April 19, 2012 Get on board: The Battleship Potemkin
If you like your propaganda with a shot of vodka, then you will be on board with The Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It shows what happens when you tell a crew on a Russian battleship to eat maggot stew and like it.
Not to ruin too much, but no, they don’t like it. A mutiny and a massacre unfurl during this 69-minute film, which turned out to be the most violent silent film I have checked out so far. Eisenstein pulls out all the stops, to the point that when you see an unmanned baby carriage at the top of the Odessa Steps and you can already sense that it will roll horribly to the bottom step, you still will be biting your nails all the way down.
Blood and gore aside, this film is also incredibly unusual for the time in the way that it was shot. Think of any American silent film, a Charlie Chaplin something-or-other, and the action is typically filmed over long shots that don’t snap back and forth between characters or other aspects of the scene. Potemkin is different. It’s filmed in a style that modern audiences are more used to, with quick perspective changes to intensify the emotion felt by the viewer.
I’ve tried watching movies like Birth of a Nation that I’d heard were groundbreaking, artistic pieces, and wound up bored out of my skull. I’ve heard the same thing about Potemkin, but the opposite happened. I enjoyed it, could see its merit as a film for sure, and on top of it all, was at a loss as to what it means to like something that’s meant to manipulate.
The Battleship Potemkin, 1925
Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov
Directed by: Sergei Eisenstein
Why to watch it: Google it, and some pretentious asshole will tell you why to give Potemkin a shot. I’ll just tell you that you won’t be disappointed, and if you expected nothing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, note that if you hate this old black and white shit, it’s a short run at around 70 minutes, so it’s not all Anna Karenina up in here.
Potemkin Mix Contains:
1. Tiger Rag (pt. 1) / Duke Ellington
2. Sor Kendine / Ersen
3. Cherub Rock, Smashing Pumpkins
4. The Legend of God’s Gun / Spindrift
5. Kelin Ati Len / Orchestre du Bawobab
6. En Casa del Trompo No Bailes / Orquestra Riverside
7. Tennessee Waltz / Patti Page
8. Lava / the B-52′s
9. The Great Pretender / The Platters
10. The Ghost with the Most / Almighty Defenders
11. Forcefield / Beck
12. Battle / Blur
13. Warszawa / David Bowie
14. Ghostwriter, RJD2
15. When the Saints go Marching In / The Delta Boys
16. Rooms and Bags / Intelligence
17. Halo, Depeche Mode