Sergei Eisenstein was a Russian filmmaker who is often credited with revolutionizing the film industry.

He is best known for his silent films, particularly Battleship Potemkin (1925), which was instrumental in the development of montage theory and for creating the “Ten Commandments” of cinematic technique.

Eisenstein was born into a Jewish family in Moscow, where he studied painting before turning to filmmaking. His first short films Attack! (1916) and The Love Parade (1918) were followed by Ivan the Terrible Part 1 (1944).

In 1925, he directed Battleship Potemkin, which was based on an incident during the 1905 revolution.

The film’s scenes of mass unrest and violent conflict between sailors and soldiers on the ship’s deck has been cited as an influence on modern political protests and revolutionary movements.

After directing several Soviet classic films including Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ivan’s Childhood (1946), Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsiya (1962) and Alexander Nevsky Part 2, Eisenstein died from liver failure at age 46 in Mexico City.

Best Sergei Eisenstein Films

The following are the best Sergei Eisenstein films of all time.

1. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

 Battleship Potemkin is a 1925 silent film drama produced by Vsevolozhsky and directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It was the first feature-length film that the director made in his home country, Soviet Russia.

The plot of Battleship Potemkin tells the story of a mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin during the 1905 Revolution. The mutiny begins on a small level, but escalates into a coup de main rebellion against the Potemkin’s naval officers. The film ends with both the mutineers and the officers being killed in an ensuing gun battle at close range.

Battleship Potemkin was one of the first films to use an action screenplay to tell its story. This concept would be imitated by other filmmakers such as John Ford, Howard Hawks and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Sergei Eisenstein’s film has become one of the most influential movies in history because it changed cinema forever: it was shot in sequence, showed several different perspectives at once instead of just one angle, used montage editing techniques to create tension and allowed for multiple interpretations of events onscreen (see below).

Battleship Potemkin with Bonus Sergei Eisenstein Documentary
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov (Actors)
  • Sergei M. Eisenstein (Director) - Sergei Eisenstein (Writer) - Yakov Bliokh (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

2. ¡Que viva Mexico! (1932)    

 In 1932, the Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein created a short film, ¡Que viva Mexico! (Long Live Mexico), which was a celebration of Mexican culture. In it, he used elements from the Mayan civilization to create a celebration of Mexican culture in a visually striking way.

The film begins with an image of the Mayan calendar and then cuts to an aerial shot of Mexico City with images of the pyramids, religious temples, and cathedrals that make up the city’s architecture.

The next scene shows people dancing in unison to music provided by marimbas and guitars as they celebrate Carnaval (carnival). A woman dances with her head thrown back while another woman performs a dance that seems to be based on what is known as “paso doble” or double step.

In addition to music and dance there are also shots of traditional dances including one involving mariachi musicians playing trumpets while riding camels through town.

There are also scenes where young girls dress up as Indians and sit around campfires while singing traditional songs while others ride horses through town wearing traditional costumes.

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Que Viva Mexico
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Mara Griy, Sergei Bondarchuk, Grigori Aleksandrov (Actors)
  • Grigori Aleksandrov (Director) - Grigori Aleksandrov (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

3. Alexander Nevsky (1938)     

Alexander Nevsky is a 1938 epic historical film directed by Sergei Eisenstein based on the life of St. Alexander Nevsky, which was produced by Mosfilm. The film depicts the 13th century Russian prince’s victory over invading Mongols at the Battle of the Ice, and his subsequent conversion to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

The story is set in 1240, when the Mongol invasion threatened Kiev, then capital of Kievan Rus’, and was loosely based on the early 1260s expedition of Alexander Nevsky against the invading Mongols.

The story takes place during what became known as “the time of troubles” between Novgorod and Kiev, which resulted in civil wars between these two cities. This period culminated with the Mongol invasion of Rus’ in 1237-1238, which led to defeats for both sides.

Later that year Kievan Rus’ was divided into two parts; Galicia-Volhynia went to Poland, while Vladimir-Suzdal became part of Russia under Yuri II. In this way Alexander Nevsky’s victories over the Mongols are seen as victories over Polish invaders rather than Mongol invasions.

