Battle on the Ice

I’d never heard of it until yesterday, its anniversary, but a pretty cool battle. Anyone familiar with it? Anymore info to add beyond Wikipedia?

The 1938 Eisenstein film featuring it, Alexander Nevsky, is well worth watching

Prokofiev’s music for it is awesome. Makes me want to go out and hack down an invader with a battleaxe.

Way I originally heard about it, the battle was decided when the heavy Teutonic knights charged Nevsky’s defenders across the frozen lake and fell through the ice to a watery grave before the battle even happened - that, in order to provide more dramatic tension, the Eisenstein film had them fall through the ice after the plucky Rus defeated them.

Boy was I unhappy to learn later that the “falling through the ice” bit never actually happened at all!

It joins Cathrine the Great’s “death by horse” in the category of ‘history as it should have happened, rather than as it did happen’. :smiley:

I didn’t even know about the Northern Crusades until this post, so you have fought ignorance and won!

I’ve heard argued (though I’m no historian, and can’t really assess the argument myself) that much of the mutual antipathy between Germany and Russia had its seeds in that Northern Crusade. Certainly, the Battle on the Ice and its sainted hero are a central element of Russian identity.

If anyone recalls the opening chapters of Clancy’s Red Storm Rising, the Soviets broadcasting a re-mastered release of Eisenstein’s film was understood by NATO intelligence analysts as a propaganda signal to the Soviet people that soon brave Russians would have to take up the sword to fend of dastardly Teutonic ravagers… just before a KGB false-flag terrorist bombing in the Kremlin kills a Komsomol (Communist Youth) tour group from Pskov… the city originally captured (in the movie, pillaged) by the crusaders before this battle. Especially since a West German defector was quickly arrested for the bombing.

Of course, that story is fiction, by an American… but I suspect the significance of the battle, and the events of the Northern Crusade before it… are still quite strong in the Russian historical psyche.

I recall two US guys watching the movie, but I do not recall that it was a signal.

I recall two US guys watching the movie, but I do not recall that it was a signal.

There was a Russian TV commercial about 7 years ago that depicted the battle (slightly fictionalized). It’s for Хрустеам (Hrusteam) a cracker made by Fritolay.

Holy shit! There are so many of them!
That’s nothing. I will crunch them in a second.
It’s pretty crunchy.

Produced after the ad exec who’d pitched “Putin on the Ritz” was shot in his apartment building lobby.


I’m more familiar with Prokofiev’s music than the history behind it.

I was sure this thread would be about Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding.

Thanks to all for the added help. I’m getting ready to purchase Alexander Nevsky from Amazon. Reviews seem to great.

Watched the other night. Movies made at that time are in general incredibly corny. But at the same time, this film was very prophetic having been made in 1938. Yes, it is Soviet propaganda, but if you get around that, to see the Germans demonized (literally) and the Russian nationalism, it is quite fun.

Prokofiev wrote the music.

I am being redundant.

If only as a “pre-echo” of what the Soviet Union went through in WW2 - including having to supply besieged Leningrad across the ice of Lake Ladoga, a different sort of “Battle of the Ice”.

If you’re interested Erik Christiansen’s book is a good introduction to the topic.

The film had a bit of a roller-coaster ride in Soviet official approval - it was released to great fanfare, but then next year Stalin signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact - and the movie was removed from circulation!

It came back, with a vengeance, in 1941.

No joke.