The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

This film by Sergei Eisenstein is a pure propaganda film made in response to Lenin’s interest in using film, as a way of justifying the revolution and consolidation of power. This is achieved through the plot device of a martyr in order to instill a sense of justice into the minds of the masses.

The film has a much more solid narrative structure than our previous studies. It is broken up into five equal chapters and follows the simple formula of introduction, complications and spectacular conclusion.

Eisenstein clearly made this as an expressionistic work, as the film techniques are very noticeable and most tend to emphasise an overly dramatic portion of the film, such as the little boy being killed and the shots of the amputee to evoke sympathy from the audience. The expressionistic techniques are effective in amplifying the mood and atmosphere of the particular scene and most definitely used with that purpose in min in order to sway the public. If realist techniques were applied it would be much less successful as a propaganda film.

The iris technique was used a few times for no discernable purpose. There was also a strip shot where they eliminated two strips of rectangular film on either side of a shot of people walking down stairs. Once again I have trouble figuring out its purpose, but it was more visually appealing than the iris effect.

One problem that continues from our other film studies is that of the anti climax. It would seem that film makers had still not quite figured out how to effectively structure the last part of their films. There is a lot of build up to battle on the sea in chapter 5, which is unsuccessfully sustained through five minutes of preparing the ship for battle. Then the deux ex machina comes though when the ships are magically inhabited by revolutionists and everyone appears to leave happily every after.


March 10, 2009. In class.

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