Not a Film but a Nightmare: Revisiting Stalin's Response to Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, Part II.
These factors undoubtedly played a role in Stalin's about-face, but I want to explore another, entirely overlooked possibility. There is evidence to suggest that Stalin--and Lavrentii Beria, Viacheslav Molotov, Andrei Zhdanov, and others in Stalin's inner circle who chimed in--hated Ivan the Terrible, Part II, for another reason altogether: its pervasive, inescapable, often humorous, and always defiant homoeroticism. I believe that the homoerotic subtext, which does not appear very "sub" to anyone watching Part II today, was not only legible to Kremlin filmgoers in 1946 but rattled and angered Stalin. The evidence for my claim is necessarily speculative, but it is based on close reading, and rereading, of the documents that record Stalin's response to Ivan, Part II and an examination of scenes that illustrate Eisensteins usage of antinormative sexuality to raise questions about sameness and difference and antipathy and desire in politics as well as sex. The history of archival publication in the late and post-Soviet period is partly responsible for masking any hint of this aspect of Stalin's response. A single document, published for the first time in 1988, has come to dominate our understanding of Stalin's reaction to Ivan the Terrible, Part II. This is the transcript of Stalin's Kremlin conversation with Eisenstein that Stalin orchestrated in February 1947 and that displays him at his most typically controlled and controlling. (5) Documents that have come to light since show a very different initial reaction and encourage us to reread and rethink the tenor and focus of that famous conversation. Nothing connected with the production and fate of Eisensteins Ivan the Terrible was straightforward and numerous misconceptions have accrued to its interpretation and reception history due to the typical silences and complexities of documenting the Stalin period. This article is an attempt to reconsider some documents that have been taken at face value and modify our understanding of Eisensteins great masterpiece and Stalin's various responses to it.
Film screenings were common events in the Kremlin, as Stalin liked to weigh in on new movies. He did not usually intervene in day-to-day production decisions, but his opinion of the finished product determined a film's fate. (6) Ivan the Terrible, Part II, was a special film in many ways. (7) It was commissioned by Stalin in January 1941, and although production was repeatedly postponed due to the war, it was a prestige project. Lavishly budgeted with expensive sets, costumes, and authentic period props, Eisenstein made use of this status to take his time, continually run over budget, and stubbornly ignore deadlines. He also made use of Stalin's patronage. On at least two occasions when film industry administrators pushed him to hurry or challenged his decisions, Eisenstein wrote directly to Stalin, requesting--and obtaining--his support. (8) Stalin had personally decided that Part I be awarded a Stalin Prize, after the prize committee twice refused to nominate it. (9) However, when Stalin sat down to watch Ivan the Terrible, Part II, on 2 March 1946, it had been more than a year since he had seen Part I and much had changed in the meantime. Eisenstein himself was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack he suffered on 2 February at the party celebrating that years Stalin Prizes. He had only that day submitted the completed version of Part II. In the larger world, if late 1944 (when Part I was completed) had been a moment when Stalin could feel cautious optimism about the victorious end to the war, 1946 brought major domestic problems and emerging international conflicts. The war was over, but the country was suffering from serious postwar disorders: mass demobilization, displacement, migration, the consequences of wartime forced migrations and infrastructure destruction, hunger and famine, and rising new international tensions. Just weeks before the screening, Stalin had given a major speech that is considered one of the catalysts of the Cold War, signaling renewed militarism and hostility toward the Western powers. He was also well aware of the problems of depicting rulership in history and biography, having watched writers and artists struggle for more than a decade to produce a satisfactory biography of himself or an acceptable historical and artistic treatment of Ivan the Terrible, including Eisensteins controversial Ivan, Part I. (10) Eisensteins Ivan, Part II, was the last of the works on the early modern tsar that Stalin had commissioned before the war started. (11) It had taken a long time to complete and had cost a lot of money, and Stalin was still seeing only Part II of a projected three-part film. For all these reasons, when the lights went down in the Kremlin screening room, Stalin would have approached the film with heightened and conflicted expectations.
What Stalin Saw
Ivan the Terrible, Part II, opens with Sergei Prokofiev's majestic and ominous "Tsar Ivan" leitmotif playing over several minutes of credits followed by a few frames from Part I to catch us up with the plot. As the action begins, we find ourselves in the palace of the Polish King Sigismund. (12) Poland is Russia's primary enemy, and the palace provides the location for Andrei Kurbskii, Ivan's closest friend before becoming Muscovy's most notorious traitor, to go over to the enemy. Our first view of Sigismund displays him lounging rakishly on his throne, a campy travesty of power that recalls images from earlier in Ivan the Terrible as well as Eisenstein's 1928 film, October (Fig. 1). These opening shots and the action that immediately follows--the first thing Stalin saw--amount to a coy, extended bit of sexual double entendre as Kurbskii pledges fealty to Sigismund in a kind of flirtation ritual. Shot from an angle that makes the analogy of proffered sword and erect penis hard to miss, Kurbskii, on his knees, unsheathes his sword and hands it to Sigismund, who examines it suggestively and hands it back for Kurbskii to kiss. Next, two of Sigismunds courtiers step up to bring the king a medallion for Kurbskii, which Sigismund places around Kurbskii's neck. The courtiers are dressed in what can only be described as bizarrely and conspicuously feminized versions of the oprichniki's black, high-shouldered tunics (Fig. 2). Here Kurbskii is again depicted in such a way as to suggest another sexual position. He is shot in low-angle close-up, on his knees in front of the King, with a swoon of desire on his face as Sigismund consummates their alliance by lowering the medallion around his neck.
The palace scene culminates in Sigismunds speech (5:40-5:46). The king rises from the throne to announce his plan to destroy Russia and isolate it from "Enlightened Europe." This threatening and bellicose statement, however, is delivered from an inviting, conventionally feminine pose: one knee slightly bent, legs close together, one shoulder back, elbows held in, first one arm then the other raised with a little swirl of the hand. Sigismund moves as if dancing a mazurka, not delivering a call to arms (Fig. 3). The courtiers respond to the speech with smug satisfaction until a messenger arrives from Moscow. He runs into the court to announce that Ivan is not, in fact, the weakling deserter that Kurbskii claimed he was. Instead of a wounded bear caught in his lair, Ivan has returned to Moscow from his retreat ready to fight, leaving Kurbskii embarrassed and useless to Poland. Sigismund turns on his heel with an irritated little flip of his gloves, signaling everyone to follow him. The camera tracks back and cranes up, showing us a frustrated Kurbskii angrily kicking the messenger in the now empty hall. (13)
Visually and rhetorically, Sigismunds palace is the opposite of Ivan's palace in Moscow. Angular geometry and binary alternations dominate the design, with the yin/yang, even/odd patterns that the dialectician in Eisenstein loved. The design was not original to Eisenstein but was appropriated from well-known prints of European courts and turned into something uniquely his. The checkerboard floor, the huge, stylized tapestry of one black and one white knight jousting on the wall above the king's throne, shiny surfaces and clearly marked space with static, mathematically placed groupings of people signal a binary comparison that both defines and parodies the conventional rationality and claims to civilization of "the West." (14) In contrast, Ivan's court is all smooth, rounded contours, deep shadowy spaces, strangely proportioned portals, and unsystematically organized crowds. Unlike the sexually ritualized and rationalized court of "the West," the Russian spaces are sexually suggestive and organic. Eisenstein instructed his set designer and cinematographer to represent the Dormition Cathedral as a womb; he made a series of drawings (now lost) that show Ivan's entrance into the cathedral at the climax of Part II as a phallus. (15)
The contrasts seem obvious: Russia is barbaric, backward, religious, straitlaced, and apparently weak but really strong, while Poland is secular, civilized, advanced, decadent, and apparently strong but really weak. Satirical exaggerations throw all these categories into question and invite us to look under the surface not only to see sameness where difference reigns but to question such abstract and ideological categories in the first place. Eisenstein uses the double binary (checkerboard West and East-West) not simply to contrast Russia and the West but to question the binary conventions of East-West difference. The markers of Western self-proclaimed civilization and rationality and images of black/white pairing and alternation are superimposed on a scene that visually recalls Ivan's coronation at the beginning of Ivan the Terrible, Part I. This "sameness underlying difference" is analogously inscribed in the collapsing of gender difference, which is then also given a comic/tragic spin by collapsing conventional assumptions about gender roles (behavioral and visual markers of feminine and masculine) with sexual roles (male/female and male/male desire). When apparent difference becomes effaced or muted, underlying sameness becomes viable and vivid, while still in productive tension with difference.
