"MARKS THE TRIUMPH OF FILM AS BOTH THE SYNTHESIS AND EQUAL OF THE OTHER ARTS": EXCEEDINGLY RARE PRESENTATION COPY OF THE 1944 MOSCOW EDITION OF EISENSTEIN'S SCREENPLAY FOR IVAN THE TERRIBLE, PARTS I & II, BOLDLY INSCRIBED IN RUSSIAN BY SERGEI EISENSTEIN
(EISENSTEIN, Sergei). Ivan Groznyi (Ivan the Terrible). Moscow: Goskinozdat, 1944. Octavo, original brown paper boards. $15,000.
1944 Moscow edition of Eisenstein's script for Ivan Groznyi (Ivan the Terrible), featuring eight full-page illustrations of scenes from the film, published the same year as the Moscow premier of Part I, an exceptional presentation copy boldly inscribed in Russian by him (English translation), "To Arthur, in whose interpretation this script benefited so much… Thankfully, Eisenstein." Text in Russian.
Eisenstein remains "one of the world's most creative, pioneering and influential filmmakers… his films, as well as his writings and his theory of montage, have shaped how cinema is made and understood." From Battleship Potemkin (1925) to Ivan the Terrible, his films "still shock with their extraordinary beauty and invention" (University of California, Berkeley Art Museum). Above all, "Eisenstein stands alone as the maker of a fully historical cinema." Of all his films, Ivan the Terrible is "unique in the extremes to which it develops character psychology and an individual tragedy… Eisenstein stated that the fundamental theme in Ivan the Terrible is 'Ivan's despair'" (Goodwin, Eisenstein, Cinema and History, 210-20). His final project, it "carries to astonishing extremes his experiments in narrative architecture, mise en scène, audiovisual synthesis, and the interweaving of motifs… a work so rich in formal and stylistic invention, so strong in emotional appeal, and so evocative in significance that cinema indeed seems the natural heir of Joyce, Shakespeare, Balzac, Zola, Scriabin, Wagner, Piranesi and El Greco, Majestic and outlandish, Ivan the Terrible marks the triumph of film as both the synthesis and equal of the other arts" (Bordwell, Cinema of Eisenstein, 270, 253).
"We have in Ivan the Terrible something closer to the ever-expanding valences of Potemkin… Part I's organization into a prologue, seven majestic scenes, a brief linking segment (scene 8) and a grandiose finale allows Eisenstein to return to Potemkin's mode of constructing parallels between large-scale episodes." Ivan's "principle source was Robert Wipper's Ivan Groznyi, originally published in 1922 and republished in 1942… Stalin perceived parallels between himself and this tsar, and he was convinced by revisionist historians that Ivan had been a progressive leader. Eisenstein was expected to make a grandiose historical pageant about a ruler who had striven to unify Russia and protected it from foreign influence. Contrary to normal Soviet procedure, Eisenstein was permitted to write his own script… He had originally planned a two-part film… and Ivan's literary scenario published in 1943 contained such a division," as here, but Eisenstein also envisioned a third part. Part I premiered in December 1944 and was released in January 1945. Part II, however, was banned in 1946 when it became "one of four films denounced by the Party Central Committee." After Eisenstein wrote an imposed self-criticism, in which he "confessed to mispresenting history," he hoped to complete the planned trilogy by filming approved new scenes for Part II, but "virtually all the material shot for Part III had been destroyed." In February 1947, in a meeting with Stalin, Molotov and Zhadanov, "the leaders offered criticisms… Stalin opined that Eisenstein had failed to show 'why it is necessary to be cruel'… nevertheless he gave permission to create a new second part" (Bordwell, 223-28, 28-32). But in a year Eisenstein was dead from a fatal heart attack. In 1958, five years after the death of Stalin, Ivan the Terrible Part II finally had its long-denied premiere. Text in Russian. With eight full-page illustrations. Containing the lyrics of songs by Vladimir Lugovskii. Sergei Prokofiev provided the film's original score. Contemporary owner inscription dated 1945.
Interior quite fresh with scattered toning, faint trace of marginal dampstaining to rear leaves not affecting text, fragile boards with light edge-wear, small closed tear to spine.