Aleksandr Nevskiy (Alexander Nevsky) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Aleksandr Nevskiy (Alexander Nevsky) Reviews

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½ June 3, 2017
Impressive soviet classic. It renders you speechless at how it cleverly combines visual imagery with brilliant music by Prokofiev into a seamless one. An undisputed classic even though it's equally disgusting piece of propaganda (for which I coulnd't help but low the rating to four and a half stars) probably necessary at the time to justify Soviet Union's war effort to conquer the world starting with defeating their first and foremost enemy the Nazi Germany.
There are so many now recognizable scenes like, for example, approaching of the Teuton armada. It was copied in Braveheart practically shot by shot.
March 22, 2017
Eisenstein is more remembered for being a great propagandist than a critical examiner of cinematic truth, the latter of which he is far from, making his films showy and less experiential. He does this, however, with the most exceptional composition and assemblage, that it's hard not to be taken by the content. It's meant to get an emotional rise out of it's audience, ala Brechtian theatre. It's over-the-top hero/villain story paints the Germans under a cruel light, burning babies and all captured Russians. They fill the screen with dark organ music played by a black cloaked creepy looking fairy tale monster, led by someone who looks like Emperor Palpatine wearing Hondo's hat. Are the Russians free from all sin, do they not put people to death? Well it's different, if you choose not to serve in the military, the peasants will kill you, and since they're poor that's okay.

Alexander and the Russians march to triumphant music that should get a rise out of the faithful. Eisenstein is not challenging our view of war, he's glorifying it - we watch the German's slaughtered with cheerful music - who are they but faceless machines behind masks? No doubt by this time, Soviet and German ties were thinning, and this is meant to incite anti-German tidings. I even realize that emperor-looking guy is wearing a bishop-like hat with a near-swastika symbol - I'm not sure how accurate this is to 1205 Germany, but it certainly has us thinking for Germans in a modern context for this time.

Before this battle starts, I love the crane up over the spears of Russian peasants - amazing how many extras fill the frame. I'm happy to see Eisenstein agrees that this is the most memorable shot of the film, reiterating it for the final shot. It's great to see a clever battle plan - we wonder why the Russians are just waiting as the German's ride toward them at full speed, what's the idea? Suddenly, the Russian rows open up to clear columns, forcing the Germans to overstep, falling victim to an attack from the side.

It's a film about national pride - not my cup of blood. Those invested with the characters will feel something strong when the woman and the two men fighting for her walk away into the horizon. Or during the funerary procession. Or Nevsky's return to Pskov with Prokofiev blasting at full triumphance, carrying children and greeting people with smiles.
November 22, 2016
An innovative and masterfully shot piece of work that captures the spirit of a Russian hero and translates it onto the screen for audiences to feel and understand.
The musical accompaniment composed by Sergei Prokofiev is also a particular highlight as it delivers horrific chills and triumphant fanfares.
The messages and propaganda in terms of the film's social context is outdated, but the film making certainly hasn't.
For filmmakers, this is an influential film and one that deserves some more recognition outside of Russia.
½ March 5, 2016
I see this film as more a triumph in technique rather than it holding much entertainment points for the modern American. Eisenstein was one of the greatest directors to ever live, and the score by Prokofiev is justly legendary. Without the battle on the ice sequence, many of the greatest battle scenes in cinema wouldn't have the exhilarating pace and claustrophobic chaos that they do. Alexander Nevsky may be a Soviet propaganda film on the outside, but it's a film with a lot of heart and genius inside.
½ January 26, 2016
This is another Soviet propaganda film by Eisenstein. As any propaganda film, we must think of the reasons behind its commissioning. Eisenstein was a proven propaganda director to the Soviets by the time of this film. With the Nazi rise and threat of the late 1930s, a film depicting a past victory of Russians over Germans was good to inspire the masses. This is the Braveheart of its era, and Alexander Nevsky is the William Wallace character. Coincidentally both films take place in the 13th century.

