(Review originally written at 12 March 2007)

The movie is based on a true battle fought between a Russian prince, Aleksandr Nevskiy against the German Teutonic knights. It's always interesting to watch a movie about a true historical battle, even when the movie itself is propaganda. For "Aleksandr Nevskiy" is truly a piece of Stalinist-propaganda, against the German enemy, shorty before the events of WW II.

The enemy in this movie is made to look extra evil. They are all masked villains, who plunder and kill and even throw Innocent little children in the fire. While the Russians are being presented as a forgiving- and loyal to the motherland kind of people. It's obvious but yet it isn't really disturbing. It makes this movie a sort of a pleasant one to watch, with a simple story and black & white characters, that don't really required to be developed. You know who these persons are and were they stand.

It seems pretty weird that the movie is named Aleksandr Nevskiy, while he in my opinion really doesn't form the central character of the movie. The movie is perhaps more Akira Kurosawa-style, with concentrating more on the 'smaller' and 'less' important characters, involved in the battle.

The acting for 1938 standards is extremely old fashioned. Also none of the actors seem to really be any natural born talents.

Also the production values aren't too high. The movie is good looking with its sets and costumes but is really lacking with its sound. Some of the sequences were even obviously recorded without sound, obviously for budget reasons. It makes the movie feel cheap at parts but it overall doesn't disturb from the overall movie.

The cinematography on the other hand is superb, as is the suiting musical score that truly uplifts the movie at times, especially during the battle sequences.

The entire movie can be perhaps seen as one big build up to the epic end battle on the ice. Yes, it really is this climatic end battle that makes this movie such a classic and a well known one. Always impressive to see hundreds of fully dressed and equipped persons charging toward each other. It always and still looks better than any other CGI battle.

But what really makes the end battle so memorable and classic is the way it is brought to the screen, with camera-angles, editing and overall style that would later pretty much influence how other big battle sequences in future movies would be brought to the screen. That even goes for movies till this present day. It makes the battle a fantastic as well as an influential one.

But it really isn't Sergei M. Eisenstein's best. Yes, there are a couple of moments of greatness and some nice symbolism but overall the movie is lacking in true creativity.

A memorable movie nevertheless, that is definitely worth seeing and even still perfectly watchable by today's standards.


About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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