Eisenstein | Chicago Reader


Director Renny Bartlett acknowledges that this 2000 biography of Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein is fictionalized, but with a plot line that follows the arc of his career, illustrated with excerpts from his films, it invites comparison. Instead of the profoundly original artist and thinker whose films and theoretical writings have inspired generations, Bartlett's Eisenstein is an intermittently silly man dispensing empty-headed aphorisms (“The whole point of my films [is] to tell people not to be afraid”). Simon McBurney brings an inner intensity to the role, and Jonathan Hyde is commanding as the pioneering theater director Meyerhold, though we learn even less about his theories. But Eisenstein's boyish high jinks with a male lover are portrayed with a leaden British reserve; the only element of the story that's even partially effective is the increasingly murderous repression that takes hold in the Soviet Union after Eisenstein returns from the U.S. and Mexico in 1933. 96 min.


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