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Battleship Potemkin [Blu-ray] [Import]

Alexander Antonov , Vladimir Barsky , Sergei M. Eisenstein    NR (Not Rated)   Blu-ray
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 39.95
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Sergei Eisenstein's revolutionary sophomore feature has so long stood as a textbook example of montage editing that many have forgotten what an invigoratingly cinematic experience he created. A 20th-anniversary tribute to the 1905 revolution, Eisenstein portrays the revolt in microcosm with a dramatization of the real-life mutiny aboard the battleship Potemkin. The story tells a familiar party-line message of the oppressed working class (in this case the enlisted sailors) banding together to overthrow their oppressors (the ship's officers), led by proto-revolutionary Vakulinchuk. When he dies in the shipboard struggle the crew lays his body to rest on the pier, a moody, moving scene where the citizens of Odessa slowly emerge from the fog to pay their respects. As the crowd grows Eisenstein turns the tenor from mourning a fallen comrade to celebrating the collective achievement. The government responds by sending soldiers and ships to deal with the mutinous crew and the supportive townspeople, which climaxes in the justly famous (and often imitated and parodied) Odessa Steps massacre. Eisenstein edits carefully orchestrated motions within the frame to create broad swaths of movement, shots of varying length to build the rhythm, close-ups for perspective and shock effect, and symbolic imagery for commentary, all to create one of the most cinematically exciting sequences in film history. Eisenstein's film is Marxist propaganda to be sure, but the power of this masterpiece lies not in its preaching but its poetry. --Sean Axmaker

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It simply blows your mind. June 17 2003
I had the opportunity recently here in Germany to watch Potemkin in the big cinema with live music - played by a combo from Berlin (violin, drummer, bass and piano), that had written a new score for the film. They showed a restored version with the original russian subtitles. I had seen the film before in offside university cinemas with canned music and on tape, but I never realized what an impact the film can have. It simply blows your mind. The live music turned the film into a totally different expierence. Now I can unterstand why the film caused such turmoil back in the Twenties in Europe. It was banned repeatedly. The governments were afraid of it's impact, as well they should have been. Can you say that of any film today? The original music by Edmund Meisel - who by the way set new standards for film scores with his music for Potemkin - combined with the film genius of Eisenstein to create a film that transcended the normal cinema. It just didn't comment about politics, it created politics. I consider myself a pacifist - but while experiencing the film I had the feeling I ought to stand up, get out a red flag and blow up the next Townhall. The film - with the right music - can have that much of an impact. I was literally shaking during the "Odessa steps" sequence, largley due to the pounding music that accompanied the slaughter of the cossaks on the civilians.
I've never had that deep of an expierence in the cinema before with the possible exception of Kubrick's "2001" and Alexandro Jodorowsky's "El Topo", but I was high both times then. With Potemkin and the right music you don't need any help.
What I mean to say - Find the chance to experience the film the way it was meant to be expierenced. Full screen, the original version und live music. And by that I don't mean a single piano. It's got to be more. The movie will rip you out of the chair. Then you will realize what a masterpiece Eisenstein created.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Only if you can get it cheap. No special features. April 14 2004
The movie: 5 stars.
The dvd edition: 2 stars, okay picture, good score, no special features, average on the whole.
A nice little DVD edition, if you get it cheap. Not worth the same price as a Criterion DVD for its lack of special features and general cheap-lookingness.
Image was quite good, especially for a silent. The score, i believe, composed by Eistenstein collaborator Prokofiev, was wonderful.
If this is your only way of seeing Battleship Potemkin, however, i couldn't recommend it highly enough. The main attraction of this DVD is the movie itself, which is more than worth the price of entry. No matter how many people tell you about the Odessa steps sequence, you'll still be impressed by it. The most moving single sequence in all of silent cinema - and one of my favourite sequences in all cinema. Such brilliant editing, such brilliant movement down the steps. And the imaginative little episodes as we move down the steps: the famous pram rolling down the steps, the little boy who gets shot and trampled on, his wailing mother who picks him up and marches up the steps towards the descending cossacks (this moment is pictured on the DVD cover).
The movie is a very moving experience, and has become one of my favourites. If there is no Criterion edition or edition with special features, i'd say get this (but try not to pay too much for it - as i said, its pretty much just the movie).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Massacre at the Odessa Steps. March 26 2004
Whenever the subject of Sergei Eisenstein's "The Battleship Potemkin" comes up, it is virtually impossible not to immediately think of the amazing Odessa Steps sequence, but there is so much more to admire about this landmark film in addition to that legendary moment. It takes only one look to realize that it still maintains all of the emotional power and technical brilliance that it possessed all those decades ago.
The crew of the Battleship Potemkin returns home after its battle against Japan. A mutiny erupts onboard after the crew is given contaminated rations and soon news of their rebellious movement reaches shore. The sympathetic townspeople near the ship send them food and water but they are soon fired upon by troops sent to deal with the mutineers. The Russian fleet is then dispatched to destroy the Potemkin and put an end to the uprising.
"The Battleship Potemkin" is a propaganda product that has exceeded its original purpose to become something much more significant. When it was first made, the film was more important for its commentary on class struggle but it is now more renown for its innovations in cinematic storytelling. Eisenstein's use of juxtaposed images was the origin of the modern film montage and his editing techniques gave rise to a faster and more energetic narrative style that was much more satisfying than the start-and-stop, jarring method that characterized other films of the era. The expert craftsmanship typical of so many films made today owe "The Battleship Potemkin" a debt of gratitude for influencing their look and feel. Clearly this is one ship that has not sailed into the sunset to be forgotten.
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The need for serious film-buffs to own this film is so obvious that I hardly need reiterate it. Too many have called it the greatest film ever, or nearly so. Seeing it again, I have to agree that it is a powerful and finely-crafted film, of huge historical importance thanks in part to its many innovations in technique. While I still squirm at some of its blatant propagandism, I can look past that enough to appreciate the film's excellence.
Anyway, as to this DVD: the print is pretty good for a silent film, which means that you can make out what's going on about 90% of the time. Of course, the recent restoration of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" so completely spoils us now, with its incredible beauty and clarity, that it's hard to settle for anything less! But this printing of "Battleship Potemkin," from a 1976 Soviet restoration, remains quite respectable.
My main reservation is the music. Austrian composer Edmund Meisel composed a score specifically for this film at the time of its original release. Even though the present DVD version is a "restoration," it does not use the original music. Instead, the score a patchwork of extracts from Shostokovitch's symphonies (the opening scene of waves crashing is the beginning of the 1st movement of the 5th symphony; the opening of "Odessa Steps" with the ships moving in the harbor is the beginning of the same symphony's Scherzo). Great music, yes, but often not well-matched to the action.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
Has to be on the list of the top five best movies ever made. The black and white shoot adds another dimension of edginess to the film.
Published 15 months ago by Diran B. Horozian
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Cinema at its Finest!
Many silent films are difficult to sit through, even if the film contains a strong message such as The Birth of a Nation. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2008 by Brandon P. Reekers
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic, and Soviet propaganda...
"Revolution is war. Of all the wars known in history it is the only lawful, rightful, just, and truly great war... In Russia this war has been declared and begun". Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2007 by M. B. Alcat
2.0 out of 5 stars Russian classic has little for the modern viewer.
A movie that contains some very clever sequences and shots, particularly those of the massacre on the steps of the city. There isn't much of a story though. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2004 by Jonathon Allsopp
1.0 out of 5 stars Good film, terrible DVD
Most of the reviews posted here unfortunately review the film, not the product for sale. Little else can be said about Battleship Potemkin, Eisenstein's masterpiece and one of the... Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the effort.
Remembering that the film was both a product and a tool of the Soviet political machine, the hatred of the Tsarists is evident throughout. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful
With modern multi-million dollar blockbusters with computer effects, an OLD film like this can be difficult to watch. With the masterful scoring, it justs adds to the effect. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Eisestein's Genius is hard for modern audiences to watch
Battleship Potempkin is an historic milestone, and is useful for future directors to watch, but the film itself shows too many flaws to be in itself entertaining. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by Drew Olds
5.0 out of 5 stars I Loath Communism but This Movie is Great
Sergei Eisenstein's (1898-1948) most memorable contribution to the craft of filmmaking undoubtedly is the concept of the montage along with other important editing techniques that... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2003 by Jeffrey Leach
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