Monday, May 7, 2012

Brothership Potemkin

If only Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin featured a tale about self-entitled youths...or starred one of Brian Williams' relatives...then we'd have more to discuss and argue about.

I enjoyed the film for the same reasons that every cinephile seems to identify in his or her review. It's an extremely powerful film that captures both your attention and your emotions. Maybe there's hope for me with regard to watching some D.W. Griffith films now, but I'll probably just stick to Chaplin, Keaton, and Eisenstein. Comedies and Commies seem to be my thing.

This was my first Eisenstein film. Alexander Nevsky used to be on NWI. I wish I could watch it on there as a follow-up to Battleship Potemkin, but for no apparent reason it was taken down; supervillian Reed Hastings strikes again.

Anyway, no doubt, Battleship Potemkin is an extremely effective film. In Roger Ebert's review, he notes that certain scenes are so ingrained in people's minds that they're interpreted as being historically accurate. Many sequences from the film (especially the opening scenes on the ship) definitely have that "documentary" feel. Of course, a propaganda film needs that in order to accomplish its goals. But it does feel as if Eisenstein's ambitions aren't just limited to making the Tsarist regime look like a bunch of soulless fucktards.

Looking back on the film, I can't help but think of the word, "crescendo." I envision Eisenstein directing/editing the film the way a maestro conducts an orchestra. This a film that builds and builds; it's very skillfully done. And sticking with the idea of music, the score perfectly matches the power of the visuals; it's no surprise that the smallest members of the Owen clan rose up against John The Terrible (sure that reference is pretty old by now, but I really enjoyed that part of your post, John).

Like Jeff, I'd have to praise Eisenstein more for his technical abilities than his storytelling abilities. In fact, I'm sure most of us would agree with John's assessment that, in cases like these, the well-crafted nature of the film does trump the meaning and message.

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