2 DVD set for connoisseurs of the epic film, Alexander Nevsky. On the first disc is the film in its original format, complete with hard-encoded subtitles put on the film in 1938 and the original score in all its monophonic and scratchy glory. On that disc is a companion film, Schastye, described below. The second disc contains the feature film in its restored version with a vastly improved audio track and switchable subtitles.
A true find for Eisenstein films, the two DVDs have been priced almost as if you were buying only one disc! The description below is for the one disc with the original film. The second disc would, of course, have the same description except for the fact that the quality is DIGITAL. It, too, is 108 mins. in length.
SCREEN SHOTS AND VIDEO SAMPLES ARE OF BOTH THE ORIGINAL, NON-DIGITAL VERSION AND THE NEWER, DIGITAL RESTORATION.
ORIGINAL, UNRESTORED VERSION STILLS:
RESTORED VERSION STILLS:
ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938):
The film depicts the 13th century conflict between the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire and the Russian people of Novgorod. Alexander Nevsky rallies the people of Novgorod and at a battle on the surface of the frozen Lake Peipus, the outnumbered Novgorodians defeat the Germanic invaders. Alexander Nevsky was made during the Stalinist era, when the Soviet Union was the arch enemy of Nazi Germany (and vice versa). Stalin directly requested that Eisenstein make a film that would portray German aggression and inherent antagonism against the Russian people. The film contains many elements of political allegory that reflect the political situation of the 1930s. The helmets worn by the Teutonic soldiers resemble larger versions of the helmets worn by Wehrmacht soldiers during the interwar period, while in the first draft of the Alexander Nevsky script, swastikas even appeared on the invaders' helmets. Unfortunately for Eisenstein, the film was released a few months before the signing of the non-aggression pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). The film was, therefore, suppressed and not shown in theaters. This changed in 1941, after the German attack on the Soviet Union, and the film began to be shown in many Soviet cinemas. Although the film is visually impressive, its soundtrack suffers from less-than-satisfactory sound quality, because Stalin's impatient supervision over the film production led to the premature confiscation, review, and approval of the film while its soundtrack was still in the process of being edited. Our version is from the original print, which has this original score. Some of the newer productions have much better sound; but enthusiasts of the film will appreciate this version faithful to the 1938 print, inferior soundtrack, outdated and stilted English subtitles, and all! :-). (108 mins. Overall, in very good quality. In Russian with Hard Encoded English subtitles).
SCHASTYE (Le Bonheur / Happiness) (1932):
Clearly influenced by Russian traditional fairy tales and the surrealist avant-garde, Medvedkine made this funny and caustic tale of the adventures of a Russian peasant. An accurate description of the film would be to describe it as a SOVIET fairy tale, in which the plight of the peasantry in CzaristRussia at the hands of the government, the Kulak and the Orthodox Eastern Church is described, lamented and, eventually, "solved." Eisenstein upon seeing this film was quoted to have said: 'Today I saw how a Bolshevik laughs." For the politically aware, a very, very entertaining film. (64 mins. In very good quality. Silent film with French and English subtitles).
DVD-Rs ARE APPROX. 172 + 108 MINS. REGION FREE.