These binaries and collapsed binaries are rooted in some of Eisensteins most fundamental principles of thought and composition. Sexual difference and androgyny, or what he called "BS"--bisexuality--were central to his thinking about human psychology and the production and perception of art. In brief, he believed that everyone has access to an early stage of embryonic development before sex and gender were differentiated, and that that link between sexual differentiation and sexual blurring or exchange is but one of the ways that we join our instinctive, animal selves with our active, rational selves. "Art's magic," he wrote in 1944, arises from its appeal to both at the same time. (16) In Ivan, as I have indicated, Eisenstein used issues of sameness and difference as related to sex and gender to coincide with--and to mutually reinforce--issues of sameness and difference in the complicated comparisons of Russia and the West, Sigismund and Ivan, and Kurbskii and Ivan, comedy and tragedy. In the immediate postwar context from mid-1945 on, these issues of power took on even greater meaning as new international uncertainties arose.
The Polish court is a great example of Eisensteins use of difference, the blurring of difference, and the inescapable mirroring of binary pairs. In Eisensteins style of imaginative appropriation and wide-ranging webs of associations in Ivan, seemingly random and seemingly excessive detail have both an anchor in a historical source and a role to play in the complex layers of the doubling and redoubling discourse of sameness and difference. Taken all together, these image systems raised questions about the prescribed heroic portrait of Ivan as well as the state's right to dictate artistic production in the first place. (17) The campy, theatrical, feminine markers associated with the men in Sigismund's palace, for example, sprang from diverse sources. The high shoulders of Sigismunds courtiers' costumes have a historical source: Polish hussars during this period literally wore wings into battle. (18) Used to frighten their enemies, the courtiers' "wings" have a parallel origin in Russian culture: the high shoulders of the oprichnik costume derive from the Romanov double-headed eagle, as Eisenstein shows us in a drawing (Fig. 4). The wings may also recall Mikhail Kuzmin's well-known 1907 novel, Wings, in which growing wings was a sign of acknowledging one's homosexuality. (19) Sigismunds costume is a camp version of relatively common 16th-century male dress practices. In numerous Tudor portraits, men wore large earrings, lacy cuffs, and intricately decorated pantaloons. Francis Drake, Sir Robert Carey, and Sir Walter Raleigh were all painted wearing earrings; even Colin Firth, playing the fictional Lord Wessex in Shakespeare in Love, gets an earring. Eisenstein makes the association explicit in one of his production notes on how to portray the Polish king: "Sigismund--absolument effemine--tres gracieux (tres Henri III)" (Fig. 5). (20) Portraits of the 16th-century French king Henri III, who also briefly occupied the Polish-Lithuanian throne and was widely rumored to be homosexual, portray him wearing an earring and sporting the goatee we see on Eisenstein's Sigismund (Fig. 6). But a man could wear earrings, lace, and high heels with ruffles and still strike a conventionally, male-marked pose in the 16th century. Unlike the men in most of these portraits, Sigismund's posture denoted him as conventionally effeminate. His pose is a camp pose; that is, his conventional markers of effeminacy define a man performing as a woman. If this posture is not marked as homoerotic necessarily, its effeminacy is a conventional marker of homosexuality for mid-20th-century Europe, when the film was made. (21)
Sigismund wields power like Ivan, but the typical male imperiousness and aggression in his speech is cloaked in the come-hither coquettish power of his costume and gestures.
In making Sigismund and Kurbskii effeminate men who act out a ritual of political betrayal that looks like a sexual union, Eisenstein plays with the arbitrariness, and therefore malleability, of gender markers, a hallmark of camp as defined by Susan Sontag in her foundational essay on the subject. (22) Almost everything Sontag said about camp applies to Ivan. Its acting is marked by exaggeration and artifice. Its characters are almost all androgynous. Gender is "convertible" and camp depicts "Being-as-playing-a-role." But according to Sontag, Eisenstein failed at camp because Ivan the Terrible is too successful as art. While Ivan the Terrible juxtaposes the serious and the frivolous, the moral and aesthetic, and content and style as camp does, camp valorizes the frivolous and the aesthetic; style always wins over content. Eisenstein is too serious for camp and not extravagant enough. If camp style always goes over the top, Sontag argues, the narrative gravitas in Ivan continually weighs it down and keeps it within the realm of the real. Ivan the Terrible may not strictly be a work of camp, but Eisenstein uses the distinctive features of camp--its arbitrariness, its mutable gender markers, its performativity--to point to the arbitrary assignment of sameness and difference in political and cultural hierarchies and to raise questions about the legitimacy and claims to authority of absolute rulers. The very malleability and reversibility of gender markers is mapped onto the malleability and reversibility of cultural markers. So, for example, inasmuch as we see in our enemies a projection of our unspoken fears about ourselves, the homoerotic Polish court is construed as a projection of Russia's fears of weakness, which itself is a commentary on the rhetoric of military strength that was constantly in doubt during the war, and the growing xenophobia that accompanied Stalinist rhetoric at the end of the war (not to mention the echo of discourses related to internal enemies--traitors and enemies of the people--that began in the years just before the war). This is one of the ways that Eisenstein prompts viewers to ask questions rather than providing consoling answers. Is Kurbskii wrong to betray Ivan? Who is the real traitor? Is the "West" strong or weak? Is Russia strong or weak? What defines strength? What defines weakness? Russian conflicts in the face of its enemies are played out here as sharp differences (the insistent black/white, even/odd, us/them visual design and mise-en-scene of the Polish court), but those clearly marked differences are thrown into question by the reversal of conventional gender and sexual roles. When men perform as women and betrayal masquerades as a comic sex romp, the reversal does not just switch conventional differences but blurs the boundary between them; they merge and transition into something new. (23)
