Sergei Eisenstein drew on history, Russian folk narratives, and the techniques of Walt Disney to create this broadly painted epic of Russian resilience, the story of Teutonic knights vanquished by Prince Alexander Nevsky’s tactical brilliance.
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The propaganda in this film has to be understood within the historical context of its 1938 release date in the Soviet Union, when the territorial threat posed by Nazi Germany loomed large. Substitute Nazis for the Teutonic Knights, and ALEXANDER NEVSKY becomes something more than a thrillingly filmed and scored (Prokofiev!) chronicle of a 13th century event.
What is up with those Germans? It's like they're the apotheosis of evil. Man! This is an incredible collaboration between masters of music and cinema. Is it ironic that Walt Disney, who inspired Eisenstein, was such an Anti-Semite? Weird!
A beautiful and ambitious historical epic that proves Eisenstein is not just relegated to silent relics. It still manages to be striking and intense, especially with its battle sequences. This is greatly complemented by the beautiful cinematography of the Russian steppes.
A curious pantomime of a film, as phoney and kitsch as any Disney film, yet with Eisenstein's primal power to impress, thanks to his grounding in the brutal visual simplicty of silent cinema. To think that once I thought this was better than his "Ivan The Terrible"...
The emotional and technical power of the film outshines the littered scenes of propaganda and insulting childishness, which, hopefully, might be irony on the part of Eisenstein. For me, though, the Teutonic knights dominate the film, even as they lay silent on the ice.