Ivan remains a fragmented, unfinished work — Eisenstein died before he could realize Part III, and Part II was suppressed for over a decade. nevertheless, its awesome visuals make it in some respects the most impressive of his films, as well as the most personal... Epic and operatic in its extreme stylization, it is one of the film world’s most artistic creations...
By presenting an ostensibly nationalistic pageant in such Meyerholdian terms – and by paradoxically framing this highly theatrical artifice mostly in cinematic close-ups, no less – Eisenstein has his sly revenge on the Stalinists, fulfilling the jingoistic dictates of socialist realism in terms that really defy any reasonable definition of “realism”.
Eisenstein’s final, and greatest, statement as a filmmaker was this two-part historical allegory in which one of the great Soviet propagandists crafted an obvious metaphor for Stalin’s reign of terror... The sheer kineticism of the films anticipates action cinema of the ‘80s and beyond more than it does the prestige biopic.