Film 51 in C4 Top 100 War Films
I have to admit to knowing nothing much about this film apart from the Prokofiev score. It looked interesting on paper – a film about a Russian hero from the middle ages who fought off the Teutonic invaders.
Groan. I lied. It doesn’t look interesting at all. The beginning has lots of blond men fishing in the sea, singing songs, when members of the Mongol Golden Horde ask the dashing Alexander Nevsky to join forces. He refuses, instead preferring to raise an army to fight the Teutonic knights of the Holy Roman Empire.
It’s supposed to be a classic movie of the black & white era, but actually it’s pretty poor. The film quality isn’t good, and the acting (or in most cases, the overacting) is dire. The subplot of two friends from the Rus city of Novgorod fighting over the same woman is purely padding to an already flimsy story and the fight scenes are basically single person shots of someone swinging a sword at an unseen enemy over and over again.
Of course, the popularity of the film is not due to the acting or the film quality, but the allegorical references between the medieval Rus army fighting off invaders, and the Russian army defending itself from the threat of the Nazis. It was apparently popular with Stalin, until he entered a pact with Hitler, then it was mysteriously banned. However, once the German army began Operation Barbarossa, it was back in Russian cinemas post-haste.
Basically, it’s not a good film. It’s much improved by the film score, which is powerful and emotive. It’s for this I give an extra point, but I genuinely want my hour and half back.