Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alexander Nevsky

Sergei Eisenstein, Russia, 1938, bw (8.8*)
Memorial Day War-a-thon Film #22
In 1242, Russia in being invaded by two sides - the Mongols from Asia to the east; and by the Germans Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire from the west, the European side. Novgorod is the last free, unconquered city in Russia. The population, calls on the Prince Aleksander Nevsky for help in organizing the defense - he had defeated Swedish invaders in a previous battle.

His plan is to lure the Germans onto a giant frozen lake, which is one of the great battles in cinema, shot in beautiful black and white. [see photo below] This movie was made on the eve of a threatened invasion of Russia by Germany, just before the outbreak of WW2. The idea was to obviously make pro-Russian, nationalistic propaganda. Nonetheless, it is an overwhelming, marvelous, stunning powerful masterpiece.

If you can forget the ideology, which is that Russia will always use her winter to her advantage in repelling invaders, and watch it as art, you will witness perhaps Eisenstein's greatest work, and a black-and-white classic.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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