And that is just the first scene. One might argue that since these are foreigners and traitors, neither Stalin nor anyone else would care if Eisenstein opened his film by depicting the traitors loyalty oath as a campy double-entendre sex scene. Why would Politburo filmgoers object to Western power played as effeminate sexual prowess in contrast to manly Muscovy? Even in the screenplay, which Stalin had read three years earlier, Sigismunds courtiers were identified as "effeminate," and he had not objected then. (24) But in Ivan the Terrible, Part II, the homoeroticism does not stop at the border or end with Scene 1. Sigismunds palace is followed by one image after another of male bodies embracing, entreating, caressing, dancing, and generally using their bodies in sexually provocative ways. Women disappear almost completely in Part II, and almost every scene involves some form of homosociality or homoeroticism. Ivan flirts with his erstwhile friend the priest Filipp in begging him for his friendship despite their political differences. Ivans loyal servitor Maliuta Skuratov caresses Ivan in a moment of the tsar's weakness (Stalin said he hated this scene: "He let anyone tell him what to do; he should have made his own decisions"). (25) Ivan caresses Maliuta in return, in gratitude for his self-sacrificial offer to carry out Ivan's bloody executions. Those executions are portrayed as castrations by Maliuta's powerful sword (another sword lovingly admired!) slicing through penis-like necks that the camera displays first in medium shot and then in extreme close-up for emphasis (Fig. 7). Ivan and Fedka Basmanov meet in the empty bedchamber of Ivans murdered wife, Anastasia, where Fedka attempts to transform his relationship with Ivan from son to lover and consummate that bond with words and seductive gestures. Eisenstein is explicit about their homosexual relationship in his production notes: "Ivan's relationship to [Fedka]! Damn! (Verflucht!) Just the thing that must be avoided. He must love him." (26)
The introduction of over-the-top camp performativity shows that the homoeroticism of these scenes is also meant, at least in part, as comic relief, but as comedy that merges with tragedy. The essence of comedy for Eisenstein was also rooted in the arbitrariness of signifiers (and our willingness to suspend disbelief and accept their normalization). In Ivan the Terrible, Ivan's main enemy, Efrosinia Staritskaia, is manly and powerful, while her son, Vladimir Andreevich, second in line for the throne, is effeminate and weak. Conventional gender markings are switched, throwing into question the very nature of power, which has a grotesque effect here. The gender reversal makes both Efrosinia and Vladimir creepy and unappealing. Though Eisenstein also plays this reversal for comedy at times, the power/gender reversal here adds to the interrogative mode. Does the nature of power depend on who wields it? When we reverse power hierarchies, is the result progressive or comic or tragic? In his notes, Eisenstein makes it clear that homosexuality and visual markers of homosexuality, like effeminate dress and stance, were meant to be funny even if they were defiantly assertive at the same time. Sexuality and homosexuality quickly become integrated into the larger picture of the film's overall structure. Eisenstein wrote (but sadly did not include) a scene that begins as comedy but becomes deadly serious. The scene was going to depict the oprichniki wantonly and violently ravaging a boyar estate. At one point, Fedka Basmanov was to be seen chasing down a young woman. When he captures the girl and sees how terrified she is, he says irritably: "No, you fool, it's your earrings I want." (27) These earrings appear a couple times in Eisensteins notes and are always designated as comic. Eventually, though, he writes that the image becomes something deeper, the origins of what he calls "the sins of the oprichniki." The "homo trait"--occurs to him first "as comic relief," but later is associated with "the downfall of the father." He is referring to the complicated fate of the Basmanovs, whose loyalty Ivan tests and finds wanting with horrific consequences in the unfinished Part III. (28) Questions about loyalty--such a fraught, often fatal issue in the Soviet 1930s and 1940s--is played out in the film by forcing Fedka to choose between loyalty to his two fathers: the biological Aleksei and the sovereign Ivan (whom he also loves). While comedy here grows into something deeper, it is also always employed to highlight its opposite, tragedy. Eisenstein uses sexuality to highlight and intensify the emotional drama of the questions raised by all the inner divisions we experience over issues of identity, morality, competition, and power.
Eisensteins representations of Ivan, his court, and the court of his rival ruler as permeated with homoeroticism and homosociality drew on a long history of such tropes, a history Stalin knew from previous commissions of historical and artistic depictions of Ivan the Terrible. (29) Kevin Moss has identified an association between politics and sexuality in literary works of late socialism that is useful in this context for understanding how Eisenstein acknowledged and complicated that history. Drawing on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's classic Epistemology of the Closet, where Sedgwick examined strategies authors used for surreptitiously drawing attention to homosexuality by marking its secrets and absences, Moss examines the ways authors in late socialist Russia and Eastern Europe used identical strategies to signal political dissidence as well as antinormative sexuality. (30) The treatment of both these taboo subjects in texts with grammatical constructions that partially conceal and partially reveal them--"mentioned only as unmentionable"--draws attention to the repression inherent in the system that links the closeting of homosexuality with the cloaking of public political critique. (31) The various uses of homoeroticism in Ivan function in much the same way. Visually enacted but unacknowledged in dialogue and narrative, homosexuality is both revealed and silenced, drawing attention to the sexual taboo as an open secret at the heart of male rulership. By suffusing Ivan the Terrible, Part II, with images of homoeroticism, Eisenstein asserted the presence of homosexuality in the all-male world of the Kremlin and claimed the right to depict that presence.
Perhaps most important, Part II as a whole is bookended by the two most pervasively homoerotic scenes in the film: Sigismunds palace at the start, and the Dance of the Oprichniki and assassination of Vladimir Staritskii at the climax. The entire climactic sequence--the dance and the assassination, which culminates in the defeat and removal of the last woman in the film, the manly Efrosinia, after the murder of her son, the girlish Vladimir--is choreographed as a multipartnered homosocial dance orgy (starts at 54.04). Ivan flirts with Vladimir Staritskii to wheedle information out of him, while Maliuta Skuratov and Fedka and Aleksei Basmanov watch, displaying various degrees of jealousy. Fedka performs in drag in a parody of Anastasias costume, commanding the attention of the men around him/her (Fig. 8). All the while, in the background, the rank-and-file oprichniki dance and sing about murder, arson, and pillage. They perform in a variety of styles: a "Cossack" dance, wild swirling and circling around, and even a bizarrely out-of-place dancehall number. Ultimately the Dance of the Oprichniki ends with the men running, jumping, and piling on top of one another at Fedkas feet (55:20).
The very last scene of Part II is in many ways a mirror of the first (1:19:54). After eliminating all his rivals, Ivan gives an uncompromising speech that, incidentally, did not appear in the screenplay. He declares, "My hands are free, and from here on out our swords of justice will flash against all who attempt to challenge the Great Russian State." Here he strikes very much the same pose that Sigismund took at the beginning, but with an entirely different inflection (Fig. 9). Ivan's knee is bent and arm raised, but his body displays aggressive, threatening, manly force. This pose, furthermore, is one that Stalin himself struck in a well-known and often reproduced photograph taken by Ivan Shagin.
