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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bronenosets Potemkin (aka Battleship Potemkin) (1925)

In 1905, the crew of a battleship in the Imperial Russian Navy mutinies when the first officer attempts to execute some sailors for insubordination. Their insubordination? Refusal to eat the borscht served to them. Based on an actual incident of mutiny when sailors rebelled against their superior officers, Sergei Eisenstein's masterpiece is one of the most influential films in cinema. The film is clearly a product of the communist Soviet regime with an obvious socialist agenda but like a few other political propaganda films with questionable or reprehensible ethics (Riefenstahl's TRIUMPH OF THE WILL), its Art transcends its politics. The film's use of montage and editing is justifiably praised and the stunning Odessa staircase sequence remains one of the great set pieces in all cinema. Eisenstein takes dramatic license (the Odessa sequence never happened) to achieve a visceral emotional response. Whatever one's feelings regarding its politics, this is a film worthy of its accolades. Edward Meisel's original score has been newly recorded in stereo for the transfer I saw and it adds to the film's strength. It's not a film where the acting matters much but the cast includes Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky and I. Bobrov.

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