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Potemkin / Battleship Potemkin / Bronenosets Potemkin

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  Potemkin  / Battleship Potemkin / Bronenosets Potemkin Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
9.72 /10
A. Antonov, Vladimir Barski, Grigori Alexandrov
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Directed by: Sergei Eisenstein
Written by: Sergei Eisenstein

Released: 1925
Origin: USSR
Length: 75


The crew of a battleship mutinies against rotten food, and is joined by the disgruntled civilian population. The revolt is brutally put down by Tsarist troops.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film was a trail-blazer in its day, notable for its ground-breaking use of montage. The famous sequence on the Odessa steps remains a masterpiece of editing, much imitated and parodied - by Woody Allen in Bananas (1971), Terry Gilliam in Brazil (1985), Brian de Palma in The Untouchables (1987) and David Zucker in Naked Gun 33 1/3 (1994).

However, the story is told in ludicrously melodramatic terms, and characterisation is negligible. The appearance of documentary realism - much praised by film academics - is especially questionable, since Eisenstein plays fast and loose with historical facts to suit his political masters. The massacre on the Odessa steps, for example, is pure invention.

Potemkin was voted greatest picture of all time by international panels of critics in 1948, 1950 and 1958. Important though it is, rather too much of its reputation stems from the Left’s determination to rally in defence of a film long banned in the West as Soviet propaganda - which it undoubtedly was.

“I have seen your film Battleship Potemkin and admired it very much. What we should like would be for you to do something of the same kind, but rather cheaper, for Ronald Colman.”
(Sam Goldwyn, to Sergei Eisenstein)

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