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Battleship Potemkin  [DVD]
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The masterpiece of Russian silent film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein is a dramatised account of the naval mutiny and street riots at the sea port of Odessa that sparked off the 1905 Russian Revolution. When the crew of the Potemkin protests after being given rotten meat as rations, the captain responds by ordering the execution of the dissidents. Outrage at this injustice quickly ignites and the townspeople have soon surrounded the harbour in a mass demonstration - but the scene gives way to tragedy and brutality as the authorities move in to quell the uprising. Made to mark the 20th anniversary of the revolution, the film boasts inventive, rapid-cutting camera work (it contains no fewer than 1,300 separate shots) and one of the most famous sequences in the history of film: the massacre on the Odessa Steps.
Sergei Eisenstein's revolutionary sophomore feature has so long stood as a textbook example of montage editing that many have forgotten what an invigoratingly cinematic experience he created. A 20th-anniversary tribute to the 1905 revolution, Eisenstein portrays the revolt in microcosm with a dramatisation of the real-life mutiny aboard the battleship Potemkin. The story tells a familiar party-line message of the oppressed working class (in this case the enlisted sailors) banding together to overthrow their oppressors (the ship's officers), led by proto-revolutionary Vakulinchuk. When he dies in the shipboard struggle the crew lays his body to rest on the pier, a moody, moving scene where the citizens of Odessa slowly emerge from the fog to pay their respects. As the crowd grows Eisenstein turns the tenor from mourning a fallen comrade to celebrating the collective achievement. The government responds by sending soldiers and ships to deal with the mutinous crew and the supportive townspeople, which climaxes in the justly famous (and often imitated and parodied) Odessa Steps massacre. Eisenstein edits carefully orchestrated motions within the frame to create broad swaths of movement, shots of varying length to build the rhythm, close-ups for perspective and shock effect, and symbolic imagery for commentary, all to create one of the most cinematically exciting sequences in film history. Eisenstein's film is Marxist propaganda to be sure but the power of this masterpiece lies not in its preaching but its poetry. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In deference to its origins (a commission from the Russian revolutionary leadership to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the 1905 Revolution), the film is unashamedly pure propaganda, but loses none of its cinematographic impact as a result. Indeed, the powerful imagery and effectiveness of its key sequences were so strong as to lead to its banning in many parts of the western world for many years (including Britain, the United States and France) and, indeed, in Russia, where there was a great fear that it may incite rebellion against Stalin's regime which history has come to show was every bit as inhumane and repressive as the imperial Czarist rule which the film condemns.
For a long time, the picture was regarded by the luminaries of the world film industry as the greatest film ever made, more latterly surpassed by Orson Welles' Citizen Kane whose own original masterpiece is nevertheless clearly inspired by the techniques pioneered by Eisenstein in Battleship Potemkin.Read more ›
This, his second movie, portrays the sailors' mutiny on board the Battleship Potemkin. The ship is returning from war with Japan via the Black Sea. Sailors become disgruntled and restive with the terrible treatment they receive from commanding officers, and the horrendous living conditions onboard. Their complaints are ignored. The last straw comes when the hungry men are fed inedible meat, crawling with maggots. They rise up, and take command of the Potempkin. When they arrive at the port town of Odessa, the people sympathize with the sailors' plight, and subsequently pay a terrible price for their support. In one moving scene, the ship's captain becomes enraged when the men refuse to eat the spoiled food. He orders the rebels shot. Grigory Vakulinchuk, a leader of the insurrection appeals to his comrades, "Brothers! Who are you shooting at?" He convinces the armed soldiers to join in the uprising. Propaganda or no, it's an extraordinarily moving scene.
The film is structured around five episodes, seamed together almost effortlessly: (1) Men and Maggots; (2) Drama on the Quarterdeck; (3) An Appeal from the Dead; (4) The Odessa Steps; and, (5) Meeting the Squadron.Read more ›
All the same, this film is a classic that should be watched, in order to understand why it is considered as such. In my opinion, the reasons are many:
a) To start with, the story of a naval mutiny sparked by rotten food is an interesting one, and it is told in a way that makes the spectator think that that event is happening right before him, even though the film is in black and white, and has no sound.
b) Secondly, the sequences regarding the Odessa massacre are impossible to forget, and some scenes are simply gems of great emotional impact and a profound shocking value.
c) Finally, and from a technical point of view, the ability of Sergei M. Eisenstein to produce such a film in 1925 is something noteworthy, as is his edition technic, and the way in which he uses symbols to impress upon the spectator what he wants to say.
All in all, I think that even though watching this film isn't likely to be something you will do often for fun, it is something you should do at least once. Recommended!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Buyer be warned, amazon video on amazon.co.uk unfortunately only has the unrestored and low quality 1976 sovexportfilm version of Battleship Potemkin, not the restored 2007 Kino... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Aneka
A real classic and well restored. A must see for history, cinema history and silent movie fans.Published 3 months ago by Ann
One of the most influential movies in cinema history and along with Citizen Kane a strong contender for the greatest movie ever made . Read morePublished 17 months ago by Brendan Keane
I visited the site where this ship was built when I visited my future wife's home. It was a must for me,Published 23 months ago by Maurice C