In a discussion of Kuzmin's Wings and Vasilii Rozanov's The Final Leaves, Evgenii Bershtein identifies a literature that links homosexual awakening with social utopia and ideas about "the new man" of the future. He frames this literature--just as Eisenstein constructed Ivan, Part II--as a contest between Enlightenment rationality and Western liberationist thinking, on the one hand, and a more "fragmentary, marginal, semi-confessional poetics," that celebrates "the ontological otherness of gay people and their existential marginality," on the other. (32) Against this lineage associating homosexuality and bisexuality with self-discovery and authenticity stands a much longer tradition of representations of Ivan the Terrible that linked homosexuality with moral degradation and used that linkage to challenge Ivan's legitimacy and authoritarianism. (33) Ivan the Terrible, Part II, shows a lot of men suggestively handling their swords, flirting, dancing, petting, sulking in jealousy, hugging and kissing, castrating, and piling up on top of one another--all while Ivan becomes increasingly powerful and increasingly murderous, toying with his followers, destroying his enemies, fighting off assassins, outwitting danger, and suffering bouts of remorse. The first thing Stalin saw in Ivan, Part II, was a "tres effemine" king, and the last thing he saw was Ivan mimicking that king's posture. If Eisenstein was right about the way our brain processes images, Stalin would have made the connection (at least semiconsciously) between the first and last images of supreme rulers and perhaps himself, not as a difference but as a difference and, a sameness superimposed on one another. These images not only raised questions about the nature of male rule, the all-male Kremlin, and the links between sexuality and power but together posed a fundamental challenge to Ivan's legitimacy and authority. And those connections would make any paranoid, Hamlet-hating homophobe angry.
What Stalin Said
We have three documents that record Stalin's response to Ivan the Terrible, Part II. First, we have Ivan Bol'shakov's testimony about Stalin's reaction to the film immediately after viewing it. As head of the Soviet film industry, Bol'shakov was responsible for arranging Kremlin film screenings and was present on 2 March 1946, when Part II was screened for Stalin and some friends. Bol'shakov's testimony however, comes to us indirectly. His notes have not been made public, so the record is based on two abbreviated accounts: one by Bol'shakov's assistant, Grigorii Mar'iamov, in his 1992 book, The Kremlin Censor: Stalin Watches Cinema and the other by a prominent Moscow film scholar, Leonid Kozlov, who saw Bol'shakov's papers, which he cites in his article, "The Artist and the Shadow of Ivan." (34)
The second document comes five months later. On 9 August 1946, Stalin gave a speech to the Central Committee that focused criticism on three films to announce the shift to postwar culture policy known as the Zhdanovshchina. The speech itself was published after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but in 1946 only excerpts from the speech were published in the form of a Central Committee resolution pointing out the films' "errors." The resolution is dated 4 September and appeared in Kul'tura i zhizn 'on 10 September.
Finally, we have the famous transcript of the conversation that took place on the night of 25/26 February 1947 between Stalin, Viacheslav Molotov, and Andrei Zhdanov and Eisenstein and Nikolai Cherkasov, the actor who played Ivan. Soon afterward, at Bol'shakov's suggestion, Eisenstein and Cherkasov recounted the conversation to the writer and journalist Boris Agapov, who wrote it down and they signed it. (35) That conversation has now been widely published, though often only in excerpts, and it forms most people's understanding of Stalin's views of Ivan the Terrible, Part II.
Before turning to the documents themselves, a few words on sexuality and its policing under Stalin are necessary. Stalin cultivated male camaraderie and competition in his inner circle, but he was no friend to homosexual men. Male homosexuality--legally defined as sodomy--was criminalized in 1934 after Genrikh Iagoda, deputy chief of the NKVD, brought a draft law to Stalin, ostensibly intended to eradicate public disorders connected with gay men's use of bathhouses, public toilets, and outdoor spaces. Stalin agreed that "these scoundrels must receive exemplary punishment." (36) We do not know if Eisenstein, with his cautious personality and his complicated sexuality, slipped out of his flat on Chistye Prudy to participate in the lively, semi-surreptitious queer scene that Dan Healey described going on in his neighborhood, but he was certainly aware of the law and its potential consequences for all homosexual men. (37) In 1934, after the law was passed, Eisenstein married his close friend, Pera Atasheva, in what is universally assumed to have been a fictional marriage. There is very little reliable documentation about Eisensteins sexual practices, but what we do have are a few notes in his diary and several letters to Pera from Mexico and from Alma-Ata, in which Eisenstein wrote about sex with both men and women (or at least one man and one woman). (38) In any case, his marriage to Atasheva is a sign that the law was perceived as a threat that would reach beyond the circle of men meeting in bathhouses and on the streets.
Let's take the documents in chronological order, beginning with the immediate aftermath of the Kremlin viewing. Things did not go well in Stalin's screening room that night. Mar'iamov reports that when Bol'shakov returned to his office, he was "unrecognizable." His face was all blotchy and one eye was half closed, which, according to him, was a sure sign of Bol'shakov's "extreme agitation" (and which is, at the very least, ironic, given the repeated image of a closed or covered eye in the film). Bol'shakov refused to say anything about what happened that night at the screening, but eventually some of his most trusted friends got a few details out of him and shared them with Mar'iamov. He tells us that as soon as the lights came up, Stalin erupted: "This isn't a film, it's some kind of nightmare!" (Ne fil'm, a kakoi-to koshmar!) (39) This is pure speculation on my part, but it seems likely to me, given what came next, that that "kakoi-to" might be a sanitized version of something more demonstrative: "a @#$% nightmare!" In any case, that outburst, according to these sources, opened the floodgates for the other members of the select audience to start hurling their own expletives at the film, the angriest among them said to be Beria. Kozlov tells us that "both [Stalin and Beria] were extremely aggravated by the depiction of the oprichniki." (40) Beria likened the Dance of the Oprichniki to a "khlystovskoe radenie," the term used for bacchanalian gatherings of the heretical sect known as the khlysty (41) A radenie involved singing and twirling dances intended to produce a state of sexual and spiritual ecstasy in believers, not unlike the dancing and singing of Eisensteins oprichniki, as Beria observed. Translations of radenie have misleadingly removed all trace of its male exclusivity, its homoeroticism, and its heresy. A radenie was not "a coven of witches," as one English translation has it, or a "Witches' Sabbath," as in another, but an all-male gathering of subversive religious heretics, whose swirling dances were assumed to end in all-male orgies. (42) Notice also that it is not the portrait of Ivan that is emphasized here but the depiction of the oprichniki, Ivan's personal army, who by Part II had taken to dressing in pretty, fur-trimmed outfits. Both Mar'iamov and Kozlov add that at the end of the evening, just before storming out, Stalin angrily warned Bol'shakov that things were about to change: "We didn't raise a hand to you during the war, but now we'll deal with you as necessary." (43) So Stalin's immediate response to the film was fuming anger and a hail of expletives triggered by subversive, homosexual innuendo and a dramatic final threat.
Several things are worth pointing out here. It was unlike Stalin to lose control. We do not know exactly what he was thinking, but the tone suggests something more than an intellectual objection to the political and psychological profile of Ivan and the oprichniki. We do not know exactly why Stalin reacted so emotionally, nor do we know what Beria and others were swearing about, but the emotional intensity of their reactions deserves our attention.
We have a much fuller record of Stalin's response to Ivan, Part II, in the speech he gave at the Central Committee meeting five months later in August. Here, for the first time, he publicly stated the objections that would be repeated, first of all in the press in the form of the Central Committee resolution, then in Bol'shakov's book about film during the war, then in the conversation with Eisenstein and Cherkasov the following year, and then everywhere after the transcript of that conversation was published. (44) Although these criticisms would be repeated the following February in the Kremlin conversation, the two documents are different in significant ways.
