In his final masterpiece, Sergei Eisenstein revolutionized the screen biography, departing from the conventions of the genre to mount some of his boldest experiments. Ivan the Terrible, a two-part epic about the notorious Russian Tsar, is fueled by what the great director-theorist called “expressive movement,” the staging of physical action to evoke intense emotions. Though Ivan is often considered less formally inventive than Eisenstein’s most celebrated montage-driven silent films, including Battleship Potemkin, its elaborate set pieces are filled with pictorial techniques that produce powerful, sometimes bizarre effects. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, now streaming on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, scholar David Bordwell gives us a twelve-minute dose of film school with Ivan the Terrible, Part II as his focus, using one key sequence to illustrate how the director incorporated the languages of painting and dance in his own style. Check out the above excerpt, then head to the Channel to watch the whole piece alongside our edition of the film.
A Neglected Reggae Classic Finally Gets Its Due
Now playing on the Criterion Channel, Franco Rosso’s underappreciated drama Babylon is one of the most essential portraits of the immigrant experience in British film history.
From Innocence to Experience: A Conversation with Charles Williams
The director of the Palme d’Or–winning short film All These Creatures, which is now available to stream on the Criterion Channel, discusses the challenges of depicting mental illness through the eyes of a child.
The Extravagant Passions of Italian Maestro Raffaello Matarazzo
Italian cinema of the 1940s and ’50s may be most associated with the legacy of neorealism, but the tearjerking melodramas of this critically underappreciated director dominated at the box office.