Monday, June 13, 2011
#137: Battleship Potemkin
Made in 1925 by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin is often hailed as the greatest propaganda film of all time. With that sort of a known background, there inevitably seeps in a weight of expectations before any potential movie viewer. Maybe, it is not such a good thing because more often than not, the expectations then tend to have a field day while the actual movie is on.
While that almost summed up my experience of watching Battleship Potemkin, there were a few redeeming moments as well. It begins with a flagrant opposition by the crew members of the ship who refuse to eat the sub-standard meat that is served aboard the ship. A mutiny ensues and the simple problem becomes a symbol of protest against the ruling regime. The regime reacts with an iron hand and orders a mass killing to stave off the protestors. This brings to life on-screen one of the most iconic images in the history of cinema - the Odessa steps sequence, a depiction of the regime's dictatorial ways that will jolt you with it's naked brutality.
What will also amaze you about the movie is the number of people who are shown in the movie- an enormous amount of sailors on-board to begin with, and then even more protestors and then even more number of people being shot in the Odessa steps. When you see them along with the artillery and vessels, you know that the movie might've been a magnum opus in it's day. Coupled with an ending that's as much surprising as relieving, Battleship Potemkin does become a decent watch by the time it concludes at a short 62 minutes. Thus becoming the kind of movie, that looks good on your movie-viewing resume, but you know little else about what to do with it.