Battleship Potemkin

May 1, 2011 No Comments

This week the Detroit Film Theatre is presenting the newly restored print of Sergei Eisenstein’s classic film “The Battleship Potemkin.”   This 1925 masterpiece is a must see for those who have never experienced Potemkin on the big screen and a rare treat for those whose multiple viewings have not included the newly restored shots, intertitles and original score in this spendidly remastered version.

Eisenstein is probably best known for his development of “montage.”  According to Eisenstein “each (shot) taken separately corresponds to an object but their combination corresponds to a concept.”  Eisenstein did not just “shoot” images to record them, but understood that their combined presence created symbolic or metaphoric  meaning  beyond the sum of the individual shots.  He was convinced that the power of film came from montage and wrote extensively about his views. ( The Film Sense (1942) is accessible and worth the effort.)

The mutiny of the Potemkin by its war-weary sailors seems sadly relevant in 2011.  The famous massacre on the steps in Odessa has been copied and parodied numerous times (the infamous baby carriage careening down the Odessa steps and the “awakening” of the sleeping lions etc are  riveting examples of Eisenstein’s montage magic.)   Overly dramatic?  No doubt.   Compelling? Absolutely!

Potemkin is not a “silent” film.  The original musical score is carefully used to create the sound and tempo of the film’s action.    Spoiler alert!  Don’t miss the very specific use of color in this otherwise black and white film.

The DFT has scored once again in bringing a quality film experiences to Detroit.   Battleship Potemkin will be shown for a single screening only on Saturday, March 26th at 4pm.  See you there!

Jolyn Wagner

DFT Presents, Must See Movie of the Week

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