Aleksandr Nevskiy (1938)
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I understand that this was a propaganda film, but I just couldn't get past the strident patriotism and militarism. The battle sequence was way too long for me as well.
Great cinematography, but rather cheesy and blunt. Still enjoyed it.
Alexander Nevsky may be about a 13th-Century Russian prince fighting an army of German Teutonic knights, but given that Eisenstein made in 1938, there's little doubt it's meant to be about Nazi forces amassing on the Soviets' Western border, and indeed serves as a patriotic call to arms in which the title character is not just defeated the Vikings and plans to stick it to the Mongols once he's done with the Germans, but also frequently leads his people into songs about Mother Russia. In this, and in many long, silent sequences, we recognize the film maker's roots in silent cinema, and where there's dialog, the pace is rather slow. This is quite the piece of propaganda, and Nevsky is a two-dimensional character because of it. More interesting are some of the soldiers who follow him - the blacksmith, the two rivals for a girl's affections - and through these we get an emotional context and a bit of heart. Unfortunately, everything takes too long in this film, and it's frequently tedious because of it. It seems to take forever for Nevsky to get involved, the battle is seemingly endless (and the cranked camera doesn't do the action any favors even if the shows are well composed and feature hundreds of extras), and there's a very long epilogue too. Still memorable, mainly because of some shockingly violent (albeit brief) moments.
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In 13 official lists
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This movie ranks #2 in Livejournal Russian top 100
This movie ranks #13 in Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
This movie ranks #16 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #21 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #24 in Russian Guild Of Film Critics - Best Russian Films
This movie ranks #39 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #90 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #94 in Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Narrative Films (2012)
This movie ranks #133 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
This movie ranks #182 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #197 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #475 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #669 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List