Battleship Potemkin

5 out of 5 stars
Battleship Potemkin

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Revolt! The time has come, brothers and sisters, to liberate this silent Soviet action movie from the tyranny of fussy film-school professors. Yes, Brian Dork Palma, we know you've studied every frame of it. And viewers can feel the shuddering of those marching boots in everything from Revenge of the Sith to Woody Allen's Bananas. (Never mind that there was no 1905 massacre on Odessa's steps---the violence to celluloid was done.) But must we always be clonked over the head by how important this movie is? Enough.

Instead, go to Film Forum's one-week run of this 2010 restoration and feel the film for a change. Squirming maggots and tumbling baby carriages are one thing---check out Sergei Eisenstein's eye for a naval commander's lip curl, or for a hard stare of defiance from the poop deck. For a piece of propaganda, this has a lot more artfulness than you'll recall, replete with quiet moments of public mourning and a stirring flag-hoisting (dyed red on the new print, too). A climactic Russkie-on-Russkie sea battle, desperate with tension, actually eclipses the steps sequence for rhythmic buildup and pathos; given how influential Potemkin is, it might also be one of the most misunderstood movies of all time, championed by gore-happy directors without a thought to intent. The point was always solidarity.

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