Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Movies 101 - Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin – 75 min - UR
This movie tells the story of one battleship in the Russian navy in 1905 that was the birth of a rebellion. The crew revolt against the Tsarist Officers in the crew. They have only one loss in the coup and lay to rest his body on the dock in Odessa. The locals see the body and the sign that said “he was killed over a spoonful of borscht”. His death moves the locals and they support the mutinous crew. Their support cost them in retaliation from the local Tsar’s soldiers. The soldiers start shooting into the crowed and kill many civilians. The battle ship retaliates and takes out a government building. The admiral’s squadron sailed in to confront the Potemkin. There are tenuous scenes where they prepare for a fight but unsure of how they will be received by the oncoming ships. The ships sail up and the confrontation ends in a celebration of the brave crew that threw off the yolk of the tyrannous regime.

This was an unapologetic propaganda film, made to drum up support for the rebellion of the crew. You can see it in the way that people were very animated and many different shots of elements that everyone can identify with. The evil soldiers were very robotic and we never see their faces we only see them move like relentless and emotionless automatons and we see them shoot over and over again. This movie was made in 1925 and the violence of the stairway scene was quite horrific. Even for today there are some shots that cross a line or two. They are not as ... juicy as we make movies today but the emotional tie to the characters is undeniable.
I studied the editing experiments of Eisenstein in the Montage, a way of cutting a film together that combines two shots to tie in a connection between them. A famous example I heard (I am unsure if it was him) you take a picture of a man without any emotion and set it next to a picture of a little girl playing; a viewer will infer that the man was happy and thinking about his grand-daughter. If you take that same set up and show a grave stone, the viewer will infer that the man was sad and thinking about death. Nothing changes form the first seven the synthesis of the shots infers meaning.
My take away:
This is a great movie to watch for an example of how to direct a viewer to feel a specific way, through the power of editing. How you cut a film together is vital to the way people receive it. Again we see that film can be used to influence people’s thoughts ideas and feelings by tapping into emotional responses.
I watched this movie on Hulu

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