The film presents his story as a struggle against Christian enemies such as Wit

Alexander Nevsky
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Nicolai Tcherkassov, Nicolai Okhlopkov, Alexandre Abrikossov (Actors)
  • Sergei Eisenstein (Director) - Sergei Eisenstein (Writer) - Will Conley (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. Strike (1925)             

 Sergei Eisenstein’s Strike (1925) is a classic of the Soviet period. In the film, a strike breaks out at a factory in a small town. The workers are underpaid and overworked; their lives are miserable.

The factory management wants to use force against them and has brought in strikebreakers from another town.

The workers’ leader decides to use propaganda to win support for their cause: they will make an appeal on the radio station and then march on the factory gates armed with signs saying “We want bread.”

The strikers’ leader says that this is not enough: they must surround the factory and “convince” everyone inside to join them in closing down production. They can do this by holding meetings outside and inviting everyone inside to listen.

The strikers have no idea how many people there are inside, but they know that many people work there, so they decide to hold their meetings during working hours when most of them will be at work. They also send out flyers announcing a meeting at 1:00 pm every day for five days running (one day for each day of the week).

After these meetings, some workers come out and talk with them, but others just leave without saying anything or saying things like “You

Strike
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Maksim Shtraukh, Grigori Aleksandrov, Mikhail Gomorov (Actors)
  • Sergei Eisenstein (Director) - Grigori Aleksandrov (Writer) - Boris Mikhin (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

5. October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (1927)     

Eisenstein’s October, a ten-part epic, is one of the most visually arresting films ever made. Shot in six weeks on a budget of $1 million, this story of Stalin’s Great Terror is based on a novel by Ilf and Petrov,

and it has been described as “a film within a film.” It begins with the execution of some leading members of the Bolshevik Party and then moves through the years from 1905 to 1928, when Stalin was consolidating his power.

The film includes footage from other Soviet films shot at the same time as October, such as Yevgeny Khaldei’s The Duel and Aleksandr Dovzhenko’s Earth (1923).

Eisenstein uses montage techniques to create an impressionistic mood that captures both death and life. He also uses color extensively: red is associated with revolution; blue represents hope for better times; pink represents love;

yellow stands for gold or wealth; orange suggests warmth or passion; black suggests death or evil. In fact, “black” refers not just to black clothing but also to people’s faces — their eyes are always black-rimmed so that they seem sinister or filled

October
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Boris Livanov, Nikolay Popov, Vasili Nikandrov (Actors)
  • Sergei Eisenstein (Director) - Grigoriy Aleksandrov (Writer) - Arkadiy Alekseyev (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars’ Plot (1958)      

Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars’ Plot is a 1958 Soviet historical film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and based on the writings of Grigory Potemkin. It was filmed in Yalta and Odessa. The film’s budget was 3 million rubles and it grossed 3.5 million rubles in total, making it a box office flop.

The film is a sequel to Eisenstein’s Ivan Vasilyevich IV (1957), which tells the story of Ivan the Terrible’s childhood and early reign as tsar; this part of Russian history was relatively unknown at that time in Russia and abroad (in particular in the West).

The Boyars’ Plot takes place during Ivan’s reign as tsar after he has been crowned as such but before he becomes emperor. In order to gain support for his rule, Ivan has to deal with two opposing groups: on one side is his own circle of boyars who want him to be more like his father than his grandfather; on the other side are

Ivan the Terrible - Pt. 2
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Nikolai Cherkasov, Serafima Birman, Pavel Kadochnikov (Actors)
  • M. Filimonova (Director) - Sergei M. Eisenstein (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

7. Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1944)          

Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible is a film that is as much about its time as it is about its subject. It was released during World War II, when Soviets were being portrayed as barbarians by Nazi propaganda.

The film criticizes Stalin’s rule and portrays him as a tyrant who does not care about his people. However, Stalin was still very popular at the time, so many Russians saw Ivan’s portrayal of him as unfair and untrue.

