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Film: Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible (Russian Иван Грозный, Ivan Groznyy) was Sergei Eisenstein's second (and last) sound film, a Spiritual Successor to Alexander Nevsky. Made under direct supervision of Joseph the Terrible, who idolized Ivan IV and personally intervened in the movie's production.

The first film of the projected trilogy was released in 1944, to critical applause; the director was awarded the Stalin Prize (Soviet Nobel Prize-cum-Oscar). The reasons for critical success were pretty obvious: the movie presented Ivan the Terrible, a controversial and polarizing figure at the very least, as a national hero who bravely fought external and internal enemies in his quest to unite Russian lands.

The second part, shot back-to-back with the first one, was completed in 1946 (with some sequences filmed in color) but released only in 1958, five years after Stalin's death. The reasons were also very clear: It dealt with the dark side of the tsar's personality, and depicted his Oprichnina terror campaign as Necessarily Evil - but evil nonetheless. After having been shown the completed Part II in a private screening, Stalin flew into a rage, calling it a "horror of a film" and threatening to "take care" of its creators. The movie was shelved, the director fired, and production of the third part cancelled. The third film exists only as a script, a series of sketches, and several filmed scenes first shown to the general public in 1988.

Despite the fact that the movie hasn't aged well, it is regarded as a classic of Soviet/Russian and world cinema.

This film provides examples of:


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alternative title(s): Ivan The Terrible
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