Battleship Potemkin

If modern revolutionaries rely on YouTube or phone clips to spread the word, nearly a century ago their fellow insurrectionists – such as the great Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein – had to labour with the relative carthorse of cinema to satisfy the same demands. It’s in that light that Eisenstein’s twentieth-anniversary, five-act ‘docu-drama’ of the 1905 Russian Navy mutiny, ‘Battleship Potemkin’, seems, even today, so exciting, dynamic and immediate.

It’s being re-released by the BFI in a Deutsche Kinemathek-restored print, with restored original censor cuts, title cards and graphics and a revised version of Brecht-collaborator Edmund Meisel’s rousing score. Eisenstein’s crowning reputation may have declined a little over the years and ‘Potemkin’s celebrated episode – the Odessa Steps sequence where Eisenstein, with cinematographer Eduard Tissé, elaborated his celebrated ‘rhythmic montage’ technique to capture the massacre of demonstrators by Czarist forces  – may have become hackneyed, but few films rival its ability to capture the danger, drama, uncertainty and energy of civil war or to respond so vitally to the urgent artistic challenges of their times.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday April 29 2011
Duration: 71 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sergei Eisenstein
Screenwriter: Sergei Eisenstein
Cast: Alexandr Antonov
Vladimir Barsky
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