Battleship Potemkin1925 Directed by Sergei Eisenstein
The movie depicts a real-life event that occurred in 1905. • It presents a glorified version of the Battleship Potemkin uprising. • The crew of a Russian battleship rebelled against their oppressive officers during the Tsarist regime.
The film is composed of five episodes: • "Men and Maggots" in which the sailors protest at having to eat rotten meat; • "Drama at the Harbour" in which the sailors mutiny and their leader is killed; • "A Dead Man Calls for Justice" in which the leader's corpse is mourned over by the people of Odessa; • "The Odessa Staircase" in which Tzarist soldiers massacre the Odessans; and • "The Rendez-Vous with a Squadron"
Sergei Eisenstein • A Russian Jew, born in 1898 in Riga, Latvia. • He became one of the most world-renowned filmmakers of the first half of the 20th century. • He was a Marxist intellectual who made only seven film in 23 years • His films, and his writing on film theory, have left an indelible mark on cinema.
Eisenstein trained as an architect and engineer. • He was also interested in theatre. • He joined the Red Army, where he staged productions for the troops. • He did everything from directing and performing to designing sets and costumes. Watch for the ways in which Eisenstein uses this combination of skills and interests in his film.
The Filmmaker Emerges • Eisenstein became convinced that film would allow him to manipulate time and space to create new meanings. • Russian filmmakers were experimenting with the effects of film editing on audiences. • They wanted to edit film to produce the greatest emotional response from viewers. • They focused their attention on theories of “montage”, in which shots are arranged to create the maximum psychological impact.
The Montage Movement • Russian filmmaker, Lev Kuleshov, began experimenting with editing unrelated film clips to tell a story. This work became the basis of the Montage style. • Directors of the Montage Movement believed that the meaning of a film does not exist in its individual shots but rather that the juxtaposition (side-by-side placement) of shots through editing creates meaning. • In other words, the connection created between two shots placed side-by-side communicated a different message than the individual shots on their own would convey.
The Use of Character in Soviet Montage • Social forces and social groups, rather than individual characters, play a major role in Soviet Montage films. • Characters are only interesting for the way social causes affect their lives. • This focus on the group rather than on the individual is unfamiliar to modern viewers and can make Eisenstein’s films difficult to follow.
Russian History • Eisenstein became a filmmaker during a time of considerable upheaval in Russian history. • He was born into a country ruled by Tsars and witnessed the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the toppling of a monarchy and the installation of the communist regime. • It was an era of intense debate among intellectuals as they sought to create a better country for themselves and for the millions of largely illiterate peasants who lived in Russia at the time. • For Eisenstein, it was a time in history which presented him with the opportunity to tell the Russian story on film in a way that was unique and revolutionary.
Film and Russian Propoganda • In 1922, Lenin said, “Of all the arts, for us the cinema is the most important”. • He recognized that film is a powerful tool for education (and propaganda). • Eisenstein embraced film as “the most efficient tool of communist propaganda”. • In 1925, the Communist Party commissioned Eisenstein to create the film Battleship Potemkin, to commemorate the Revolution of 1905. • He went on to make films about the 1917 revolution, about Lenin’s impact on Russia, and about the Bolshevik’s struggle with their opponents, as well as films about Russian heroes. • Eisenstein’s films fulfilled Stalin’s policy of glorifying individuals who had been important to the revolution.
1905 -Revolution -General Strike -Potemkin Mutiny 1912 –Lena gold field massacre (from which Lenin took his name) 1914 -World War 1 begins 1917 -Tsar Nicholas II abdicates -October Revolution 1918 –Lenin takes power -Tsar Nicholas II and family murdered -World War 1 ends 1919 -Treaty of Versailles -Russian civil war ends 1921 –Stalin rises to power -Russia becomes U.S.S.R. 1924 -Lenin dies 1925 -Eisenstein releases Battleship Potemkin Historical Timeline:
Filmography Strike! (Stachka) (1924)Battleship Potemkin (Bronenosets Potemkin) (1925)October (Octyabre) (1927)The General Line (Staroie i Novoiei) (1929) also known as Old and NewQue Viva Mexico(1931–32) incompleteBezhin Meadow (Bezhin Lug) (1936) incompleteAlexander Nevsky (1938)Ivan the Terrible, Part 1 (1942, released 1945)Ivan the Terrible, Part 2 (1945, released 1958)
Other Films released in 1925 • Ben-Hur, starring Ramon Novarro • Braveheart, starring Rod La Rocque • The Eagle, starring Rudolph Valentino • Go West, starring Buster Keaton • The Gold Rush, a Charlie Chaplin film • Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney • The Pleasure Garden, directed by Alfred Hitchcock • The Wizard of Oz, starring Dorothy Dwan