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IVAN THE TERRIBLE – Sergei Prokofiev

October 3, 2016 Leave a comment

ivantheterrible100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Josef Stalin had always admired Tsar Ivan IV, AKA Ivan Grozny (Ivan the Terrible), for his brilliance, decisiveness, and success as a powerful and resolute leader of the Russian people. Stalin saw himself as the incarnation of Ivan and when he became aware that filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was also interested in the man, he ordered him to make a film with himself as author and director. Eisenstein understood his task and sought to create a narrative that extolled Ivan as a national icon and hero. The story would offer a trilogy of films, which covered the three stages of his life; part 1 would portray his childhood, coronation and early reign. Part 2 would focus on the Boyar plot, and Part 3 would cover his final days. The right cast was needed to realize his vision, so he brought in Nikolay Cherkasov to play the titular role. Joining him would be Serafima Birman as Efrosinia Staritska, Pavel Kadochnikov as Vladimir Staritsky, Mikhail Zharov as Malyuta Skuratov, Amvrosi Buchma as Alexei Basamanov, Mikhail Kuznetsov as Fyodor Basamanov and Lyudmilia Tselikovskaya as Tsarina Anastasia. Read more…

ALEXANDER NEVSKY – Sergei Prokofiev

November 9, 2015 2 comments

alexandernevsky100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Film director Sergei Eisenstein had secured the favor of Soviet dictator Stalin with two films, which extolled the revolution and Communist party; The Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October: Ten Days That Shook The World (1928). Unfortunately, a misguided foray to the West to make films unrestrained by the demands of Soviet Realism caused him to fall out of favor. Upon returning to the Soviet Union in 1932 he was slowly rehabilitated and fortune smiled upon him when Stalin approved production of a film about Alexander Nevsky. Dimitri Vasilyev was assigned by the Ministry of Culture to keep Eisenstein on schedule and budget. The screenplay would be written by Eisenstein and Pyotyr Pavlenko. The telegenic Nikolay Cherkasov would play the titular role and be supported by Nikolay Okhlopkov as Vasili Buslaev and Andrei Abrikosov as Gavrilo Oleksich. Sergei Eisenstein made Alexander Nevsky during the dark pall of the Stalinist era. The film offers an obvious allegory on the historic Germanic-Russian animus, as well as the escalating distrust and tension felt with the Nazi regime. The story celebrates Prince Alexander Nevsky, who achieves an apotheosis, passing unto legend after he leads the armies of Holy Mother Russia to victory over the crusading Catholic Teutonic Knights. Read more…