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IB Film - Case Studies
Battleship Potemkin
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein 

Country: USSR 

Genre: Drama, History, War 

Synopsis: A revolutionary propaganda, the movie revolves around the uprising on the board the Battleship Potemkin in 1905. It shows how the sailors revolted and killed their officers. The revolt is eventually crushed, and the Potemkin is destroyed. The film celebrated the 1905 uprising against tsarism in Russia



The Battleship Potemkin is one of the most famous and influential films in the history of cinema and containing one of the best known sequences ever filmed. There is an amazing catalog of events that detail the brutality of the tsarist regime, with the famous massacre on the Odessa Steps being the most notable (referred to in many other movies such as Brazil, Bananas and The Birds). Stylistically, The Battleship Potemkin is revolutionary film not only in its subject, but also in terms of its unique use of montage. Eisenstein made an entire new purpose for cinema, he proposed a "kino first" approach to filmmaking, one in which the film attacks the viewer's senses with symbolic metaphors, rhythmic editing, and highly-charged melodrama. Eisenstein also experiments with the effect of film editing on audiences, and his use of editing tries to produce the greatest emotional response, so that the viewer will feel sympathy for the rebellious sailors of the Potemkin and disgust for their cruel overlords. His cinema also called for an active audience, who must participate in the creation of meaning by putting together the broken pieces of montage, and assembling them into a new reality. With is effective and manipulative techniques, Eisenstein was one of the few who helped develop the film language we recognize and know today. If we only look at a few, such as "Psycho" (Hitchcock) or "The Godfather" (Coppola), we can see Eisenstein's influence and its power. Dispute of its excellence, "The Battleship Potemkin" failed to attract masses of viewers. Even though it received more positive responses in a number of international venues, in both the Soviet Union and the overseas, the film shocked audiences, (not so much for its political message, but) for its use of violence which was considered graphic by the standards of the time.




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