Modern History of Russia
Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible is hardly an obscure film, but it has attracted much controversy and many misconceptions. The goal of this book is to re-examine the film in light of everything Eisenstein wrote about it. The introduction to the roundtable establishes the historical, political, cinematic, biographical, and cultural contexts that shape the book's multi-disciplinary approach to Eisenstein's work on Ivan the Terrible. The director structured the story of Ivan's life and reign in an
... e and reign in an "interrogative mode" in order to raise profound questions about the nature of violence and tyranny and the psychology of political ambition in Russia's past, in the Stalinist present, and in the history of state power more broadly. Eisenstein conveyed the history and psychology of power and the inner life of the powerful with a profusion of new cinematic methods that represented the evolution of his thinking about montage. "Polyphonic" montage — the weaving together of audio, visual, sensory, emotional, and intellectual voices—was intended to activate and intensify the spectator's experience of watching a film; to touch, move, and enlighten the audience in an all-encompassing, transformative way. By approaching Eisenstein's dynamic theories of history, visual perception, and cultural evolution in relation to one another, this study uncovers a decisive piece: Eisenstein didn't only want to show the tragic depredations of absolute rule or the universality of power hunger, and he didn't only want to create a moving emotional experience for viewers.