Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: Ivan Groznyy II
USSR, 1958. Mosfilm, TsOKS. Screenplay by Sergei M. Eisenstein. Cinematography by Andrei Moskvin, Eduard Tisse. Produced by Sergei M. Eisenstein. Music by Sergei Prokofiev. Production Design by Sergei M. Eisenstein, Iosif Shpinel. Costume Design by M. Safonova. Film Editing by Esfir Tobak.
Joseph Stalin commissioned Ivan The Terrible as an way to convince Russians of the 1940s that his were highly traditional politics that dated back many years, and were heroic to boot. Having been pleased with the successful portrait in Part 1, he was less than ecstatic when Eisenstein made an obviously negative portrait in the second chapter that featured Ivan as a corrupt powermonger who destroys his imperial court in the name of saving it. Growing less patient with his greedy, nagging Boyars, Ivan puts an end to them one by one through the means of his own personal secret police (ahem). This equally gorgeous film sequel again features stunning sets, opulent costumes, and fantastically rich performances, plus has a beautifully filmed colour sequence at a central banquet scene and a scene from Ivan’s childhood that was originally intended for Part I. Stalin banned the film after the release of Part 1 and the second chapter never saw the light of day until 1958 when both films were finally screened together. For this reason, and because of Eisenstein’s failing health, the third part in what was originally intended as a trilogy was never finished (about four reels of film were shot and were presented for the first time in 1988). This is an absolute pinnacle of artistic achievement in Soviet cinema, and no one who has ever loved movies should avoid seeing it.