In his speech, Stalin accused Eisenstein of three errors. First, the director failed to prepare sufficiently for making the film because he failed to study history properly. Stalin accused the directors of all three films of this lapse and uses it to emphatically put the filmmakers in their place. "Study takes patience," Stalin said irritably, "and some people don't have that patience, they just throw everything together and present us with a film: here swallow this, just because it has Eisenstein's stamp on it." (45) In other words, because Eisenstein was too lazy to study history, his Ivan and his oprichniki failed to correspond to Stalin's views of history. The historical Ivan--Stalin's Ivan was "progressive for his time," and Stalin's oprichniki were "Ivan's effective [tselesoobraznyi] instrument." Stalin saw Eisenstein's Ivan as a "weak-willed Hamlet" and the oprichniki as "degenerates, something like the American Ku Klux Klan." These criticisms reiterate Stalin's response to the screenplay three years earlier. (46) In September 1943, when Eisenstein was filming in Alma-Ata, Stalin read the screenplay and sent Bol'shakov a note approving it. He wrote that Eisenstein dealt with his assignment well enough, depicting "Ivan as a progressive force for his time and the oprichniki as his effective instrument." (47) These are the three issues--the historical record, the portrait of Ivan, and the characterization of the oprichniki--that Stalin repeatedly returned to and that everyone cites in his attack on the film.
But what is curious here is that a careful reading of the speech, independently of what Stalin said before and afterward, raises some questions about the summaries of his views that have shaped the common wisdom about Stalin's reading of Ivan, Part II. Mar'iamov and Kozlov limit themselves to the basics in their reports of the speech: Stalin saw Ivan as weak willed and Hamlet-like and the oprichniki as "degenerates" who resemble the KKK. Rereading the stenogram of the speech in Russian, independently of the literature that describes it, Stalin's attack on Ivan seems impetuous, almost improvised. It is certainly emotional and seems less than rational and calculating. Stalin's remarks on Ivan, Part II, came sandwiched between attacks on Vsevolod Pudovkin's Admiral Nakhimov and Leonid Lukov's A Great Life, and he began by saying that the shortcomings of Pudovkin's film put him in mind of Ivan the Terrible, Part II: "I don't know if any of you have seen it, but I have and it's an abominable thing, [omerzitel'naia shtuka]." He goes on in a tone that is at once outraged, informal, and crudely patronizing: "The guy got completely distracted from history" (Chelovek sovershenno otvleksia ot istorii) and depicted the oprichniki as "the worst kind of filth, degenerates [kakposlednikhparshivtsev, degeneratov], something like the Ku Klux Klan."
The translation in Clark and Dobrenko's edition renders omerzitel'naia shtuka as "a vile thing!" and "kak poslednikh parshivtsev, degeneratov" as "rotten scoundrels." Neither of these, in my view, captures the sense of utter disgust expressed in the original. This is the definition the Multitrans online dictionary gives for omerzitel'nyi: "abominable, detestable, loathsome, lousy, repulsive, disgusting, ghoulish, hateful, sordid, unwholesome, revolting, hideous, abhorrent, scurvy, unedifying, despicable, obscene." (48) The literary "vile" and archaic "scoundrels" lack the sense of immediate, visceral repulsion and moral outrage in the original. Stalin repeats "degenerate" every time he refers to Ivan the Terrible, as do his henchmen, usually more than once. In his speech, Stalin also seems to link Ivan to the "degeneracy" of the oprichniki. He explains to his audience that 19th-century historians, in their zeal to criticize the repressive regime of Nicholas II, rushed to censure the historical Ivan the Terrible for his repressive policies and his oprichniki for carrying them out. They did not understand that Russia "had to unify" in order to keep from falling back under the Tatar Yoke. He said, "How could Eisenstein not know, because there is literature, but he somehow depicted these degenerates. Ivan was a man with will, with character, but in Eisenstein he's some kind of weak-willed Hamlet." (49)
Stalin did not use this kind of moralistic language or emotionally aggrieved tone about either of the other films discussed on that day. We do not know everything he actually said back in March when he saw the film for the first time, but in both these cases, reports of his response toned down the originals, and to me this suggests that something is being glossed over or left unsaid. Eisenstein himself, as noted above, said that homosexuality was something that ought not be spoken aloud, his version of "mentioning the unmentionable." It may be, of course, that Stalin took Eisensteins portrait of Ivan personally and simply did not like being portrayed as an eccentric murderer with a conscience. But the language, scanty though it is, speaks powerfully in its repetitions and its intensity. Stalin's choice of words goes beyond deviance from the historical record to deviance from heteronormativity. Of course, "degenerate" can refer to many things: foreigners were called degenerates, as were slackers, but it was often used to denote sexual difference. Stalin, himself, used "degenerate" as well as parshivets, which I have translated as "filth," to refer to homosexuals in connection with the 1934 law. (50)
This kind of language and excessive speech patterns are hard to explain in conventional ways. If the issues were primarily political, or primarily stylistic, or primarily what Stalin liked to call "historical," why label the oprichniki "degenerates"? Why call them degenerates repeatedly and insistently? Eisensteins oprichniki are violent and murderous, to be sure, but Stalin does not object to that. And for the most part, they display true loyalty, an attribute Stalin valued. Eisensteins oprichniki are, in fact, Ivan's most loyal servitors, absolutely devoted to him. They carry out his orders and act as Ivan's "effective instrument," just as Stalin explicitly wished. So what is degenerate about them? Other than the nonverbal, visually displayed pleasure they take in one another, and the homosociality and homoeroticism that they consistently display, there is no marker of what Stalin labels "degeneracy" or of "filthy parshivost"' among the oprichniki.
The language of "weakness" also suspiciously links degeneracy to effeminacy. Those last two sentences of Stalin's remarks on Ivan follow one another in such a way that the degeneracy of the oprichniki seems to apply to Ivan and his weak-willed Hamletness--unmanly traits, in normative gender terms. For Stalin and his men, Ivan is not just indecisive, does not just suffer from remorse or doubt, but is weak, weak-willed, and neurotic. To me, these labels smack of discomfort, even disgust, with handsome young men dressed in velvet and furs, who hug a lot and dance with one another and, perhaps most of all, gaze at each other with gestures of physical intimacy.
The extreme language and impulsive, emotional outbursts are almost entirely absent from the Kremlin conversation, the best known of the records of what Stalin said. The conversation, which lasted just over an hour in February 1947, repeated the main subjects the earlier documents raised, stressing the notes of degeneracy and weakness, but it differs in significant ways. (51) The beginning of the conversation shows Stalin at his most composed and controlled. His comments, as well as Zhdanov's and Molotov's contributions, seem planned and scripted. Almost everyone who has commented on Stalin's response to Ivan, Part II, focuses 011 this conversation rather than the two earlier, more spontaneous, and less polished statements, so the heightened emotions and tone of moral outrage apparent on those occasions has gone entirely unappreciated.
When this transcript was first published, it was a revelation. As the only record we had of Stalin speaking directly about the arts, it seemed to offer rare insight into his views and into his relationship with one of the Soviet Union's most important artists. Its undisputed value, however, should not persuade us to read it as a verbatim record. Dictated by Eisenstein and Cherkasov to Agapov, it is a record of remembered and self-censored speech. The transcript is full of ellipses and elisions, and it alternates between verbatim statements and third-person renderings of what was said ("And then Cherkasov discussed ..."). Crucially, we have no idea what was left out. What, for example, was represented by the elision in this sentence: "Next Stalin made a series of remarks regarding the interpretation of Ivan the Terrible ... "? Given chat all of Stalin's previous criticisms of Ivan were recorded elsewhere in the transcript (Hamlet-like, religious, remorseful), it is not hard to imagine that this "series of remarks" concerned something none of these men wanted to say explicitly and in public. At the very least, the transcript is not as transparent as it has been made to seem.
