Aleksandr Nevskiy (1938) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester / Frank Strobel

Aleksandr Nevskiy
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dmitriy Vasilev
Writer: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Cast: Nikolay Cherkasov, Nikolai Okhlopkov, Andrei Abrikosov, Dmitriy Orlov, Vasili Novikov, Nikolai Arsky, Varvara Massalitinova, Valentina Ivashova, Aleksandra Danilova, Vladimir Yershov, Sergei Blinnikov, Ivan Lagutin, Lev Fenin, Naum Rogozhin
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Sergey Prokofiev, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, sung by the Wiener Singakademie and Marina Prudenskaya, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 21.11.2019

In 13th century Russia, foreign forces have overrun the country. Aleksandr Nevskiy (Nikolay Cherkasov) thought that he had left war behind and could spend the rest of his life as a fisherman. But his reputation makes him the ideal man for the remaining Russian forces to rally behind – and he finally agrees to lead them all to victory against the invadors.

Eisenstein definitely knows how to make propaganda and Aleksandr Nevskiy is no exception there. Accompanied by the entire ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and the Wiener Singakademie made watching it extra-special though, because size of the orchestra and choir matched the size of the film.

The film poster showing a drawing of a knight - Aleksandr Nevskiy - on a rearing horse.

Aleksandr Nevskiy has amazing visual language. It’s simply a stunning film, with every frame geared towards underscoring the heroics of some and the villainousness of others. It wants to make sure that you leave the film thinking that Russia really is the greatest nation and that every single Russian has to do their part in this greatness. Also, nobody fucks with Russia. I can only imagine how effective it is when you’re a Russian, it’s certainly affective for me.

That’s also due to the fact that it’s just impressive to watch about 100 people sitting on a stage and making music together – as was the case here. Tchaikovsky’s music is perfect, and I can’t imagine it being performed with less people than that – I doubt that it could have kept up with the film otherwise.

A long train of people walking.

That being said, some parts didn’t quite age that well and seem a bit over the top nowadays. Plus, the whole love triangle was a bit much – especially since Vasily (Nikolai Okhlopkov) and Gavrilo (Andrei Abrikosov) were obviously destined to be with each other instead of any woman.

The film does run a tad long, but it’s still a force of a film that is definitely worth seeing.

Aleksandr Nevskiy (Nikolay Cherkasov) in an heroic pose.

Summarizing: Classic for a reason.

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