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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
Sergei Eisenstein's "Strike", like his more well-known films, is interesting and contains some memorable imagery. The story is worthwhile in itself, and it repays careful attention because of the considerable detail that is shown using Eisenstein's distinctive approach. It lacks any particularly interesting characters, but then, so did "Battleship Potemkin". Only an occasional lack of polish sets this apart from Eisenstein's later films.
The story starts with the situations that provoke the strike, and then follows developments on both sides of the dispute. It becomes surprisingly involved for what seems at first to be a simple confrontation. There is quite an assortment of situations, settings, and characters. On occasion, the images are overdone, occasionally even off-putting, but you can already see the creative use of imagery that Eisenstein would later use so effectively.
"Strike" will probably be of interest mainly to those who already appreciate Eisenstein's films, but it is worth seeing. It is really only a cut below "Potemkin", which itself, though generally the most-praised of his films, might actually be surpassed by some of his later works. In any case, "Strike" displays the same kind of style, and has several of the characteristics of the fine classics that were to come.
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