Ivan the Terrible Parts I and II

We're combining two films this week, in part because they are the first two chapters of a planned trilogy (wikipedia even lists them as one film) and in part because one of the films does not exist as it's own proper Spine number in the Criterion Collection.

Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible (Part I 1944 and Part II 1958) is an historical epic about Josef Stalin's favorite Czar, and an early unifier of all of Russia, or all the Russias, as the case may be. The first film I'm sure Stalin loved as it paints Ivan as a strong leader with clear Stalinesque parallels. The second dives into the man's troubles and violent treatment of just about everyone he could treat violently, and Stalin stopped appreciating the comparison. Which is why the Part II wasn't released until five years after Stalin's death (and, sadly, ten years after Eisenstein's).

Alexander Nevsky

Alexander Nevsky, one of Sergei Eisenstein's famous Soviet historical epics, is a monstrous and mounstrously propagandistic film that has left all sorts of influence in its wake. Pat and I aren't really into it, even with it's massive battle sequences.

It is also the film that marks the point in our journey where our episode numbers and Criterion's Spine numbers being to irrevocably drift. Nevsky stands alone as Spine 87, while also being contained in a box set with Ivan the Terrible Parts 1 and 2 as Spine 86 which we'll talk about next week in a double episode. Ivan the Terrible Part 2 has a standalone release as Spine 88, but not Ivan the Terrible Part 1 which is confusing and dumb. Criterion, stop being confusing and dumb.