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Saturday, 10 December 2016

Sergei Eisenstein desecrated again - David Hare reports on the (French) Arte TV broadcast of IVAN THE TERRIBLE PT 2

(Pillaged, as usual and with grateful thanks, from David's Facebook post and a subsequent FB conversation with Michael Campi. For background to the continuing outrage go here to this earlier post by David.)

The image below is of Ivan Pt 2 from the same Berlin "event" last week. Perhaps the biggest insult is that more than half the astounding ten minutes of the Agfacolor all male Boyar ballet/orgy sequence is now presented in multiple split screen, again with all the focus on the conductor, soloists and the band rather than the damn film. 
French TV image of a broadcast of an Ivan the Terrible Pt 2 "event" screening
(Click to enlarge)
For those who are curious, the score is a fully scored edit and restoration of the first intended Prokofiev music for the movie including chorus and solo voices which was essentially removed from Eisie's edited two parts. Part 2 although completed in 1945 was not legally screened until the late 50s when the Stalin "anti formalist"ban lifted under Krushchev of course. The score is not without interest but it is effectively superfluous to the movie as it exists. A side note at best. 
And nowhere does the telecast for either part give information about the provenance of the film elements. There is a chasm in quality between this new video version, for instance and the sources for the Criterion Eisenstein boxset version which runs the gamut of film related deficiencies and flaws including the noteworthy visual jumps (hiccups) at every edit (and there are more than a few in your average Eisie picture) which are almost certainly timing notches from an uncorrected raw dupe negative. So I am obliged to assume in the absence of any other information this completely cleaned up and stabilized print is the long awaited restoration.. But of course such mere film related information is clearly unworthy of accreditation on the Arte broadcast, which after all is all about the score that was never going to be part of the movie anyway and which qualitatively takes the limelight. Never mind some campy old 40s Russian movie.


Michael Campi: Trying to be optimistic, this presentation should be a one-off for television and never make its way to commercial discs for repeated playing. More like the HD presentations of opera and ballet at cinemas and on television.

David Hare:  MIchael I'm sure that will be the case. I am just having a good old whinge at the powers that be in Arte HQ and their mindless devotion to "event" television. But of course this whole fucking package is pre-designed for international repetitions. You just never go to these things. Its like trying to eat the food at L'Ami Louis.

Michael: For the moment we can be content with the Criterion DVDs which one day they might upgrade to BD. Perhaps there is a grander Eisenstein plan.


David: There is a grand Eisie restoration plan and it's right here in my head. It's been there for years ever since the announced Ruscico restorations of all the sound pictures, the two Ivans in particular. I don't care if the new restos are eventually released by Criterion or whoever else, so long as they're done while I'm still breathing.

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