Monday, March 18, 2013

Movie Review: The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Battleship Potemkin movie poster
The Battleship Potemkin (1925) – Directed by Sergei Eisenstein; Written by Nina Agadzhanova, Nikolai Aseyev, Sergei Eisenstein, Sergei Tretyakov; Cinematography by Eduard Tisse, Vladimir Popov; Starring Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov, Mikhail Gomorov and Alexsander Levshin.

By Kenny Howell

Many people, especially those back in the 1920s, believed that sound killed the art of filmmaking, and this film is a perfect example why. Eisenstein was a master of story telling with just his camera, and he produced some of the most striking images in cinema history.

The crew of the Battleship Potemkin are given rotten meat for dinner, which is just part of a history of poor treatment. The crew protests, and the admiral of the ship order the men who won’t eat the meat to be shot. A crewmember, Vakulinchik, gets his fellow workers to riot, and all the officers are killed. 

During the uprising, Vakulinchik is killed, and placed on the location of Odessa harbor as a symbol of the revolution. The citizens of Odessa rally with the crew, and face off with the Cosacks, who slaughter the citizens in one of the most famous montages in film history, known as the Odessa steps sequence. Eisenstein used short shots juxtaposed to really punctuate the horror of the situation. There have been many homages to the scene, most notably Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables, but no one was able to generate the impact that Eisenstein did almost 90 years ago. .

Rating: ****

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