Monday 14 March 2022

On (French) Blu-ray - David Hare notes the restoration of Sergei Eisenstein's final masterpiece IVAN THE TERRIBLE

van the Terrible (the great Nikolai Cherkasov) and his "aide" Malyuta (Mikhail Zharov) above in a screen from the incredible final Agfacolor reel/male ballet/orgy from Eisenstein's last masterpiece.

The last time I saw it on Oz TV every edit was accompanied by a jump, presumably sourced from a master without timing notches. It was incredibly disturbing viewing in a bad way.

The current Bach Blu-ray of this in France (used for these screens with French subs) is the restored print with restored and properly synched audio. but it's encoded in 25fps 1080 interlaced with a shitty Mpeg2 folder. The originals should be correct speed. It's better than anything else I've ever seen and the restoration is very detailed down to the individual edits which are smooth and without jerking. 

The movie as we all know was banned by Stalin who recognized in Ivan both his own paranoid evil and his betrayal of Soviet ideals) before it could even be released in 1946. It remained verboten under Politburo rule until Krushchev's gradual liberalization of the USSR saw it given limited release in 1958.
It's still underrated and misunderstood, in major part because of the post Soviet determination to deny not only the politics of the past but also Eisenstein's homosexuality which he literally ramps into the imagery and style of this extraordinary ballet sequence down to referencing the murder of Ivan's mother, and possibly his rape as a child by the Boyars.
All this of course is still poisonous slander to old time leftie homophobe critics like the appalling Jay Leyda.

These screens from a recent restoration by Mosfilm which premiered at the Berlin FF several years ago in the form of a concert presentation using Prokofiev's great score live which unfortunately also second stages the movie itself.
When will this masterpiece get the theatrical and Blu-ray lease it deserves?

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