Directed by: Sergie M. Eisenstein
Genre: Drama, War
Black and White, 75 Minutes
A while back I tried watching this and the copy had picture perfect quality, but the subtitles were way off. So, the review of this film has been delayed and now I have watched it properly. Battleship Potemkin is among the best silent films, and today is known as one of the greatest propaganda films of all time. The films striking visuals and largely controversial (for the time) message sum up for a very exciting experience. The film has a short runtime, but it's worth every minute.
The film opens up with some pretty shots of water flying about and hitting rocks. We then see sailors on the titular ship, were they are all in their hammocks sleeping. One is crying, clearly from the harsh conditions and isolation of the ship. Soon, the men discover that the meat, in which they are expected to have to eat, is infested by maggots. The captain comes out claiming it is good meat, which infuriates the men. Pretty soon, the men become more and more agitated by the conditions they are under and rebel against the men of the high ranks. We then progress to the next sections of the film were we see people in an act of freedom, and a great tragedy that is considerably graphic.
The film is very short in what happens and there are practically only a few scenes to the film. The most notable scene is of course the renowned Odessa Staircase scene. This, I would consider the film’s most intense scene and best. Even now, it is tragic to watch and considerably graphic. In the impressively well-edited scenario, we see soldiers marching down these steps with a clear dominance over the people with their guns as they inhumanely kill everything in front of them like heartless machines. The most effective shots would be that of the boy being trampled by people running away in fear, who is also shot. This is still today, a very powerful scene that is reasonably surprising.
It is deemed as the greatest propaganda film and a few have even claimed it as the best film of all time according to 1958. This is quite a bold statement and the film is far from being the greatest of all time, but it may very well be the greatest propaganda film.
What makes the film so memorable and alive today is its imagery that for those who know of the rules of cinema in its early days was controversial. The film as I have said has some beautiful shots and they definitely have a poetic touch to them. The director, Sergie M Eisenstein has showed artistic craft with the films narrative and direction, which still manages to excite audiences today.
Verdict: After 87 years the film is a fascinating account of a historical event that happened over 100 years ago that is full of exciting imagery and excellent direction. It sits among the best silent films of all time.
IMDB Rating: 8.1/10