Runtime: 107 min
Country: Soviet Union
Color: black & white
Director: Sergei Eisenstein & Dmitri Vasilyev
Description: It is the 13th century, and Russia is overrun by foreign invaders. A Russian knyaz', or prince, Alexander Nevsky, rallies the people to form a ragtag army to drive back an invasion by the Teutonic knights. This is a true story based on the actual battle at a lake near Novgorod.´
Nevsky is one of the great epic war films. Sure, others, such as Birth of a Nation and Napoleon had come before, but this one is just as influential. The acting is stock, but anyone who knows the first thing about Eisenstein would know that that was part of his theory of film. This film, unlike many of his silent works, is about the heroic individual as much as it is about the group. This reflects the Stalinist philosophy that had risen to the fore by 1938. Still, his film shows us the power that can be generated by people coming together to fight something they perceive as evil. Nevsky is just one of many men. He is prince because he is strongest, but not because he is somehow different than the rest. The film's romantic angles provide more of a personal story than Eisenstein had previously allowed. Not all of the elements work and the film is probably a bit too long, but it still resonates.