Wings of a Serf
Peter Bagrov is a curator of the moving image department at the George Eastman Museum and an expert on Russian and Soviet film history.
Leonoid Leonidov, Ivan Klyukvin, Safiyat Askarova, Vladimir Korsh,
Directed by the Belarusian Yuri Tarich, this extraordinary feature set in the sixteenth century was influential in the direction of Sergei Eisenstein’s two-part Ivan the Terrible (1944–46). As film historian Jay Leyda has written, “Wings of a Serf (shown abroad as Ivan the Terrible) is a drama of the time of Ivan IV: the unhappy fate of a serf who is so unwisely clever as to invent an apparatus for flying through the air. Yet when this story leaves the memory, what stays is the extraordinary portrait of Ivan, as played by Leonid Leonidov.” The lasting quality of the film may lie in the composition of the cast—especially Leonidov of the Moscow Art Theatre, whom Stanislavsky called “the only Russian tragic actor”—and crew, including cowriter Viktor Shklovsky, assistant director Ivan Pryiev, and film editor Esfir Shub.