October (Ten Days that Shook the World)
- 1h 35min
A large-scale view on the events of 1917 in Russia, when the monarchy was overthrown.A large-scale view on the events of 1917 in Russia, when the monarchy was overthrown.A large-scale view on the events of 1917 in Russia, when the monarchy was overthrown.
It's a young man's film and completely of its time and place, that is to say it gives a romanticised and idealised view of the Bolshevic revolution and its origins. The Tsar is directly compared to a horse's arse, Lenin harangues from the front of a steam engine, the proletariat are the true beneficiaries of the revolution. Statues fall apart and are re-formed in reverse motion, the people re-enact the storming of the winter palace (and climb its real gates), the battles cross-cut from faces and hands to carefully staged set pieces. In the second most famous sequence in early film history (the other being the Odessa steps from Potyomkin), a young woman's hair flops over the edge of a rising bridge while a cart and dead horse drop into the water.
The film is politically naive but decades ahead of its time in every other respect. The young people who inhabit these pages might like to compare its editing and pacing with that of the average music video and CGI-driven special effects film. I contend there is essentially nothing in these which they will not find in Eisenstein, and in October (Oktyabr) in particular. Yes, it's black and white, and silent but for the lately added score, and yes, it's from the early 20th century (by no means the earliest history of film), but it still stuns after repeated viewing. This is where modern film-making started, and everything we think we know about it (slow motion, montage, cross-cuts, reverses, you name it) had its origins in Eisenstein. The inter-titles (not sub-titles) still go on too long, though.
- Feb 4, 2005