Film Studies Lecture 6 – Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin

The Battleship Potemkin, filmed in 1925 by Sergei Eisenstein, is a Russian propaganda film based on the mutiny of the crew of the Battleship Potemkin in 1905.  It dramatises the rebellion against the cruel and oppressive Tsarist officers, as well as the aftermath and the beginning of the Russian Revolution.

The film was made in five parts or chapters, the names of which are;

“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, Vakulinchuk, is killed;

“A Dead Man Calls for Justice” – in which Vakulinchuk’s body is mourned over by the people of Odessa;

“The Odessa Staircase”- in which Tsarist soldiers massacre the Odessans;

“The Rendez-Vous with a Squadron” – in which the squadron tasked with stopping the Potemkin instead declines to engage, and its sailors cheer on the rebellious battleship.

The most famous of these is possibly the Odessa Steps sequence, in which the Tsars order the death of hundreds of Odessans.  This is done by the army marching through Odessa, shooting men, women and children as they go.

The Odessa Steps
Aftermath

These soldiers are quite clearly shown as the villains, shooting a child in the back and the child’s mother in the face, while she holds the body of her child.  The film is easily shown for what it is, a piece of propaganda depicting the newly revolutionised government as being the saviour of the populous, who where to be trodden on by the cruel Tsarist rule.

As well as the Tsars, Eisenstein attacks the church in this film, depicting the Potemkins priest as crazy and a coward, trying to control the ships crew with fear, until eventually being vanquished along with the officers.

Self Portrait – Done in acrylic paints, 2011 by Opinionated Alex

I can’t say that the attack on the church hurts my delicate sensibilities.

This video shows the Odessa Steps scene, in all its glory.

Advertisements

About opinionatedalex

Less opinionated than one might think.
This entry was posted in Introduction to Film Studies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s