Significantly, the archival file that holds the original typescript of the conversation contains two interesting pages that have gone unnoticed until now. Along with the typescript are two slips of paper with notes in Eisenstein's handwriting: a list of individual moments in the conversation, as if scribbled down in order to remember them. The only item on the list that does not make it into the typescript (or any of the published versions) is the following: "A clownish element in the dance. If [something crossed out] they went off together--and they certainly went off together--then certainly among the shadows" (Shutovskoi element vpliase. Esli [xxx] i guliali--a guliali naverno--to naverno po t 'me). It is hard to imagine that this could refer to anything but the men of the oprichniki "going off together" into the shadows.
This was a very strange conversation by any measure. Ostensibly, it was organized in response to Eisenstein's request for a meeting to discuss revising Part II in order to lift the ban on its release. But Stalin seems only barely interested in anything connected with issues of revision. He seems primarily intent on showing off his own expertise and putting the filmmaker in his place. (52) Eisenstein let Cherkasov do most of the talking, and after a while, Stalin addressed most of his comments to the actor, but I read Eisenstein's few comments as ironic and even borderline rude. Kozlov drew a similar conclusion; he noted both that Eisenstein showed none of his usual diplomatic skill during the meeting and that his behavior visibly irritated Stalin. (53) To Stalin's opening question, "Have you studied history?" Eisenstein said (or he says that he said), "More or less." To Stalin's remark that the oprichniki resemble the Ku Klux Klan, Eisenstein replied curtly, "They wore white hoods, ours wore black." And to complaints about Ivan's strange beard, he said that he would make Ivan's beard shorter when he reedited the film. However one interprets Eisenstein's behavior, what is most striking in the transcript of the conversation is the difference between Stalin's tone here and the two earlier instances when he spoke more spontaneously. In this context, in face-to-face conversation in his own Kremlin office, expressing the kind of outrage Stalin displayed earlier would have shown that the film had a powerful impact on his feelings, and that would have given Eisenstein a tactical advantage.
If we focus solely on the topics discussed, it becomes apparent that Stalin was at pains to show some new concerns. After he began the conversation by casually noting that he had received Eisensteins letter requesting a meeting four months earlier and basically ignored it until now (a little passive aggressive power move to start things off), Eisenstein and Cherkasov dove in with a plan for reediting and reshooting Part II to "correct" it. Stalin changed the subject immediately and began telling Eisenstein and Cherkasov that history is important and they got it wrong. He said that the films oprichniki are like the Ku Klux Klan rather than a "regular army, a progressive army," and that Eisensteins Ivan lets other people tell him what to do; he needs to be more decisive. Stalin continued then by stating that Ivan was a "great and wise ruler," whose wisdom was evident in his protection of Russia from unfavorable foreign trade and indeed from all Western influence. Ivan was, for this reason, superior to all the rulers who followed: Peter I and all the "German courts" of Catherine II, Alexander I, and Nicholas I. The extreme xenophobia that marked the last years of Stalin's rule is a new issue, and he made a point of emphasizing it here.
After Stalin's history lesson, Zhdanov changed the subject back to Eisensteins Ivan: he's too neurotic. Then Molotov chimed in to complain that there was too much attention to psychology and feelings. Stalin's contribution to this part of the conversation was to return to Eisensteins historical errors: "It is necessary to show the historical figure in correct style. For example, it was not correct that in the first series Ivan the Terrible kissed his wife so long. In that period it was not permitted." He said that the historical Ivan should have killed more of the elite and Eisenstein should not have shown the tsar as remorseful when he did: religion and conscience kept him from acting decisively, Stalin said.
The conversation turned to discussion of other historical events and other films, and Stalin reiterated the importance of history. Cherkasov said that he was sure that corrections would make Ivan a better film. To this Stalin replied: "May God grant you a new year every day! (Laughs)" (Dai vam bog, kazhdyi den'--novyigod! [Smeetsia]), (54) In the context of the conversation, this can only be interpreted as derisive mockery, something like "Sure, why not!" or "You might as well--anything can happen. Haha." Most efforts by Eisenstein and Cherkasov to bring the conversation back to concrete plans or details were contemptuously dismissed by Stalin. The effect was to trivialize the filmmakers' concerns and replace the ostensible purpose of the conversation--editing Ivan, Part II, and finishing Part III --with Stalin's own preference for pointing out the film's deficits and lecturing on history and foreign affairs. After this, the conversation began to ramble: a long digression on Czechoslovakia, the US bombing of European cites at the end of the war, the film Cherkasov was currently making, and the repetition of points made earlier. Stalin repeated, for example, that portraying the violence and cruelty of Ivan and his oprichniki was fine, but that it was necessary to explain why they had to be cruel and to show that Ivan was a nationalist who did not allow foreigners or foreign influence into the country. Molotov and Zhdanov renewed their objections to elements of visual style, psychology, and religiosity. Stalin and Zhdanov objected to Mikhail Zharov's farcical portrait of Maliuta Skuratov. At the end of the transcript, Eisenstein and Cherkasov added points that had been left out of their chronological reporting: Zhdanov objected to the uses of religious ritual, Molotov said there was too much attention given to mysticism and to the Fiery Furnace scene. Stalin said that during the dance, the oprichniki looked like cannibals or like Phoenicians or Babylonians. Finally, on taking leave of them, Stalin asked after Eisensteins health. The conversation was thus very wide-ranging, even informal at times, but when it came to talking about Ivan the Terrible, the transcript that Eisenstein and Cherkasov dictated left out much of what was said.
Up until recently most people have assumed--even in the face of Stalin's repeated comments about Ivan's weaknesses, doubts, and remorse--that Stalin's criticism of Eisensteins Ivan was that he was too Terrible, too cruel, too violent and that Eisensteins portrait was too critical of the 16th-century tsar. It was only in 1999 that David Brandenberger and Kevin Piatt showed that Eisensteins Ivan, on the contrary, wasn't too terrible for Stalin, but that he wasn't "terrible enough." (55) They shifted our attention from comments like Zorkaias, quoted earlier, to Stalin's claims that Ivan should have been "more decisive" in killing his enemies and less worried about divine or other judgment. I am not suggesting that homophobia and a lack of a sense of humor about court politics are the only reasons Stalin called for a ban of Ivan the Terrible, Part II. But I would argue that, while political concerns underlay his criticism and these recent political interpretations are persuasive and important, they sidestep suggestions that something else was also going on here, something none of these men wanted to talk about openly. It is unlikely that we will discover hard evidence of such responses, but the difference between Stalin's initial, unguarded outbursts and his controlled performance and changed priorities in his own office are worth recording. The fact that Stalin was most interested in exhibiting what he considered his historical expertise, that he left stylistic commentary to his advisers and ignored or ridiculed Eisenstein's and Cherkasov's practical questions, suggests that his main goal in this conversation was to assert his power over the filmmakers and remind them of the stakes involved in their work. He avoided any sign that the film upset him--that he considered it "some kind of nightmare." It is certainly possible to imagine that the unspecified "series of remarks regarding the interpretation of Ivan the Terrible" included a discussion of taboo topics, whether political or sexual and homoerotic, but Eisenstein himself was typically reluctant to put such observations on paper. Just as Stalin knew that his power lay in discipline and punishment, Eisenstein knew his own power lay in the evocative images he put on the screen.
