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Friday, August 09, 2013

Ivan the Terrible part 2 (1958) d. Sergei Eisenstein

Ivan the Terrible in glorious color- shot on film seized from the German Army(!)

Movie Review
Ivan the Terrible, Part II
 d. Sergei Eisenstein
Criterion  Collection #88

 A huge percentage of education is text selection and guided reading. Any traditional educational scenario involves drastic time constraints, requiring a maximum of attention focusing on the selected texts- whatever they may be.  As long as those texts remained primarily in book or paper copied format that represented a huge bottleneck in the path between individuals and education.  The nexus of teachers and texts in the field of education is something much darker and deeper then the analogous role that a major label plays in music or a  Hollywood studio plays in film.

Sergei Eisenstein- Russian film maker.

  This didn't used to be the case.  Education was fairly dispersed among the population until the growth of the State Research University model that became popular in the mid 20th century. That the American state research university is fundamentally opposed to the diminution of their monopolist role in education is simple to demonstrate- why don't you try taking a look at the pan-Academic JSTOR database?  There is nothing free on JSTOR.  That hacker,  Aaaron Swartz who killed himself after being prosecuted in federal court in Massachusetts?  His theft was of these articles- and he was prosecuted by the database.

 Thus it behooves interested individuals to be interested in the liberation of foundational educational texts whatever the field of learning.  In the area of Literature, those texts are now available for free or close to it because of the long history of bringing those works to the market place in new formats created by advances in technology.

 I would argue that Hulu Plus/Criterion Collection collaboration is perhaps the most far reaching source for a specific area of education (literature/film studies), perhaps followed by the Gutenberg E Book project- or Gutenberg is first and Hulu Plus/Criterion is second.

  Ivan the Terrible part 2 is a fine, fine example of what this collaboration brings to the table.  Here we have a film that was commissioned by Josef Stalin, and shot by Sergei Eisentstein.  It was suppressed in Russia and didn't see the light of day until the end of the 1950s.  Because of the dramatic Cold War/Dictator glorifying nature of Ivan the Terrible parts 1 & 2, reception in the West was always going to be a dicey affair.

 So, the Criterion Collection/Hulu Plus arrangement began in February of 2011.  Then at some point, probably not on day one, Ivan the Terrible, part 2 was uploaded. Let's say mid 2012.  Before that moment, you could buy it on DVD or maybe see it in a film school somewhere if you took a course in Russian Cinema (and good luck with that, dear sir.)  The DVD was 30 bucks, and it was rare for video stores to carry even a single Criterion Collection title- remember the Criterion Collection section at Blockbuster? No?

 I would have never paid 30 bucks- let alone 60 for both- to watch these films, but now I'm so glad I did because in Part 2, Eisenstein dramatically switches from black and white to color and there is this the fucking bonkers dance scene- it's about 55 minutes into this Youtube video, and all of a sudden you realize why everyone compares this movie to a Disney movie. Ha! Win!  I like, sat up on my couch when this happened- I had no idea- so great.

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