- Actors: Grigori Aleksandrov, Maksim Shtraukh, M. Mamin, Boris Yurtsev, Mikhail Gomorov
- Directors: Sergei M. Eisenstein
- Producers: Boris Mikhin
- Format: Color, DVD-Video, Silent, NTSC
- Language: Russian
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: eOne Films
- Release Date: July 25 2000
- Run Time: 82 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- ASIN: 6305908753
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,999 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Sergei Eisenstein's "Strike," with Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane," mark the most outstanding cinematic debuts in the history of film. Triggered by the suicide of a worker unjustly accused of theft, a strike is called by the laborers of a Moscow factory. The managers, owner and the Czarist government dispatch infiltrators in an attempt to break the workers unity. Unsuccessful, they hire the police and, in the film's most harrowing and powerful sequences, the unarmed strikers are slaughtered in a brutal confrontation. This edition of "Strike" is digitally remastered from a mint-condition 35mm print made from the original camera negative and features new digital stereo music composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra.
Top customer reviews
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.
There seems to be some problem with the encoding of this disk which makes its play very erratic, at least on a Macintosh DVD drive under OS 9. I have had two disks from Borders and two from Amazon, all of which had the same problem on two different Macs. Sometimes (rarely) the disk would play through. Most of the time, the DVD player would report "Scratched or damaged, or incorrect encoding" More rarely, the DVD player would report that it was missing a file it needed. I haven't had problems with other DVD's, including many from Image Entertainment, so this problem is frustrating and puzzling. I'd be interested to know if others have had problems with this disk. (Post experiences as reviews here)
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Of course, STRIKE is propaganda, too. Notably, we do not know the names of any single character until after he or she is dead. The worker who hangs himself leaves behind a suicide note, and only then do we find out his name. That is the trigger that launches the strike. At the end, after the massacre, a single title card appears with a bunch of first names. These two title cards cannot disguise the fact that we do not really have characters in this film, but archetypes--the manager, the stock holder, the strike leader, the spies (of a number of different kinds), etc.
The blu-ray is a magnificent presentation of the film. I cannot compare it with any of the several DVD releases, but I have a twenty-year old laserdisc from the boxed set on Soviet cinema, and the blu-ray transfer is much superior in every way (but one). The blu-ray shows more perimeter to the picture, and especially on the top side of the screen. That gives the film more headroom, and it really makes a difference in the full portrayal of the art of Eisenstein. Cut-off heads is one of my biggest gripes about silent film on home video. There is one magnificent take early in the film, projected in reverse, going from feet standing in a puddle, moving away, the puddle clears to show the reflections of smokestacks, then conspirators walk backwards into the reflection. When I was watching the cropped picture on the laserdisc I couldn't see clearly the technique that Eisenstein was using. It all became crystal clear while watching the blu-ray. Both picture and sound are excellent--the sound on the loud side, so I had to turn down my amp.
The laserdisc and blu-ray are produced from different prints, and they have damage in different places, mostly in the opening reel. These things might have been repaired, but do not detract greatly from the presentation.
I mentioned that there was one way I preferred the laserdisc, and that was in preserving the original Russian intertitles. While I do not read Russian, I find that having the original titles there helps remind me that we are, after all, watching a film from Russia. Also, in the case of this film, the titles interact with the film in a unique way. About two minutes into the film there is one title that playfully morphs into the following footage. That one original title was retained on the blu-ray, but all the others were replaced with oversized English titles. The original titles were medium sized, appropriate for the size of the screen. Use of the large type makes the film seem even more didactic and doctrinaire than it is. It certainly would have been possible to give us an option of Russian or English intertitles, as was done with the blu-ray release of Battleship Potemkin. Again, I say that something is lost when the original titles are entirely replaced, even when the new ones have high definition as in this case.
So, to document the film in its original release format, I am keeping the laserdisc. But I will be watching the blu-ray for the film itself. I think it is flat-footed at the end, but there are so many brilliant moments along the way that make the film rewarding to see again and again. The blu-ray maximizes those moments.
Eisenstein, like Carl Theodore Dryer after him, never made a bad film is his like. I am hoping that Kino restore and reissue every film that Eisenstein, the Master Film maker ever made. I will buy all of them.
This is not a traditional narrative, the USSR and Eisenstein in particular were more focused on the idea of stories less about characters and more about groups. It's the story of a factory going on a strike in Tsarist Russia, but it's so different from anything you see in the West, avoiding this film is a true shame. Also, Eisenstein was still developing his skill, and has more of a certain feeling POTEMKIN lacks.
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