Battleship Potemkin (1925/2005)
July 25th, 2007 by Maxim · 2 Comments · 8,411 Views
I got the latest (or one of the most recent ones) Pet Shop Boys album, “Battleship Potemkin“. I was interested because I am a big fan of the movie. Sergei Eisenstein directed this silent movie in 1925 – just a few months after Stalin came to power. Since he was a Jew he didn’t get to make any more movies. But this one is a world renowned masterpiece. It was inspired by events in 1905 which were basically the first signs of the tsarist regime collapsing and revolutionary movement sparking all over Russian empire. An incident began with an uprising of sailors against the officers because of meet contaminated with maggots begin fed to them, who in Russian army were always aristocrats. Aristocrats were by definition landlords, and after Stolypin’s failed land reform which, instead of liberating surfs by offering them to buy out their land, made surfs even poorer because few could afford to buy the land out and had to go into debt or sell their families to buy the land out from the landlords. Ironically, the battleship is called after prince Potemkin who pushed Turks out of Crimea during the rain of Katherine the Great, and got vast territory of eastern Ukraine and Crimean peninsula as a prize (That’s why he’s called prince Potemkin Tavrichesky – Taurida is Greek for Crimean peninsula. Greeks have discovered it and created many settlements, the city of Chersoneses in particular (not to be confused with Chersonesus), long before Homer wrote the Iliad in 8th century BC). So, naturally, at that point aristocracy was an enemy of people. The Tsar sent two other battleships to intercept Potemkin and subdue the uprising, but the sailors on these ships joined the uprising. They decided to send a descent on Odessa and take the power over. The people of Odessa were supposed to support the uprising. The Tsar had sent elite troops to the city and the incident ended a day later with a massacre. The massacre scene had inspired Eisenstein to produce the famous episode when people are running under fire down the stairs, a mother is shot and killed and her stroller begins to roll down the stairs with a baby in it. This episode has in turn inspired generations of directors to repeat the same scene. We can see the same scenario unfolding in “Untouchables” and then later in a spoof, “Naked Gun”.
Anyway, turned out that Pet Shop Boys’ album has almost the same length of the track as the movie, and I thought it could actually be a soundtrack for the movie. I haven’t verified this theory. Regardless, it’s a pretty clever album. It has a modern feel to it because of all the electronic music, but also gives you feel of the vastness of events with very dramatic string section. Enjoyed it.
If you haven’t seen the movie, get it at your local library or on Netflix or BB. The movie is silent and in black&white. Have patience. This is one of the first movies every produced by a Soviet director, and solely by that fact alone will be interesting to people with open mind and intellect. It is historically accurate. Great acting. Remember though that in silent movies everybody is a mime, so their facial expressions flow like the waves on the ocean. I think I need to write a separate article about this masterpiece movie sometime. I only wrote this entry in the blog because I discovered Pet Shop Boys’ album with the same name.
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