In the year between his Kremlin conversation with Stalin and his premature death at age 50 in 1948, Eisenstein arranged several private showings for his friends and students and discussed the film with members of the Artistic Council who had seen Ivan, Part II, in February 1946, while he was recovering in the hospital. He was pleased with the friends and colleagues who seemed to appreciate the dangerously critical tenor of his portrait of Ivan. (56) And he made no effort to revise Ivan the Terrible, Part II, to conform to Stalin's expectations of it. The Part II that we have is the Part II that Stalin called "some kind of nightmare."
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This article was first delivered to the Russian Cinema Research Group Seminar at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London. I wish to thank Rachel Morley and Philip Cavendish at SSEES as well as my other generous readers--including Valerie Kivelson, Karla Oeler, Kevin Platt, Dan Healey, and the journals anonymous readers--for their thoughtful and helpful comments.
(1) For the ban, see Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial 'no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI) f. 17 (Central Committee [CC]), op. 116 (Orgbiuro and Secretariat of the CC), ed. khr. 249, 1. 101 (5 March 1946). For the speech, see "Stenogramm vystupleniia I. V. Stalina na zasedanii Orgbiuro TsK VKP(b) o kinofil'me 'Bol'shaia zhizn','" in Kremlevskii kinotea.tr, 1928-1953: Dokumenty (Moscow: Rosspen, 2005), 758-61. For the CC Resolution, see "Postanovlenie Orgbiuro TsK VKP(b) o kinofil'me 'Bol'shaia zhizn','" in Kremlevskii kinoteatr, 763-67. Translations of excerpts from Stalin's speech and the CC Resolution can be found in Katerina Clark and Evgeny Dobrenko, eds., Soviet Culture and Power: A History in Documents, 19171953, with Andrei Artizov and Oleg Naumov, trans. Marian Schwartz (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 447-54.
(2) Herbert Marshall, Masters of Soviet Cinema (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), 227.
(3) Grigorii Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor: Stalin smotrit kino (Moscow: Kinotsentr, 1992), 72.
(4) Joan Neuberger, Ivan the Terrible (London: I. B. Tauris, 2003), 22, 46-47.
(5) Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva (RGALI) f. 1923 (Eisensteins personal archive), op. 1, ed. khr. 1375. Eisenstein was accompanied by Nikolai Cherkasov, the actor who played Ivan, and Stalin was joined by Molotov and Zhdanov. The conversation was first discussed in print by Cherkasov in his memoir: N. K. Cherkasov, Zapiski sovetskogo aktera (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1953), 379-81. An excerpt of the transcript was published for the first time as "Groznye teni 1947 goda," Moskovskie novosti, 7 August 1988. Abridged versions of the transcript have been republished and translated often; a complete version was published in Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 84-91; an English translation of excerpts from that text is in Clark and Dobrenko, Soviet Culture and Power, 440-45. Interestingly, an abridged version was republished in early 2012, just after Putin announced his campaign to return to the president's office for the third time (Russkaiagazeta, 25 January 2012).
(6) In addition to Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, see Jamie Miller, Soviet Cinema: Politics and Persuasion under Stalin (London: I. B. Tauris, 2010), 61-66; Maria Belodubrovskaya, "The Jockey and the Horse: Joseph Stalin and the Biopic Genre in Soviet Cinema," Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema 5,1 (2011): 29-53; and Oksana Bulgakowa, review of Kremlevskii kinoteatr, 1929-1953: Dokumenty, Kritika 8, 2 (2007): 453-60.
(7) The literature on Ivan the Terrible is extensive, but little of it treats the politics and history of the film based on available documents. Recent book or chapter treatments based on archival research include Neuberger, Ivan the Terrible; Yuri Tsivian, Ivan the Terrible (London: British Film Institute, 2002); Naum Kleiman, Formula finala: Stat'i, vysstupleniia, besedy (Moscow: Eizenshtein tsentr, 2004); L. K. Kozlov, Proizvedenie vo vremeni (Moscow: Eizenshtein tsentr, 2005); Anne Nesbet, Savage Junctures: Eisenstein and the Shape of Thinking (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007); Evgeny Dobrenko, Stalinist Cinema and the Production of History: Museum of the Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008); Kevin Bartig, Composing for the Red Screen: Prokofiev and Soviet Film (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); and la. L. Butovskii, Andrei Moskvin: Kinooperator (Moscow: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2000).
(8) L. M. Roshal', "'la uzhe ne mal'chik i na avantiuru ne poidu ...'; Perepiska Eizenshteina s kinograficheskim rukovodstvom," Kinovedeheskie zapiski 38 (1998): 142-67.
(9) On reception in general and the Stalin Prize for Ivan the Terrible, Part I, see Joan Neuberger, "The Politics of Bewilderment: Ivan the Terrible in 1945," in Eisenstein at 100: A Reconsideration, ed. Al Lavalley and Barry Scherr (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 227-52.
(10) David Brandenberger, "Stalin as Symbol: A Case Study of the Cult of Personality and Its Construction," in Stalin: A New History, ed. Sarah Davies and James Harris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Jan Plamper, The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).
(11) Maureen Perrie, The Cult of Ivan the Terrible in Stalin's Russia (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2001).
(12) Ivan the Terrible, Part II, https://ww.youmbe.com/watch?v=XEfDe4fvfFA. Hereafter scenes will be identified in text by their Youtube time codes as here: 2:40-3:32.
(13) For more detailed analysis of this and related scenes, see Joan Neuberger, "Eisensteins Cosmopolitan Kremlin," in Insiders and Outsiders in Russian Cinema, ed. Stephen M. Norris and Zara M. Torlone (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), 81-95.
(14) S. M. Eizenshtein, "Ketiudu chet-nechet,'" Metod, 2 vols. (Moscow: Muzei kino, 2002), 2:457-63.
(15) Ibid., 2:528.
(16) Ibid., 1:46-47; on bisexuality in Eisenstein, see, e.g., Tsivian, Ivan the Terrible, 65; and Eizenshtein, Metod, 2:532-44.
(17) An excellent example of these strategies as they apply to dance and movement can be found in Daria Khitrova, "Eisensteins Choreography in Ivan the Terrible," Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema 5, 1 (2011): 55-71.
(18) Richard Brzezinski, Polish Winged Hussar, 1576-1775 (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2006).
(19) Evgenii Bershtein, "An Englishman in the Russian Bathhouse: Kuzmin's Wings and the Russian Tradition of Homoerotic Writing," in The Many Facets of Mikhail Kuzmin: A Miscellany, ed. Lada Panova and Sarah Pratt (Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2011).
(20) RGALI f. 1923, op. 2, ed. khr. 1677 (drawings and notes), 1. 5 (2 February 1942).
(21) On drag and its many resonances in Ivan the Terrible, see Nesbet, Savage Junctures, 194-97; and Tsivian, Ivan the Terrible, 60-73.
(22) Susan Sontag, "Notes on Camp," Against Interpretation (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1966), 275-92.
(23) Sergei Eisenstein, Nonindifferent Nature: Film and the Structure of 'Things, ed. and trans. Herbert Marshall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), esp. 279-80.
(24) Sergei Eisenstein, Ivan the Terrible: A Screenplay, ed. and trans. Ivor Montagu and Herbert Marshall (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), 118.
(25) Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 85.
