How such a mercurial visionary as Sergei Eisenstein produced such ambitious,
experimental films in Communist Russia may always remain a mystery.
Eisenstein: The Master's House chronicles his career from his boyhood,
where he was influenced by his father's work as an architect, through his
theatrical training with Meyerhold and on to his whirlwind days in Hollywood,
his frenzied collaborations with Prokofiev, and eventually his relationship
with the increasingly repressive Stalinist regime.
Using titles to indicate various "houses" ("Mama's House," "Teacher's House,"
"Glass House," "Valhalla," "The Cathedral"), the filmmakers trace the
labyrinthine trajectory of Eisenstein's life and work by examining its
historical context -- a method Eisenstein himself employed. With rare archival
footage (including one documentary on filmmaking with hilarious outtakes),
still images, animated storyboard drawings, and clips from directors Eisenstein
particularly admired, as well as his masterworks Ivan the Terrible,
Strike, and The Battleship Potemkin, the resulting montage is at
once a tender tribute and a harrowing newsreel. The most remarkable thing about
The Master's House, indeed, is that nothing of the sort has been
attempted before now. Its release marks the 100th anniversary of Eisenstein's
birth, the 50th anniversary of his death. The film shows how, passionate to the
end, despairing under Stalin's tyranny, he literally worked himself into his
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