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Gabriel de Gravone
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
The most watchable and least problematic of Eisenstein's masterpieces.
Eisenstein's most purely enjoyable film, possibly because the theorems are more lifelike. In many ways a comedy, as the villains (military, police, factory owners, underworld scabs) are caricatured and dehumanised, which makes the eventual horrors all the more shocking. The workers are, of course, idealised, but their paradise of laziness seems odd for a Communist work.
Montage is the thing, as ever with Eisenstein, both in terms of connecting images to create startling insights, and in making tense, exciting and inevitable the action; but there is an astonishing attention to compositional detail too, most haunting perhaps being the empty, abandoned, impotent, machine-heavy factories, or the vast-stepped drawing rooms of the bloated capitalists.
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