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This review is from: Battleship Potemkin  [DVD] (DVD)
"Battleship Potemkin", Eisenstein's 1925 film of the Russian Naval mutiny in 1905 and the resulting street demonstration which brought on a police massacre, although partially fictional, creates the flavour of the time with its wonderful cinematography, all captured in soundless, crisp black-and-white; having it on DVD with a few bonus features, makes it accessible to everyone and students of cinematography (and others) should see it to give them a clear impression of how film started and also to see how Societ Russia came about.
These days of CGI - an over-rated and much misused cinema technique in some hands but a stunningly imaginative effect in other hands - it is difficult to go back to the early days of film to recognise the geniuses and their leaps forward, not only in technical aspects but in artistic and aesthetic ones too. Eisenstein worked with huge, inconvenient cameras not fitted with the range of lenses now available. Fluidity in his films had to be created by camera movement and clever editing, all accompanied by actors and, in the case of "Potemkin", large numbers of them. However, this film is remembered by many people for the Odessa Steps sequence involving few actors, a few minutes of film which not only show Eisenstein at this best, but a few minutes of film history during which techniques were invented and which have inspired film-makers ever since (not to mentioned being quoted and alluded to in many films since).
In this sequence, with his huge, cumbersome camera, he created some of this most moving - literally and metaphorically - sequences in film. The relentless, over-powering march of the troops, their long shadows and bayonets, the afternoon's walk for the mother, the frightening bounce down the stairs for the pram, the awful close-up of the injured mother and so on. This is a genius making film-history, an innovator and a brilliant story-teller at work.
I saw and studied it first with heavy reels of 16mm film which gave a "reel" insight into how Eisenstein worked but the DVD allows all of it to be seen and studied with ease. Highly recommended.