I saw this film late one evening in the '90s and was awestruck. I don't think I blinked during the entire battle scene. This is one of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed. It is historically fascinating because it preserves in film forever the the Battle On The Ice of 1242, where Teutonic Knight invaded and the local militia made a staunch defense. The Knights mounted this attack during the largely forgotten Northern Crusades, which were not against Muslims, but against other Christians.

The battle scene is long and draws you in, desensitizing the viewer into a genuine portrayal of the brutal conditions of medieval warfare.
½ December 22, 2015
Sound quality is not the best but the score by Prokofiev is amazing nonetheless.
February 11, 2015
Certainly ambitious for it's time, and edited expertly by who else but Eisenstein? But, personally, not a huge fan of the epic war movie.. and to be honest, it pales in comparison to Battleship Potemkin.
August 22, 2014
Very good. 8.0/10. B+. Worth seeing at the theater.

With a fantastic use of visuals over plot, it's a masterfully directed, smartly written, and terrifically scored movie.
June 24, 2014
good historical drama
½ May 29, 2014
A portentous, majestic film by Eisenstein. Great battle scenes considering the resources of that age.
½ March 4, 2014
Although robbed of his signature montage style, "Alexander Nevsky" proves that Eisenstein was versed in more conventional filmmaking techniques that can still astound.
February 1, 2014
compare it with the cinema going in the USA at that time, this falls flat. Honestly I cannot understand this film's status as a classic. The acting is atrocious, the editing a shambles. The costumes are visibly glued together with plaster and cardboard. The story is muddy and very very badly paced, the drama overdone. Halfhearted symbolism goes nowhere, cinematography is pretty bland. And the much praised framing of Eisenstein, it's only used occassionally, but then repeated so often, it becomes annoying rather than inspiring. Instead of a continuation of the storyline we got another overdrawn sequence of Eisenstein's "brilliant framing" shots.
½ December 5, 2013
" Go tell all in foreign lands that Russia lives! Those who come to us in peace will be welcome as a guest. But those who come to us sword in hand will die by the sword! On that Russia stands and forever will we stand!"
"We have a saying: it's better to die for your country than to leave it."
December 1, 2013
"Alexander Nevsky" was Sergei Eisenstein's first sound film and it shows. It's incredibly limited in its story and characters; the acting at times is hard to fathom, the actors in specific scenes seem like they are statues who are only reciting monologues. It's supposed to depict the invasion of Russia by the Germans during the 13th century and how Prince Alexander (Nikolai Cherkasov) defeats them. I only enjoyed watching the film up to the battle scenes, once the war begins it becomes tiring to watch; most of it doesn't seem to have any strategy, it feels disorganized. Nikolai Cherkasov, who I was in awe of in Eisenstein's two "Ivan the Terrible" films, here he isn't as dominant with his incredible screen presence, mainly in the latter half where the film is more focused on the fighting. I have not read history but it's pretty clear Eisenstein's film is incredibly patriotic and propagandistic. It's handcuffed by its praise of Russia.

It was made in the 1930s, but there are several films, including Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" that are significantly better in its craft; films that were made in the same decade or in the 1920s.
½ September 8, 2013
sub title translation left a lot to be desired
August 20, 2013
A really beautiful piece of nationalist myth-building. Brilliant score obviously.
May 8, 2013
But There's Always Time For a Rape Joke!

Propaganda is a touchier subject than I think people realize. Historically, you're likely to spend as much time allied to your neighbours as fighting them. While making a film about the great warrior kings of England, for example, seems like a no-brainer leading up to World War II, those warrior kings traditionally fought either the Scots, now part of the United Kingdom, or the French, now the allies of that same country. So [i]Henry V[/i] was problematic. Similarly, when today's film was initially made, the Soviets had signed a non-agression pact with the Germans, whom they were fighting in the historical events of the film. The film was held out of release until such point as the Germans violated that pact. Just showing the unanimity of the Russian people was not enough, you see, nor was showing their strength in battle. You had to show them fighting against the right enemy. Especially if you were Stalin.

