And now, for your listening entertainment

A scene from Alexander Nevsky directed by Sergei Eisenstein, music by Sergei Prokofiev. Practically the only thing the nightmarish empire beyond the Iron Curtain ever produced worth remembering with admiration, aside from a manned spaceshot or two. AH! The heart thrills to see the Crusaders, Hosptiller crosses emblazoned on their cloaks, rushing forward toward the boyars of Russia…

… oh, wait. The Krauts are the bad guys in this film. We are supposed to root for the other side.

Well, so what? It is still an inspiring movie. Makes me want to heft a trusty axe and kill a few Teutonic Knights so a cute Russian shield maiden will marry me, too! As long as Holy Mother Russia is safe, we can forgive a few centuries of uninterrupted Czarism and Communism and Gangsterism. Eventually the easterlings will reach the same level as Western civilization, either because one rises up or the other falls down. Unless both are abandoned to the Dar el Islam, of course. No civilization that produced Tolstoy can be all bad.

I don’t care if some of the shots on horseback look fake: Alexander Nevksy himself wears cool-looking helmet and armor.

I hope no one was expecting any more profound comment from me. I am a science fiction writer, dammit, Jim, not a film historian. And, like all science fiction writers obsessed with the far future, I really like swords and spears, knights and crusaders, and all romance and grisly travail of the past. Historical epics are like fantasy books, only with less magic, and with much more realistic world-building.

And, of course, it actually happened, or something almost like it sort of did, once. (Unlike a movie based on a Dan Brown novel, which apparently take place in a parallel timeline that merely has some names similar to ours, and an evil version of the Roman Catholic Church, called the Magisterium, which performs intercissions on small children to remove their daemon animal companions. Or they murdered Copernicus, tortured Galileo, and unplugged my refrigerator, because they hate technology and learning. I guess this was either before or after they preserved all the knowledge of the ancient world and founded every university in Europe.)

Anyway, Go Alex! Defend the holy Motherland! Stop the Stormtroopers!