(26) S. M. Eizenshtein, Izbrannyeproizvedeniia, 6 vols. (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1971), 6:511.
(27) Eisenstein, Ivan the Terrible: A Screenplay, 165.
(28) RGALI f. 1923, op. 2, ed. khr. 1168 (diary), 1. 21 (2 February 1942). Italics designate English in the original.
(29) Kevin Piatt, Terror and Greatness: Ivan and Peter as Russian Myths (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011).
(30) Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); Kevin Moss, "The Underground Closet: Political and Sexual Dissidence in East European Culture," in Postcommunism and the Body Politic, ed. Ellen E. Berry (New York: New York University Press, 1995), 229-51; Moss includes one film, but his discussion addresses only its narrative and textual, rather than visual, elements.
(31) Moss, "Underground Closet," 235-36.
(32) Bershtein, "Englishman in the Russian Bathhouse," 84-85.
(33) Piatt, Terror and Greatness, 44-48; Daniel Rowland, "Did Muscovite Literary Ideology Place Limits on the Power of the Tsar (1540s-l 660s)?," Russian Review 49, 2 (1990): 133-34. See also Kurbsky's first letter to Ivan, in which he links moral decline to political overreach; at least one 19th-century commenter, Nikolai Ustrialov, who published the correspondence for the first time and whose work Eisenstein read, linked Ivan's immorality with Fedor Basmanov. See "Pervoe Poslanie Kurbskogo Ivanu Groznomu," Perepiska Andreia Kurbskogo s Ivanom Groznym (Moscow: Institut russkoi literatury [Pushkinskii dom] Rossiiskoi akademii nauk, [C] 2006-2011), with commentary by la. S. Lur'e and Iu. D. Rykova, nn. 31, 35, and 37, electronic publication, http://lib.pushkinskijdom.ru/Default.aspx?tabid=9105 .
(34) Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 74; L. K. Kozlov, "Ten' Groznogo i khudozhnik," Kinovedcbeskie zapiski 15 (1992): 38, 46; translated into English as "The Artist and the Shadow of Ivan," in Stalinism and Soviet Cinema, ed. Derek Spring and Richard Taylor (London: Routledge, 1993), 109-30.
(35) According to Cherkasov, he and Eisenstein walked around Red Square and talked for hours immediately after the conversation (Zapiski sovetskogo aktera, 381).
(36) Dan Healey, "Homosexual Existence and Existing Socialism: New Light on the Repression of Male Homosexuality in Stalin's Russia," GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8, 3 (2002): 362, citing "Iz istorii Ugolovnogo kodeksa: 'Primerno nakazat' etikh merzavtsev.'" Istochnik: Dokumenty russkoi istorii. Prilozhenie k rossiiskomu istoriko-publitsisticheskomu zhurnalu "Rodina," nos. 5-6 (1993): 164-65.
(37) Ibid., 364.
(38) Naum Kleiman, ed., "S. M. Eizenshtein: Iz nasledii," special issue of Kinovedcheskiezapiski 36/37 (1997/98): 235-36; and RGALI f. 1923, op. 2, ed. khr. 1170 (diary), 1. 2, and f. 1923, op. 1, ed. khr. 1624 (letter to Atasheva), 1. 28.
(39) Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 74.
(40) Kozlov, "Ten' Groznogo," 38.
(42) For "a coven of witches," see Clark and Dobrenko, Soviet Culture and Power, 440; for "Witches' Sabbath," see Kozlov, "Artist and the Shadow of Ivan," 127.
(43) Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 74; Kozlov, "Ten' Groznogo," 38.
(44) I. G. Bol'shakov, Sovetskoe kinoiskusstvo v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny, 1941-1945 (Moscow: Goskinoizdat, 1948), 83-84.
(45) Kremlevskii kinoteatr, 759.
(46) Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 69-70; Kozlov, "Ten' Groznogo," 31.
(47) Mar'iamov, Kremlevskii tsenzor, 70-71.
(48) "Omerzitel'nyi," http://www.multitran.ru/.
(49) KremLevskii kinoteatr, 759. We also have the CC resolution (dated 4 September, published on 10 September 1946), which closely follows Stalin's speech and refers to the oprichniki as a "band of degenerates" and Ivan as "weak of character and weak-willed, like Hamlet" (Kremlevskii kinoteatr, 763-67).
(50) Harry Whyte, a British Communist working for the English-language Moscow Daily News, wrote to Stalin in May 1934, asking him to justify the new law. He asked Stalin, "Can a homosexual be considered a person fit to become a member of the Communist Party?" Stalin scrawled across the letter, "An idiot and a degenerate. To the archives." Cited in Dan Healey, "Sexuality and Gender Dissent: Homosexuality as Resistance in Stalin's Russia," in Contending with Stalinism: Soviet Power and Popular Resistance in the 1930s, ed. Lynne Viola (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), 157.
(51) Eisenstein and Cherkasov wrote that the conversation started precisely at 11 pm and ended at 12:10 am; another source claims that according to the Kremlin log, Eisenstein and Cherkasov entered Stalins office at 11:15 on 25 February and left at 12:05 on the 26th. See Andrei Artizov and Oleg Naumov, eds., Vlast'i khudozhestvennaia intelligentsiia: Dokumenty TsK RKP(b)-VKP(b), VChK-OGPU-NKVD o kul'turnoi politiki, 1917-1953 gg. (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyi fond "Demokratiia," 1999), 612.
(52) Stalin's behavior in this conversation seems similar to the role he played in mediating postwar debates in the sciences and social sciences, as discussed in Ethan Pollack, Stalin and the Science Wars (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).
(53) Kozlov, "Ten' Groznogo," 40. Kozlov also says that Eisenstein told a friend afterwards, "I saw Stalin yesterday; we didn't like each other."
(54) "Laughs" was a handwritten addition.
(55) David Brandenberger and Kevin Piatt, "Terribly Romantic, Terribly Progressive, or Terribly Tragic: Rehabilitating Ivan IV under I. V. Stalin," Russian Review 58, 4 (1999): 635-54; Brandenberger and Piatt, "Terribly Pragmatic: Rewriting the History of Ivan FV's Reign," in Epic Revisionism: Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda, ed. Brandenberger and Piatt (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), 157-78.
(56) Kozlov, "Artist and the Shadow of Ivan," 129-30; Mikhail Romm, Besedy o kino (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1964), 91; Iosif Iuzovskii, "Eizenshtein," in Eizenshtein v wspominaniiakh sovremennikov, ed. R. N. Iurenev (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1974), 412-13.
Caption: Figs. 1-2. Sigismund on his throne and Sigismunds courtiers Source: Screen captures from Sergei Eisenstein, dir., Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1946).
Caption: Fig. 3. Sigismunds speech Source: Screen capture from Sergei Eisenstein, dir., Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1946).
Caption: Fig. 4. "Source of the silhouette of the oprichniki" Source: RGALI f. 1923, op. 2, ed. khr. 1714,1. 7.
Caption: Fig. 5. "Sigismund--absolument effemine" Source: RGALI f. 1923, op. 2, ed. khr. 1677 (drawings and notes), 1. 5 (2 February 1942).
Caption: Fig. 6. Henri III, after Francois Clouet, c. 1581
Caption: Fig. 7. Victim's neck
Caption: Fig. 8. Fedka Basmanov and oprichniki
Caption: Fig. 9. Sigismund, Ivan, Stalin
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|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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