If the quick and easy label is to call Sergei Eisenstein the Orson Welles of Soviet cinema, chronology notwithstanding, then "Strike" ("Stachka") is the great director's "Citizen Kane." This comparison would be dictated not by the greatness of this 1924 silent film, but rather by the fact "Strike" was Eisenstein's debut film. What the young Eisenstein clearly has in common with the young Welles is the reckless creativity of a kid with a brand new toy. The story is about the strike of factory workers in Czarist Russia in 1912, which ends with the rebellious comrades being brutally beaten down.
Eisenstein might be consumed with exploring the boundaries of cinematic technique, but he does evince some basic storytelling skills here. The climatic tragedy is set up initial comic element, which gain our sympathy for the workers on a human rather than an ideological level. Certainly a management that brings in spies and agents to infiltrate the oppressed workers cannot be supported. The strike begins after a factory worker, falsely accused of being a thief, hangs himself. The initial excitement over the prospects of success faded as the strike goes on and on. When the provocateurs hired by management finally bring things to a head, the tired and hungry workers are no match for the military troops that come to crush them. "Strike" features Grigori Aleksandrov as the Factory Foreman, Aleksandr Antonov as a Member of Strike Committee, Yudif Glizer as the Queen of Thieves, and I. Ivanov as the Chief of Police.
The more you know about Eisenstein's later works, the more you will recognize the raw cinematic techniques he displays in his first film as being refined in his later masterpieces. I know the obvious comparison is to look at "Battleship Potemkin" after screening "Strike," but I think the most profitable analog is with Alexander Dovzhenko's 1929 "Arsenal," which deals with a similar subject, namely a 1918 strike by Bolshevik works in Kiev. "Strike" runs 75 minutes and this Kino on Video edition has been digitally mastered from a mint 35mm print taken from the original negative. The presentation of this silent film is enhanced by a new score by the Alloy Orchestra.