In Russia, Film Shoots You

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Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein (Elmer Bäck), and his sexuality, are the subject of Peter Greenaway’s deliriously flamboyant biopic Eisenstein in Guanajuato. In the 1930s, the director of Battleship Potemkin left the Soviet Union for Hollywood, though to no avail, since anti-bolshevism prevented him from making a movie in America. But, with the help of Charlie Chaplin, Eisenstein went to Guanajuato, Mexico, where he shot Que Viva Mexico! In Greenaway’s movie, however, we see little of that shoot. Instead, Greenaway shows Eisenstein searching out creative inspiration through cultural immersion. With manic manners and logorrhea, Eisenstein is represented as a thirty-three-year-old opinionated child. There is no escaping the spectacular visual style: triptychs, shots that fold into other shots, scenes in which the camera rotates quickly around a room endlessly, intense close-ups, and animation. With rich colors, Mexico, its architecture and vistas, is rendered vibrantly. The embrace of male nudity and a protracted sex scene that emotionally anchors the film suggests that Eisenstein in Guanajuato is actually about sex and love as a bridge to happiness, if not creativity.

In English & Spanish.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White 

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