IVAN THE TERRIBLE - PART I (1944/45):
In 1547, Ivan IV, the archduke of Moscow, crowns himself Tsar of Russia and immediately looks to reclaim territory, which was taken from Russia by foreign powers. His coronation is met with grumbling from the boyars, whose powers Ivan threatens. The Tsar's marriage ceremony is interrupted by the news that several boyar palaces have been burned to the ground, while a mob of commoners complains to Ivan that he's being led astray by his new wife's family (the Romanovs). Ivan calms the crowd, but it is then that envoys from Kazan arrive with a ceremonial knife and suggest he do himself a favor by using it to commit suicide. Ivan at once proclaims war on Kazan. The film then moves to the 1552 siege of Kazan. Shortly thereafter, Ivan falls deathly ill on his way back to Moscow and is closely watched by his internal enemies and supposed friends, who excitedly wait his death to restore the power of the boyars, who will make peace with Russia's enemies and surrender Ivan's conquests to guarantee the boyars' hold over Muscovy. But when Ivan does not die, the result will be a near-hysterical paranoia in the Tsar, which will lead to the formation of the Oprichniki, the medieval equivalent of later, dreaded institutions (Okhrana; Cheka; OGPU; GPU; NKVD; KGB). The crushing of the state's traitors and the seemingly endless tragedies in Ivan's life, lead him to wonder whether he is being punished by God for his rule over Muscovy. He abdicates and leaves Moscow, waiting till the common people beg him to return, thus justifying his future absolute rule by "the will of the people".
DVD-R is in Russian with switchable English subtitles. Approx. 95 mins. See film sample for audio and video quality!
IVAN THE TERRIBLE - PART II (1958):
The second part of the film opens in the court of King Sigismund of Poland, to whom Ivan's deadly rival, Kurbsky, has fled and sworn allegiance. The Poles promise to make Kurbsky ruler of the Tsar's empire, when Kurbsky launches his campaign against Russia with Polish material support. However, the battle was to commence while Ivan was away from Moscow after abdicating. Now that he's returned, the plot is foiled. In the meantime, Basmanov, head of the Oprichniki, discovers that Ivan's wife was killed by a boyar supporter. The boyars, for their part, plead with Ivan's enemies to overthrow the Tsar. A plot is hatched to assassinate Ivan at a banquet (and from this point on, the film is shown in color in two scenes). At the banquet, Ivan gets drunk while his secret policemen dance around him. It is revealed shortly thereafter what the boyars plan to do to Ivan, but the surprise they will experience thereafter will secure Ivan's place in history.
DVD-R is in Russian with switchable English subtitles. Approx. 86 mins. See film sample for audio and video quality!