Saturday, 28 January 2012

Пир Ивана Грозного

Пир Ивана Грозного - the Dance of the Oprochniks from Sergei Eisensteins' Ivan The Terrible Part 2, music by Sergei Prokofiev. This is a crucial scene. The Tsar, long driven mad by conspiracies around him, is locked in a struggle with his aunt and the boyars. The Oprochniks are his personal henchmen "Tied to him by blood". But as Ivan says, so is his formidable aunt, whom he admires for whacking his men with her staff when they confronted her. The film is stark black and white, to heighten the extreme contrast, and evoke the Tsar's possibly schizoid paranoia. It also means sinister, creeping shadows, stark contrasts between the luxury of the court and ascetic monks. . Ivan slides snake like through maze like corridors, his beard pointing forward, his cloak leaving a wake of menace. Ludicrously stylized shots, but which have purpose : no one acts independently in this world til the director cries "Action" and the actors suddenly stiffen into pose, eyes dilated, hypnotized by fear. There's a masque about fiery angels whom Nebuchadnezzar of the Chaldees could not burn in his furnace. (a pun on Prokofiev's Fiery Angel?) God will prevail over evil rulers. Ivan knows there's a plot to assassinate him so he invites his cousin Vladimir to a party and gets him drunk. Suddenly the film turns into colour. Early technology means the film bleeds red, which is rather appropriate. The Oprochniks dance and sing. Note the "female" mask and outfit. Something terrible is about to happen.

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