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500 Five-Star: Battleship Potemkin (1925)

August 18, 2012

The pram falling down the steps.  Soldiers marching down said steps with guns pointed at their countrymen.  Bloodied women screaming.  The Odessa Steps sequence is such a famous one, that I have to be honest and admit that I’d assumed the rest of Battleship Potemkin would be poor in comparison.  I was wrong.  Battleship Potemkin as a whole is brilliant.  It’s just that the Odessa Steps sequence is *so* brilliant, that it would really be impossible not to focus on that ahead of everything else.  It made me, someone who has studied Soviet society and its inherent miseries for years, want to become head of the Newcastle Bolshevik League (don’t worry, that probably doesn’t exist.  At least, I really hope it doesn’t).  Its portrayal of the evil Tsarist henchmen and their brutality towards the poor, innocent Russian people makes for a stunning, stunning piece of propaganda; I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.  The editing, the score, the overall horror really has to be seen to believed…and to think I thought the effect of the sequence would have been dulled due to my familiarity with it.  Not in the least.  The rest of the film, though, is also spectacular.  From the building tension on board the Potemkin to the final mutinous victory, it’s incredibly hard not to be swept along by the film’s remarkably simplistic characterisation and clear intent.  Having been more amused than impressed by the previous Eisenstein film on this list (Alexander Nevsky), it was a delight to see just how good a director he actually was.

Verdict:

It’s hyped for a reason.  A must-see for any lover of cinema.

*****

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