By Cassandra Goh
“Battleship Potemkin is both philosophically and historically fascinating.” – A.V
Commissioned by the Soviet government, Sergei Eisenstein directed Battleship Potemkin (1925) – a silent film presenting the dramatized version of the mutiny occurring in 1905 of the Russian battleship crew rebelling against Tsarist regime’s officers. Titled the greatest film of all time at Brussels World’s Fair in 1958, Battleship Potemkin was known as the most influential propaganda films.
Battleship Potemkin is the example of Eisenstein’s “Montage” editing style where he uses quick cuts of multiple scenes and piece them together as a complete film. Despite being pieced up as individual shots, the flow of the film does not appear choppy. Instead, it appeals to emotion of viewers as it emphasizes the hardship, struggles and pain of the citizens and even crews, as well as the longing for freedom. By the rhythmic cuts of scenes and good cinematography, it creates and evokes a sense of emotion in relating to the hardship and pain. Additionally, it was the use of sound – the music. With rhythmic music accompanying the appropriate images, it forms as an engagement and keeps viewers in suspense.
In one scene – also known as the most celebrated scene in the film – it portrays the longing of freedom and humanity of the people. In the scene, citizens are rushing down a flight of stairs – known as the Odessa Steps, running away from the soldiers as they marched down firing at citizens who flee before them. This scene is powerful in evoking emotions, as it is a mise en scène portraying innocent killings of citizens, as well as their cry for revolutionary change – the longing for freedom and humanity. The portrayal of an endless flight of stairs is reflective as the inability for a change and the hardship the citizens have to go through.
Having the portrayal of wanting freedom and change as the main theme of the film, it sparked the creation of the poster where the hand on the flag symbolizes revolution and the wings, obviously meant freedom.
*Click first image to be directed to the film on YouTube*
List of Reference:
Film as Art: Danel Griffin’s Guide to Cinema. Battleship Potemkin. [Online] Available on: http://uashome.alaska.edu/~dfgriffin/website/potemkin.htm [Accessed 23 June]
* Cassandra Goh is a sleep deprived student trying very hard to survive in school. Aspiring to be a director/photographer. To know more: http://www.twitter.com/_kasandura