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Sergei M. Eisenstein
Sergei M. Eisenstein
In Russia's factory region during Czarist rule, there's restlessness and strike planning among workers; management brings in spies and external agents. When a worker hangs himself after being falsely accused of thievery, the workers strike. At first, there's excitement in workers' households and in public places as they develop their demands communally. Then, as the strike drags on and management rejects demands, hunger mounts, as does domestic and civic distress. Provocateurs recruited from the lumpen and in league with the police and the fire department bring problems to the workers; the spies do their dirty work; and, the military arrives to liquidate strikers. Written by
012: Strike (1925) - released in Russia 4/28/1925; viewed 8/4/05
A law is passed in Tennessee prohibiting the teaching of evolution. The Great Tri-State Tornado tears through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby.
BIRTHS: Rod Steiger, George Cole, Eugen Weber.
KEVIN: Sergei Eisenstein's debut feature Strike was something else entirely. Every single frame of this film from the shots, the editing, the lighting, the over-the-top performances and even the themes were beyond anything we've seen so far. People must have thought Eisenstein was crazy to make films the way he did, especially on his first feature. With the kind of imagery he put on the screen, it must have been hard for his film crews to keep up with his mind. This film definitely has an underdog quality that would continue into Eisenstein's future films, most notably Potemkin. This film does have a gritty sense of reality, even though the characters are fairly two-dimensional and over-the-top. The way the camera moves with the close-ups and the very sharp focus is incredibly unique for the period, as are the kinds of harrowing images that we see over the course of the story. Here we see things happening, like the rioters being sprayed with fire hoses and the cops dropping babies off balconies, that other directors like Griffith or Murnau would never have the guts to shoot.
DOUG: It would be silly to watch all these silent films and not watch anything from Eisenstein. It is clear right from the start that he was doing things on film that no other filmmaker had dreamed of doing. The look of the shots, the lighting, the angles, the way the camera moves, and of course the editing, all of it is very unique for the time, and in fact looks very modern. Many scenes could be filmed shot-for-shot today, in color, with sound, and they would not look the slightest bit old fashioned. The editing is quite unique; Eisenstein recognized that editing could be used as stylistically as the writing or the directing to tell the story and set the mood, and used it thus in virtually all of his films. I noticed a few similarities to Potemkin, like the citizens rising up to battle the oppressive government. Eisenstein seems to have been interested in showing the steadfast camaraderie unique among the working class of Russia (perhaps it was a Communist thing). The music in this version was quite memorable; I kept on thinking of the band Stomp, who perform songs by banging trashcan lids and broom handles. There are cues in the musical score that are meant to work as sound effects.
Last film: Seven Chances (1925). Next film: The Gold Rush (1925).
The Movie Odyssey is an exhaustive, chronological project where we watch as many milestone films as possible, starting with D.W. Griffith's Intolerance in 1916 and working our way through, year by year, one film at a time. We also write a short review for each film before we watch the next, never reading the other's review before we finish our own. In this project, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the time period, the films of the era, and each film in context, while at the same time just watching a lot of great movies, most of which we never would have watched otherwise.
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