A review of the 1928 film classic “October 1917”

This is the black & white silent movie, written and directed by Grigoriy Aleksandrov and Sergei Eisenstein, which was produced to mark the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and covers the dramatic events of February to November 1917. Famously it was created on such a grand scale – many scenes were shot on the actual sites of the events portrayed and 11,000 extras were used for the storming of the Winter Palace – that there were more injuries in the making of the film than in the actual revolution.

If one does not know the details of the period and event, the narrative is a bit confusing and the messaging is simplistic and polemical, but this is a well-regarded classic because of the stunning cinematography with unusual angles, striking compositions and innovative use of montage plus the appearance of some wonderful faces. All the scenes involving Trotsky had to be cut out and Lenin has a surprisingly low profile, while Kerensky and Kornilov are vilified.

For a more accurate and balanced account of the revolution, read “Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991” by Orlando Figes – my review here.


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