In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.
Based on the historical events the movie tells the story of a riot at the battleship Potemkin. What started as a protest strike when the crew was given rotten meat for dinner ended in a riot. The sailors raised the red flag and tried to ignite the revolution in their home port Odessa.Written by
Konstantin Dlutskii <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 2004 the British pop duo Pet Shop Boys were commissioned to write a new score for the film. It premiered on a live concert and screening in Trafalgar Square, London, on 12 September 2004. See more »
During the Odessa Steps sequence as the mother walks with her son towards the oncoming troops, a long shot shows as she approaches, the soldiers halt one flight of stairs above the one she is on. In the next shot, however, the soldiers are marching down another flight of stairs as if they are going to walk right past her. Then in the next scene they have stopped again and are on the same flight of stairs as if they hadn't moved at all. See more »
A gripping story told with style and passion as well as a 'must see' piece of cinema history
With workers striking in Russia, the crew of the battleship Potemkin feel a certain kinship for the plight of their brothers. When they are served rotting, maggot infested meat some of the crew object, only to find themselves singled out and placed in front of a firing squad. With the marines seconds away from firing the deadly shots, ordinary seaman Grigory Vakulinchuk steps into the breach and intervenes to save the men by appealing to the firing squad to ignore their orders. When the officers take their revenge and kill Vakulinchuk, all are bonded together in the struggle; a bond that reaches to the city of Odessa where the rebellion grows, leading to a bloody and historic series of events.
It is hard to imagine that anybody who has seen quite a few films in the past few decades would be unaware of this film, but it is perhaps understandable that fewer have had the opportunity to actually sit down and watch. I had never seen this film before but had seen countless references to it in other films and therefore considering it an important film to at least see once. The story is based on real events and this only serves to make it more interesting but even without this context it is still an engaging story. The story doesn't have much in the way of characters but it still brings out the brutality and injustice of events and it is in this that it hooked me surprisingly violent (implied more than modern gore) it demonising the actions and shows innocents falling at all sides in key scenes. The version I saw apparently had the original score (I'm not being snobby modern rescores could be better for all I know) and I felt it worked very well to match and improve the film's mood; dramatic, gentle or exciting, it all works very well.
The feel of the film was a surprise to me because it stood up very well viewed with my modern eyes. At one or two points the model work was very clearly model work but mostly the film is technically impressive. The masses of extras, use of ships and cities and just the way it captures such well organised chaos are all very impressive and would be even done today. What is more impressive with time though is how the film has a very strong and very clean style to it it is not as gritty and flat as many silent films of the period that I have seen; instead it is very crisp and feels very, very professional. Of course watching it in 2004 gives me the benefit of hindsight where I can look back over many films that have referenced the images or directors who have mentioned the film in interviews; but even without this 20:20 vision it is still possible to see how well done the film is and to note how memorable much of it is the steps and the firing squad scenes are two very impressive moments that are very memorable. The only real thing that might bug modern audiences is the acting; it isn't bad but silent acting is very different from acting with sound. Here the actors all over act and rely on their bodies to do much of their delivery word cards just don't do the emotional job so they have to make extra effort to deliver this.
Overall this is a classic film that has influenced many modern directors. The story is engaging and well worth hearing; the directing is crisp and professional, producing many scenes that linger in the memory; the music works to deliver the emotional edge that modern audiences would normally rely on acting and dialogue to deliver and the whole film is over all too quickly! An essential piece of cinema for those that claim to love the media but also a cracking good film in its own right.
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