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Sergei M. Eisenstein
Charles Frederick Lindsley,
In documentary style, events in Petrograd are re-enacted from the end of the monarchy in February of 1917 to the end of the provisional government and the decrees of peace and of land in November of that year. Lenin returns in April. In July, counter-revolutionaries put down a spontaneous revolt, and Lenin's arrest is ordered. By late October, the Bolsheviks are ready to strike: ten days will shake the world. While the Mensheviks vacillate, an advance guard infiltrates the palace. Anatov-Oveyenko leads the attack and signs the proclamation dissolving the provisional government. Written by
With detailed and interesting settings, carefully planned montages and other techniques, plenty of realistic action, and an obvious enthusiasm of the director for the subject, this is an exciting portrayal of a tumultuous time. It's well-crafted, and the pace never lags. Each scene is so realistic and interesting that it gives you a definite feeling of having been there in the summer and fall of 1917, watching history unfold.
The movie leaves no doubt as to its perspective, but aside from a few overstated opinions in the titles, it rarely seems forced or heavy-handed. This really was a time filled with many tensions, high emotions, and sudden changes, and its portrayal of these is thoroughly believable. If anything, it probably distorts and stylizes history rather less than do the vast majority of the 'historical' movies that are made in the present era. The film does also assume that you know a certain amount of the background to the events that it depicts (background that its intended audience would certainly have known well), and anyone who does not remember the main figures and issues would probably enjoy the movie more after a brief review of the history. But it would hardly be necessary to know everything, since the story is told with such skill and detail.
There are many specific details that could be praised, and many sequences that are especially absorbing. It's a movie that deserves to be seen, and not just by those of us who are interested in silent films and history. In terms of history, later events called into question many of the assumptions and motivations behind the events and characters depicted in "October". But in terms of cinema, it cannot be questioned that this is an excellent film.
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