Battleship Potemkin (1925)
By the time you reach the famous scene from "Battleship Potemkin" which involves the city of Odessa and a staircase; you have already made it through over two-thirds of the movie. Why then, is this scene the most famous?
By title itself, you would think that this is a movie that involved a ship, and indeed it does. Yet, the point of the movie is about revolution and...yes, a staircase. Keep in mind that people in 1925 had rarely seen anything like the famous action sequence; but for those of us in the 21st century—"Battleship Potemkin" may have lost a little something in time.
The movie begins on a battleship at sea where the crew of the Potemkin are uneasy. They are sick of eating rotting meat, meat that the ship's doctor proclaims is fine to eat.
Revolution has started to seize much of Russia and the sailors are starting to contemplate the idea.
Mutinous thoughts are spreading throughout the ship, headed up by two or three sailors. They don't put any action behind their words until the ship's commander starts to kill those who speak out against the chain of command.
The sailors throw a revolution and take over the ship, not without casualties. Their leader is killed before the mutiny is finished.
The crew drops his body in the city of Odessa with a note on the corpse, explaining about the mutiny and the revolution.
The people of Odessa read the note and enter into a rather hasty frenzy. They scream and shout and give a large portion of their possessions to the sailors of the Potemkin. Then the ship sails out on the sea and does inspirational things, like staying in one place.
But the people of Odessa are still in an uproar, and the military invades and then comes the famous scene with the staircase.
"Battleship Potemkin" is a very famous movie, if only for that one action sequence. The rest of the movie takes too long, is too muddled, and doesn't have a clear enough motive.
For a work that seems to be propaganda of revolution and democracy, it's not very flattering of either. The people who riot are mindless and full of radical emotions.
Racism abounds in one line when some guys randomly screams out something like: kill the Jews! A line to which people give him dirty looks and he pulls down his hat and walks off, ashamed.
The movie is too hasty and too drawn-out in the same breath. It develops too quickly and also takes far too long in landscape scenes that don't continue the plot.
The scenes at sea contain shots where men set up and take down and polish the equipment, etc. etc. Yeah, it's cool that you can show these scenes; but what are they doing? Showing the day-to-day hardships of sea life? I don't think so.
There are some odd images that are remarkably contemporary, like a pair of glasses that are hanging lonely on a rope after a man was thrown overboard.
While some may praise "Battleship Potemkin" for its ingenuity, I fail to see what makes this film a classic.
Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones