Movies have served many purposes. They make you laugh, cry, they even make you angry. But sometimes movies are used as propaganda to call you to action. As it is with Battleship Potemkin. This 1925 silent movie masterpiece is a dramatization of the 1905 mutiny of the battleship crew against not only their superiors, but also of the Russian Tsarist regime.
If you think that a movie with no dialogue can’t affect you, then you need to see this movie. The storytelling, the videography, the sheer number of people they use in this film, is compelling.
There is so many things I want to tell you about this movie, but I, I just can’t. I don’t want to ruin it for you. This movie is so intense, much more than I expected for a movie from the time period. We in the modern age, seem to think we have cornered the market on suspense and action. Not even close.
Okay one scene, when the captain rounds up a group of detractors. See the very beginnings of the mutiny starts over food. Even though the crew of the Potemkin are hard workers they are being feed from the bottom of the barrel. This includes rotten, maggot filled meat. When the men finally stand up and refuse to be treated this way, the upper ranks clamp down. Which brings us back to the group of detractors. The Captain orders them assassinated. It’s crazy enough to see a group of men cowering and taking what may be their last breaths. But when they are collectively covered with a large cloth, presumably a sail, it becomes even more bizarre. Now they are just a bunch of legs, no longer men, you do not see the horror and fear on their faces. Objects, probably as the captain saw them everyday. Impersonal but so much more dramatic.
Just go watch it.