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Salient: An organ of student opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 23, No. 5. Wednesday, June 15, 1960

"Ivan The Terrible"

"Ivan The Terrible"

A spectacular run of Russian films has been on in Wellington recently: included was Eisenstein's last and most fully developed movie, "Ivan the Terrible" Part II (I). Undoubtedly the foremost foreign film to be seen in this city for many years. The film, made some fourteen years ago, was a long time in cold storage in the Soviet Union due to its supposed allegory on the Stalin regime (Eisenstein was obliged to make a humiliating recantation for Party purposes.)

Conceived as a trilogy, with the last part never made, Part II deals with Ivan's overthrow of the Boyar-dictators, and his instalment on the throne of Russia. The movie as a composite whole is magnificent; every detail is so meticulously worked out, every player is so obviously suited to his part that it is hard to point to any minor or major discrepancies in Eisenstein's direction. Two perfectly composed sequences were those in the Polish court and in the church, where Ivan encounters the wrath of the Metropolitan Philip. Everything is just so masterful: the incredible harmony between camera and lighting, the skilful blending of Prokofiev's music into the film, and the casting itself. As Ivan, Nikolai Cherkasov gives a truly unforgettable performance; his gestures (one may think a little too "method school type" at times— I don't), are purposefully executed, and his characterisation of Ivan is one of the most graceful and penetrating performances I have ever seen.

The system of grading films is as follows:

I: Excellent

II: Good

III: Average

IV: Fair

V: Poor