It is the thirteenth century. Russia, barely united as a country, is surrounded on all sides by her enemies. To the east, the Mongols. To the northwest, the Swedes, whom the Rus have just defeated with the leadership of a prince called Alexander Nevsky (Nikolai Cherkasov). He wants to go back home and live in peace, but the Germans are invading, and the people need leadership. The nobles and the Church are inclined to just let the Germans have their way, but the peasants are not, and they need a great leader to help them in their struggle. Other characters include Vasilisa (Aleksandra Danilova), a boyar's daughter who joins the army to avenge her father's death at the hands of the Germans; and Vasili Buslai (Nikolai Okhlopkov) and Gavrilo Oleksich (Andrei Abrikosov), a pair of warriors who both wish to wed Olga Danilovna (Vera Ivashova), herself a fair maid who swears she will only marry the one who is more valiant in battle.

You don't have to actually see the movie to see the propaganda, I trust. One of the problems I have with Soviet film is that even the best of it is frequently made to serve the purposes of propaganda more than the purposes of cinema. That's not to say this film isn't well-made. Certainly the technicalities of the famous Battle of Ice are noteworthy, if nothing else about the film is. On the other hand, the whole of the film is kind of boring to me. For example, I think that, if Olga doesn't care for either man more than the other, she shouldn't marry either. (Since marrying both is clearly not an option!) Once I got through the technical proficiency of various of the scenes, there wasn't that much else that interested me--my distaste for extended battle scenes is something I've brought up many times before, I think. Besides, there's no real suspense--I assume that Soviets watching it were as familiar with the story as, well, the British of that time were with the story of Henry V.

Not that knowing how something is going to end is necessarily a death-knell for a film, of course. Leaving aside the movies that I'll watch over and over, and the fact that I still cry at the end of [i]Roman Holiday[/i] every time I watch it, I knew how [i]1776[/i] was going to end the first time I watched it, too, and I still enjoyed it. (And now watch it for Independence Day every year, of course.) I won't even attempt to argue that [i]1776[/i] isn't propaganda, though it does say something about the American character that it is! However, where [i]1776[/i]--and, yes, [i]Henry V[/i]--work is that they really try to develop the historical figures into humans. The king may be but a man as I am, but that means he [i]is[/i] a man. He is not a perfect, distant figure who exemplifies all of our virtues and none of our vices. I came away with no more understanding of Alexander Nevsky the man than I did before the movie started, and I recognized several flaws of the Stalinist views while I was at it, surely the opposite of what Stalin wanted.

The Soviet Union, especially under Stalin, had a strange attitude toward women. Officially, women were the equals to men, and it was evidence of Decadent Western Oppression (TM) that women weren't the equals of men in the US and our allies. However, it still wasn't true. Only two women were full members of the Politburo, and one of those served from 1990-1991, at a time when there were two women serving as US Representatives from Connecticut. (Yes, the US Congress is larger than the Politburo was, but still!) Yes, the Soviets sent the first woman into space, but she was also the last woman in space for nearly twenty years. Vasilisa fights in Nevsky's army, but only to avenge her father, and Olga doesn't. I do not feel comfortable picking on the fact that neither woman really has personality, because hardly anyone in the movie does, but the only other woman is Vasili's mother (Varvara Massalitinova), whose only interest is getting her son married off.
½ April 20, 2013
Well well. I was expecting much from this and got little. The setup is easy. Brave peasant russians help the noble prince defend the motherland against Evil Germans. And they really are evil...almost like the Nazi's. The church also gets a bad rap. If the script had any subtly at all or the famous battle scene amounted to anything more than a few thousand extras hitting each other with rubber axes, I might be able to forget that this is just blatant propaganda.
½ April 19, 2013
Good Russian films are incredibly hard to find. I think I was too young to appreciate just how good this was when I first saw it. I'd love to see it again one day.
September 8, 2012
The best movie ever. No other movie has such an excellence in movie and music
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