The film opens with a fight among peasants over an old woman’s cow. A Russian prince named Dmitri takes her side over the other villagers’ and kills one of them, who dies from his wounds later on in the movie.

   

Dmitri then marries the woman, but he eventually has to kill her too because she refuses to give up her son Ivan (Sergei Eisenstein). After this event, Ivan grows up to become a strong man who becomes famous for his feats of strength and courage throughout Russia.

The movie shows how evil Russians had been portrayed during World War II and how they were trying to prove their worthiness in comparison with Nazi Germany by showing how talented their people are despite living under tyranny. The film focuses

Ivan The Terrible - Part 1
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Nicolai Tcherkassov, Ludmila Tchelikovskaia, Serafima Birman (Actors)
  • Sergei Eisenstein (Director) - Sergei Eisenstein (Writer) - Sergei Eisenstein (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. Bezhin lug (1937)    

 Bezhin lug (1937) is a Soviet silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It was one of the last films made during his lifetime, and it was also the last film he completed before his death in 1948. The title is derived from a popular song by the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka.[1]

The plot involves a group of Russian revolutionaries who are fighting against the White Army during the Russian Civil War. They are led by Denisov, a revolutionary leader who has been wounded in battle.

He arrives at a village where he meets two young lovers, Liza and Vanya, who are trying to escape from their mothers’ clutches. The film explores how these three characters deal with their feelings towards each other as they try to find their way home.[2]

The film’s title comes from Mikhail Glinka’s 1836 opera Bezhin Meadow, which has been compared to Bezhin Lug (Russian: Бежинский луг), an idyllic place in Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons.[3][4][5]

Bezhin Lug
  • Ivan Turgenev (Author)
  • 12/06/2022 (Publication Date) - Palmira (Publisher)

9. Old and New (1929)               

The first of Eisenstein’s three feature-length films, Old and New, opens with a title card explaining that this is not “a simple story about life in the Soviet Union.” In fact, it is a simple story about life in the Soviet Union.

A group of workers is shown at their work, doing what they do every day. It’s an old man who takes pride in his work and is happy to be back on the job; a young woman who has a hard time finding her place in the world;

an older woman who was once a dancer but now spends her time tending to her garden; and a teenage boy whose mother wants him to become a doctor but he doesn’t want that kind of life for himself.

Eisenstein wanted to show how people lived day-to-day lives without having any idea of what was going on around them: “There are people who are working, people who are sleeping  they’re just like all other people.

He also wanted to show how the Soviet government dealt with its citizens’ needs and desires: “How do you satisfy these needs? How do you provide for them? What kind of life does this living mean?”

10. Sentimental Romance (1930)             

The first impression of Sentimental Romance is that it’s a very simple film. The camera moves in circles around a woman, who is sitting on a bench with her head bowed. The camera focuses on her hands, which are lying on her lap. There are no other characters in the frame; only she and the camera. She looks very sad, but we don’t see why.

Then we cut to a close-up of her face, from which we can see that she has tears running down her cheeks. We hear music playing softly in the background and see that she is listening to it with closed eyes.

Her eyes open for just a moment and she looks directly into the camera, then closes them again as if there were nothing more to see or do here.

This scene lasts for about 20 seconds before we cut back to another close-up of her face, looking even more sadder than before. We hear more music playing behind her head and notice that it sounds like an organ being played softly by someone far away offscreen; there’s something plaintive about it, too.

We then cut to another close-up of

11. La destrucción de Oaxaca (1931)

Sergei Eisenstein’s masterpiece, which was directed in Mexico City and filmed in Oaxaca, is based on a play by Latin American author José Revueltas. The film tells the story of an uprising against a repressive government, which is led by a priest and his followers.

The film begins with the death of the father of one of the main characters, who has just been executed for his role in the rebellion. After his burial, the people who knew him gather for his wake:

a young man who was about to be married; his fiancee; their families; and one of his friends. It soon becomes clear that this group of people represents all those who were affected by their actions during the war years.

