A review of the classic film “The Battleship Potemkin” (1925)

This black white silent film directed by the legendary Sergei Eisenstein narrates the mutiny on the titular vessel in 1905 which can be seen as a forerunner of the two revolutions of 1917.

Except for the leader of the mutiny, all the roles were filled by ‘people off the streets’ and, in the Odessa steps sequence, many of the extras were people who had been present at the actual event. The close-ups of many of their faces are memorable features of this strikingly radical work. The other dramatic elements of this innovative film were the use of montage and symbolism, while the cutting is superb. 

The most memorable sequence is a segment of the slaughter on the Odessa steps: a pram with a baby inside tumbles downwards in a frightening juxtaposition of vulnerability and violence. The idea was replicated some six decades later in the concluding shoot-out of the gangster movie “The Untouchables”, a homage to the Russian Eisenstein from the American Brian De Palma. 


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