Billy Marshall Stoneking's dramatic exploration of Soviet filmmaker, Sergei Eisenstein, and his lost masterpiece. An examination of genius at work in a world of Art, Money, Politics and Treachery.
Following the success of Battleship Potemkin and a lengthy European lecture tour, the internationally famous Soviet film director, Sergei Eisenstein, made his way to California where he had been invited by Paramount Pictures to make a "big Hollywood movie". Unfortunately, the films Eisenstein wanted to make didn’t interest the studio; and those that did, Eisenstein didn’t want to make. After six, frustrating months, Hollywood and Eisenstein parted company.
Despite the fact he had been abroad for more than a year, Eisenstein felt no urgency to return to Russia. Encouraged by his friend, Charlie Chaplin, and inspired by a life-long passion for all things Mexican, he sought the support of the American novelist, Upton Sinclair, and his millionaire wife, to bankroll the making of an epic film about Mexico. The sixty-year-old socialist and champion of lost causes was more than willing. Here was the perfect opportunity for expressing solidarity with his fellow workers, while publicizing his own commitment to "the cause". Sinclair’s wife, Mary Craig, also recognized her chance (perhaps her last chance} to make some kind of mark on the world. Given a budget of twenty-five thousand dollars - and this at the height of the Great Depression! - Eisenstein assured the Sinclairs he would finish the film in three months using no more than twenty-five-thousand feet of stock.
However, artistic, moral and political pressures intervened, and by the time an "almost-bankrupt" Sinclair forced him to abandon the project in February, 1932, he had shot more than two-hundred-and-thirty-thousand feet of film at a cost of more than one-hundred-thousand dollars.
The making and unmaking of Sergei Eisenstein (and his unfinished epic, Que Viva Mexico!) is the subject of this play.
Expressions of interest to Stoneking Seminars - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eisenstein in 1930 (above) and one of his pen and ink drawings (on right) - one of thousands that Eisenstein made during his time in Mexico. These were later to be the source of much resentment and distrust on the part of one of the film's investors, Upton Sinclair.
Watch extant version of Que Viva Mexico at