The film shows how these individuals are affected by living under repressive government rule: how they struggle to survive under such conditions; how they struggle to find happiness within themselves;

how they become martyrs when they try to fight back against oppression; how they question their own beliefs and goals in life; and finally, how they come together as a community when faced with adversity.

This powerful film not only sheds light on a particular historical event (the Cristero

12. Glumov’s Diary (1923)          

Sergei Eisenstein’s documentary short, Glumov’s Diary, is one of the earliest examples of a film narrative that can be described as an avant-garde text. In a sense it is more than a simple documentary:

it charts the plight of an individual who has been uprooted from his native land and forced to live in a foreign country. Directed by Sergei Eisenstein (who was born Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein on August 20, 1898),

Glumov’s Diary was first shown at the Fifth Moscow International Film Festival in 1923. It was entered into competition for the Golden Lion award and won second place; yet it did not receive an official prize during its run at the festival because it was judged too radical by festival officials.

The film begins with a close-up shot of a man sitting alone at a desk writing in his diary. His name is Glumov; he is Russian and has been living in exile abroad since 1915 when he left home to join the army after fighting against Germany during World War I.

He served as an artillery captain until 1917 when he was demobilized and sent home to join his family; but he refused to return

Glumov's Diary
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Grigori Aleksandrov, Ivan Yazykanov, Aleksandr Antonov (Actors)
  • Sergei Eisenstein (Director)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

13. Ivan the Terrible, Part III (1988)

Ivan the Terrible, Part III is a historical period drama film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and starring Gary Oldman. It is the third part in a set of film adaptations of the Boris Godunov play by Aleksey Tolstoy. The film was released on 22 June 1988.

The film begins with Russia under Ivan’s rule, and ends in his death bed. The new Tsar, Dmitri Donskoi (Gary Oldman), has been raised by his mother to hate Ivan and wants him to be killed as soon as possible.

Dmitri takes over Moscow and removes Ivan’s body from its coffin so he can be buried outside of Moscow, which would be considered sacrilege. At this point,

we see a flashback to Ivan’s first marriage to Anastasia Romanovna (Natasha Parry). She becomes pregnant with Dimitri Donskoi but he dies shortly after birth from unknown causes. Afterward, she marries another man named Andrei Kurbsky (Mikhail Ulyanov).

At this point we see Anastasia herself dying from an illness caused by a tumor on her leg which was not treated properly while still

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Ivan the Terrible (Classic film scripts)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Eisenstein, Sergei (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 264 Pages - 12/06/1970 (Publication Date) - Simon and Schuster (Publisher)

Characteristics of Sergei Eisenstein Films

 Sergei Eisenstein’s work has been described as “the most influential body of art in film history.” His films, which include the classics Ivan the Terrible, Battleship Potemkin and The General Line, are considered masterpieces of the medium.

Eisenstein’s works are marked by their visual power and stylistic innovation. He was one of the first filmmakers to use deep focus cinematography to create a sense of depth on screen. He is also known for his use of montage editing, which he pioneered with his 1927 film October.

Eisenstein was born on November 10, 1868 in Russia (then part of the Russian Empire) to Jewish parents: Isidor Isaakovich Eisenstein and Luise Rosenmstel. He attended law school at Moscow University but dropped out after only one year because he found it boring. Instead, he took up acting and directing plays at the university’s theatre troupe.

In 1902 Eisenstein immigrated to Germany where he studied art history at Berlin University under Theodor Kirschner before returning home in 1904 to work as an architect. It wasn’t until 1913 that he began making films primarily for documentaries about Russian history during World War I (1914-1918). In 1916 he met fellow filmmaker

Best Sergei Eisenstein Films – Wrapping Up

The best Sergei Eisenstein films are the ones that are able to capture the essence of their time.

The films were made in an era when cinema was becoming a dominant art form and there was a great deal of experimentation and innovation.

The films also tend to have a strong social message, which is despite the fact that they are often based on historical events or real life people.

 

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