOOD OUT from everything else on TV and in the cinema. I was immediately impressed by its intensity and uniqueness. Every shot and scene are powerfully stylised, every statement emphasised and dramatised. Watching this, you realize how bland, wishy-washy, and sloppy most movies are by comparision. Artistic energy and craftsmanship are never absent for a moment. Nothing is left to chance, nothing is wasted; everything is touched by the central guiding genius. It is dense and muscular, and tense. The scenes have the same gravity and power as the scuptures and paintings of the great Michelangelo. Some people might be amazed that such artistic heights were reached under a Communist system that repressed free expression, but here in the West we also have our own form of repression, perhaps even more insidious than the whims and dictates of Comrade Stalin. I refer to the pressure of making a buck! This was one pressure that Michelangelo didn't have when the Pope commissioned him to paint the Cistine Chapel, or Eisenstein when Stalin allowed him to make the first two great parts of this triology."
Best VHS version of these films
Captain Cook | 10/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are already familiar with this masterpiece by Eisenstein, you know how difficult it is to find a print that does the brilliant photography and the Prokofiev score justice. I can recommend this VHS pair as the best version I've seen. It has the full main credits, clear electronic subtitles, translations of the lyrics and even dialogue which is often left out of other versions, and a cleaner look to the color sequences in part 2. All this with what resembles a fresh print from the negative. Highly recommended."
Superb Eisentein film
George Grellas | Cupertino, CA USA | 11/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"During World War II, with Russia in the grip of Stalin and with Hitler at its door, the greatest Russian director of his day, and perhaps ever, joined the greatest Russian actor of his day, to depict the dark and brooding story of the rise and fall of a ruthless Russian Tsar who tyrannized Russia during the 1500s. While the story hardly amounts to movie uplift, the joy and fascination here lies in the details. Straightaway, in episode one, there is perhaps the most amazing movie opening ever filmed, in the coronation of Ivan the Terrible. Those familiar with Theodor Dreyer's "Passion of Joan of Arc" in 1928 will appreciate what fascination can lie in watching the camera cut skillfully from one grotesque image to another in endlessly imaginative ways, almost as if the gargoyles themselves were about to speak. The fascinating imagery proceeds non-stop from there, in the hands of master craftsman and director Sergei Eisenstein, like a medieval masterpiece come to life, though the later segment (part two) did not quite rise to the exceptional quality of part one. A taste of the high production standards is gleaned from a musical score composed by the great classicist Sergei Prokofiev. A very, very Russian production -- dark and grim, but full of amazing levels of interest, just the kind of production spoofed by Woody Allen years later in "Love and Death." Not necessarily to everybody's taste, but a great treat for connoisseurs."