Historical epic of the life and times of Ivan IV, 16th century ruler who first unified Russia. Ivan returns from retirement to fight the Boyars. — Genre: Foreign Film - Russian — Rating: UN — Release Date: 2-SEP-1998 — Media T... more »ype: DVD« less
"Right off the bat, it needs to be said that this is the older DVD version, not the new remastered Criterion Collection version. There are no extras in this DVD version by Image. The subtitles are black and white, and are difficult to read against the black-and-white film sequences. The excellent score by Prokofiev is tinny. The soundtrack was recorded in PCM, essentially a WAV file, which will not play on many older DVD players. The transition between the black and white sequences and the color sequences is not as smooth as it could be. The difference between the Image version and the Criterion version is one of quality and content, and price. The Criterion version comes as part of a boxed set, which is pricey if you already own Alexander Nevsky and/or Ivan Part I. If you don't already own Alexander Nevsky and/or Ivan I, the Criterion version is the way to go. If you do own it, then you have to decide whether to purchase the Image version and spend less money, or to replicate part of your film library with the 3 disk set from Criterion.As to the virtues of this Eisenstein compared to other Eisenstein films or all other films, the pacing will be too slow and the posed acting will be too melodramatic for most American audiences raised on modern action flicks. Film lovers will get more out of it, however, because most of them will have the background to appreciate the preservation of the silent film acting style with all its posing, stance, pregnant pauses and charactured good guy/bad guy visual "leitmotifs." The historical background of the film will be missed by your average modern western audience, who would probably fail to sort the propagandizing of Soviet filmmaking from the dramatic touches and historical details. Overall, this is worthy film to watch because of its historical value, insight into the Soviet "social realism" school, hand-in-glove Prokofiev score and brilliant cinematography. The set-up for the final murder and the murder scene itself are great cinema, achieving the pacing and suspense that seem lacking in the first half of the film. Even though you know what is going to happen, the resolution is still satisfying and surprising. If anything, see this film for that. My three stars are really to rate this DVD version because of its tinny and grainy quality and hard-to-read subtitles. Better to spend you money to get the Criterion boxed set instead, even if you do end up replicating one or more Eisenstein's which you may already own."
"This landamrk film keeps of course the acidity of his bitter significance around the brutal conflict, aroused by inner rivalries between Ivan and the Boyars who were directly involved with the assasination of his parents.
A monumental masterpiece that must be seen by all those who love the cinema."
Richard Mowbray | DC | 09/21/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dark, depressing, very gloomy. Typical of Eisenstein's war time pieces. Worth seeing for the costumes. The philosophy that Ivan was a man-of-the-people over the interests of the other nobles is so Soviet era."
"What pleasure is it to be a tsar?"
Kerry Walters | Lewisburg, PA USA | 08/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So asks a tormented Ivan in this second part of Eisenstein's "Ivan the Terrible." Ivan 2 is, I think, a better production than Ivan 1. The interplay of light and shadow that Eisenstein so masterfully achieves comes through here with splendid effect: Ivan, the out-of-control, lonely, isolated, and half-mad tsar is really a little man who casts a disproportionately large shadow. Eisenstein expresses this truth throughout the film with his camera shots and lighting. No wonder Stalin took such offence at the film, which didn't see the light of day until the Soviet Tsar of All the Russias died.
The Ivan in Part 2 is obviously crazy and power-hungry. But the viewer is able to sympathize just a little bit with him because he's so miserable. Nor are his adversaries much better. The religious authorities plot against him because they are jealous of his power--the Orthodox Metropolitan is described at one point as having a white cowl but a black soul--and Ivan's aunt Serifima, who's been his nemesis in both of the film's parts, is just as obsessed with power as Ivan.
Two magnificent scenes in Ivan 2 especially stand out: the accusatory skit in the cathedral, in which Ivan's excesses are "safely" denounced in a passion play, and the assassination of Ivan's half-witted cousin and the destruction of Serifima's schemes. They both really stand out as high points in the history of western cinema.
The theme throughout the film is that a sovereign should be good, but should be willing to take the path of evil if it's absolutely necessary for the survival of his nation--the "dirty hands" motif. Eisenstein's film is deliberately ambivalent in addressing the dirty hands issue, which was probably a coded criticism of Stalin.
The film is mostly in black and white. Towards the end, the film rolls over to color, and then in its final moments switches back to black and white. I don't think this is a deliberate artistic decision so much as a technical issue."
Ivan the Terrible Part 2
Seldom | Philadelphia, PA | 11/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the last, and least significant of the three movies in the boxed set, "Eisenstein the Sound Years". Not a bad conclusion to "Ivan the Terrible Part I", but pretty much meaningless without it.
The other two discs in this set, "Alexander Nevsky" and "Ivan the Terrible Part I" are excellent examples of art in the service of propaganda. Eisenstein and Prokofiev team up to portray evil and self sacrifice in a way obviously intended to inspire the Russian people for the conflict they were about to have with Germany.