Saturday, October 10, 2009

27. The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Running Time: 75 minutes
Directed By: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Written By: Nina Agadzhanova, Sergei M. Eisenstein
Main Cast: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov

After reading several excerpts, after watching this film, not only from the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book, but from other critics, it seems that this picture is hailed throughout the world and at one time was considered the greatest movie ever made. I had never heard those claims made before, although, I had heard of The Battleship Potemkin, and heard that it was great. I did not hear wrong.

Our movie starts on The Battleship Potemkin (imagine that), where sailors are protesting to the food that they're being fed: meat infested with maggots and the treatment that they receive from their superior officers. When the captain of the ship confronts them, they stand up to him and don't back down, led by the bullheaded Vakulynchuk. It is here that an all out mutiny breaks out and the sailors overthrow the ship and take it over. In all of the fuss Vakulynchuk is killed and taken into the Odessa harbor and laid on the pier, underneath a tent with a note on his chest that reads: "Killed for a bowl of soup".

What follows is one of the most touching and inspiring scenes in film history, as hundreds and thousands of Odessa natives stroll down the pier to show their respects to the fallen officer, the fallen officer who took charge and stood up for his rights and his beliefs. The shot of the sea of humanity walking down the pier is absolutely breathtaking and sends chills up your spine when you watch it.

The following scene is titled, "The Odessa Staircase" (the film is broken up into parts and each part has a title). "The Odessa Staircase" is one of the most heartbreaking and outstanding visual scenes you will ever see in a film. It is this scene alone that made me sit up and take notice of the brilliance of this film. As the Odessa people are waving at the Battleship Potemkin and sending them on their way, the Tsarist soldiers enter the scene and march down the steps, where the people are sending their goodbyes and well wishes, and the massacre that unfolds is visually amazing. If you've ever seen "The Untouchables" and the scene where the baby carriage is tumbling down the steps of the train station stairs, then you've seen a scene stolen from The Battleship Potemkin.

Up until that sequence, The Odessa Staircase, I was kinda beginning to wonder why this film was so lauded. Sure, the scene where the Odessa people come in to pay their respects to the fallen sailor is quite inspirational, but it wasn't quite enough to send this movie into the great status that it is held in. The Odessas Staircase sequence, is a scene that I won't soon forget, a scene that will always stick out when my memory jumps back to the Battleship Potemkin. Roger Ebert once wrote and I'm paraphrasing "The Battleship Potemkin can no longer be considered the greatest film ever made, but it is obligatory for any film scholar." I think I'd have to agree wholeheartedly with that statement. While the Battleship Potemkin is certainly not the greatest film ever made, I believe everyone should take a look at it, at least once.

RATING: 5.5/10 That's just about as high as I can go, as almost all 5.5 of those points go to one single scene. While not the most enjoyable film in the world, The Battleship Potemkin is more about respecting the great work and something that film buffs should watch for historical value.

NEXT UP: The Gold Rush...CHAPLIN HAS ARRIVED...And I'm less than twenty movies away from the 1930's. YES!!!

October 10, 2009 3:29pm

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't really sound like something I would enjoy.


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