For Reel

Time in the Sun (1940)
January 9, 2012, 12:28 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Sergei Eisenstein & Marie Seton

The production of ¡Que viva México!, Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s indented four-part epic about Mexican culture from the Mayans to the Revolution in 1910, was halted by producer Upton Sinclair before completion. Since then, the footage has been edited by several filmmakers into truncated versions that supposedly follow Eisenstein’s original outlines. Biographer Marie Seton’s version, entitled Time in the Sun, is successful insofar as Eisenstein’s footage is compelling, however the picture’s political themes are incomprehensible. Near the end of the film, the narrator speaks about the need for revolution despite no visual clues that convincingly suggest cultural unrest. While there are the makings of a successful ethnographic quasi-documentary utilizing the footage, Seton’s structure is a mess, a dull affair unworthy of the project’s prestige. As an outsider to both the production and the Soviet Union, one can assume that Seton’s vision would have shared little with Eisenstein’s, despite her access to a blueprint of his ideas.