Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cahiers du Coco: Ivan the Terrible Part II

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 5:24 AM

[Join Ettes leader and Fond Object founder Coco Hames as she moves through the Janus Films Essential Art House DVD box set one film at a time.]

IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART II directed by SERGEI EISENSTEIN (1958)
Running time: 187 minutes
In Russian with English subtitles

I'm so sorry for the hiatus! My dog was hit by a car and killed and I've been honestly unable to consume, observe or process cinema, art, or ANY emotion properly for a while. But — for better or worse — we're back! With Ivan the Terrible Part II — yes indeed, there were parts one and three, we shall get to that ...

Admittedly, Ivan the Terrible Part II took me forever to get through because 1) I was working on a ton of other things, and 2) it's tough to get through. Eisenstein. It's in Russian. I wasn't in the mood. Then I had to go read a bunch of stuff on it to GET me in the mood to understand what I was looking at. This is where the Janus box set comes in handy because it has this amazing accompanying book that features film by film information, and it's helpful as hell. And really well written. It's the smart-people version of what I'm doing here. I also know so little about this period in history that I was dragging my feet into even putting the film on. Like a bad kid who doesn't want to go to class or do her homework. Which is the kid I was/am.

From IMDB.com: As Ivan the Terrible attempts to consolidate his power by establishing a personal army. his political rivals, the Russian boyars, plot to assassinate their Tsar.

And so much for Ivan. As for the director and auteur, mostly what I remember of Eisenstein is the meticulous study that exists of his work. Specifically the ontology of the photographic image. I remember following a professor down an Eisenstein k-hole in college, and I think that as a result my brain employs a block on revisiting it ... so cold ...

But if you've ever studied film, you know Sergei Eisenstein. In the aforementioned k-hole, I learned HE studied Japanese and learned some 300 characters of kanji which he said influenced his pictorial development. I also had a book I'd bound (by FORCE) of Eisenstein-related printouts, articles and critiques that I remember keeping on a bookshelf 11-12 years ago. I can see it clearly in my mind's eye, and yet ...

To me, what are most interesting are the PARTS of this film: It was to be the midsection of a trilogy, divided by time and war (what's with all the war, wonderful classic movies??), and as a matter of fact, Eisenstein himself died before the third installment could be finished.

I didn't want to watch this movie. That's part of why it's taken me so long to knock in on up here. I'm sorry!

Note: Jeanne Moreau (more on her soon ...) and Sergei Eisenstein have the same birthday. January 23. Not the same year. Aquarii.

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