[critical] The Battleship Potemkin

In January 1905, the outbreak of the first Russian revolution, followed by the 14 June of the revolt of the sailors of the “Potemkin”. What at first looked like a small protest by a crew tired and angry of having to eat meat pourrrie has degenerated into a veritable uprising in the port of Odessa.

Release Date : November 12, 1926

Directed by Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov

Movie Russian

With Alexander Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov

Length : 1h 10min

Original title : Bronenosets Potyomkin

Today, always in association with MrDomainePublic, the Blog Of The Film offers you to (re)discover the cult film by Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, The Battleship Potemkin.

And as always, here are a few stories around this legendary film :

* This film is the second feature film by the young Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was born in 1898. After having been a theatre director, he turned to the cinema, inspired by Dziga Vertov, creator of the “cinema eye” and a supporter of a documentary film. In his first feature film, The Gréve, shot in 1924, Eisenstein is already experimenting his theory of montage. It is also engaged in an enormous undertaking : to make seven films collective that will trace the history of the Russian revolution. But they will not be turned nor carried out in chronological order. After The Battleship Potemkin, it will follow on October (1927), the last film of the series.

* The sequence the more famous of this movie is the one of the stairs, which lasts for six minutes. The army pulls on the population supportive of the marine mutinés and makes a massacre. A pram with a child inside down the stairs of Odessa, where took place the suppression. The development of a detailed symbolism is a common practice in Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, who juxtaposed with wide shots evoking the character class of the oppressed masses to plans more tightly, or even close-ups of objects, metaphorical or faces expressing personal feelings as that of a mother who has lost her child. The end sequence of Brazil contains a homage to this famous scene of the pram rolling down the stairs. This time, a baby carriage going down the steps after the mother of the child was killed during the assault following the release of Sam Lowry. In The Untouchables, Brian De Palma makes explicit reference to the sequence of the stairs of the Battleship Potemkin. As in Eisenstein, a baby carriage escapes to a mother and tumbles down the stairs. Only difference, the scene is filmed in slow motion and it takes place in a train station.

* The mother of Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein plays the role of the woman holding a piglet while Eisenstein himself appears in the citizen of Odessa.

* This film was written, shot and edited in four months. Originally, it is another film commemorating the year 1925, which was to be shot as early as July of 1925 in Leningrad. But the bad weather forced the team to retreat to Odessa. And this is where Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein had the idea of completely changing the initial scenario to be limited to the revolt of the sailors of Odessa. But the delay in shooting forced the filmmaker to complete his film, in the emergency that the first to take place on 21 December 1925 at the Bolshoi.

* The State Commission has ordered a film Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the 1905 Revolution. It is, therefore, a work didactic, but the director has kept a large artistic freedom to discuss the topic. The soviet State had decided to use the seventh art as an instrument of propaganda, but the filmmakers were able to produce films that were not following to the letter the line of the Communist Party during NEP (the period of economic easing and policy initiated by Lenin), unlike the other arts, which have suffered much sooner the lightnings of the censure.

* This black and white film has a scene where we see float a red flag. 108 images were colored by hand to achieve this effect.

* The vast majority of the actors in the film are amateurs. Among the extras are the inhabitants of Odessa as well as the sailors of the fleet of Odessa. The film is shot in natural locations.

* This film could not be officially distributed in the countries non-communists because of their ideology very explicit. He has, however, circulate in Europe and the United States, providing little to little international recognition to Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein. But the director was already dead when his film came out finally in cinemas in the 50s in Europe.

* Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein applies in this film his theory of the “montage of attractions” he explained in the journal Lef in 1923. According to him, the assembly must produce shocks in linking elements, a priori independent of each other, and should lead to a “cinema fist”. The strength of the film is not from camera movement, Eisenstein uses a vast majority of fixed plans. Among the processes implemented by the developer include mounts in parallel, the changes of pace that are related to a splitting complex with an alternation of fast licks and long associated with a change in the value of the plans, and, finally, the opposition between sequences completely silent, and others accompanied by music. The right mix of links and ruptures made this film a true symphonic poem. The originality of Eisenstein is to be pushed as far and as soon as the sophistication of the installation.

* Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein book a personal vision of the History that goes in the direction of the ideology of the Communist Party : by failing in their mutiny, and massacre the sailors and people of Odessa have, in fact, won a victory over the well-heeled. Thanks to their sacrifice, the Revolution of 1917 could take place. The technical achievement and artistic this film is such that the subjective vision of the Story that this Eisenstein will impose in the collective memory of the soviet union and also in that of the western countries non-communist.

Have a good time !

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