The Battleship Potemkin
1926 / 75 minutes / Soviet Union / Silent film/Russian intertitles
Directed by Sergei Eisenstein
Written by Nina Agadzhanova.,Nikolai Aseyev,
Sergei Eisenstein,Sergei Tretyakov
Cinematography Eduard Tisse
The Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein presents a dramatised version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their oppressive officers of the Tsarist regime.
The Battleship Potemkin has been called one of the most influential propaganda films of all time, and was named the greatest film of all time at the World's Fair at Brussels, Belgium, in 1958.
The movie revolves around an uprising on board the Battleship Potemkin (Bronenoset Potemkin) in 1905. Conditions on the ship are unbearable, which in turn incites revolutionary fervor among the sailors, most notably within the character of Vakulinchik. After the ship's doctor declares rancid meat safe to eat, the sailors buy provisions at the canteen in a show of protest. The Admiral then orders all those who ate the borsch made with the meat to step under the cannons in a show of loyalty. Those who do not are covered under a tarp and ordered shot. Vakulinchik then implores his shipmates to rise up against those who oppress them, namely the officers of the ship. All the officers are killed and the ship is liberated. During the uprising, Vakulinchik dies. His body his placed on the docks in the Odessa harbor as a symbol of the revolution. The citizens of Odessa rally around his body and join the Potemkin in their revolt. Cossaks then come, in one of the most famous scenes of the film, and slaughter the helpless citizens on the steps leading to the harbor, effectively ending the revolt in Odessa. A fleet of battleships then comes to destroy the Potemkin.
The film is composed of five episodes:
"Men and Maggots" (Люди и черви), in which the sailors protest at having to eat rotten meat;
"Drama at the Harbour" (Драма на тендре), in which the sailors mutiny and their leader, Vakulynchuk, is killed;
"A Dead Man Calls for Justice" (Мёртвый взывает) in which Vakulinchuk's body is mourned over by the people of Odessa;
"The Odessa Staircase" (Одесская лестница), in which Tsarist soldiers massacre the Odessans; and
"The Rendez-Vous with a Squadron" (Встреча с эскадрой), in which the squadron ends up joining the sailors' side.