Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Battleship Potemkin (1925)


It's becoming increasingly fashionable to pick apart the sacred cows of cinema (and for things like Lord of the Rings and The Shawshank Redemption to ransack the space formerly reserved for the likes of Intolerance and L'Atalante on greatest film polls). And the day draws nearer that Eisenstein's tour de force reconstruction of the stunted 1905 Kronstadt revolution will be stripped off what Pauline Kael termed its "unholy eminence". And admittedly the earlier sections are a tad choppy and repetitive. And there is little more than anthropological value to its slant on recent history and its cartoon message.
But be wary of anyone who'll tell you there's nothing more to this dinosaur than the [still incomparably harrowing] Odessa Steps sequence. They probably haven't seen the rest. So they wouldn't know about the startling, epic fervour of the sailors' uprising or the dreaminess of the mist encroaching the ports of Odessa or the sheer bewildering awesomeness of the fleet reunion that closes Eisenstein's masterpiece.

dir/ed: Sergei Eisenstein
wr: Sergei Eisenstein, Nina Agadzganova-Shutko
ph: Edouard Tissé, V. Popov
cast: Alexander Antonov, Vladimir Barski, Grigori Aleksandrov, Mikhail Goronorov, Levchenko, Repnikova, Marusov


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