Film review in mythic and propagandistic aspects

8

2000

This was a period of incertitude for the Russians, during which communism was still unstable and so was the new Russia, hence the profound motivation for the Russian government’s use of propaganda to instill its political ethos in the Russian population. The film’s director Eisenstein takes great liberty and makes significant alterations to this historical record of events thus controlling the narrative structure and pacing of the film (Severson). This was Eisenstein’s attempt to create an effective and well-structured film that is not bound to the nuances of the historical record, but his key shots and scenes are in fact actual depictions of what took place in the Potemkin mutiny. The titular Battleship Potemkin was a true Russian navy ship and its crew that rebelled against their tsarist captain siding with the Bolshevics was a real record of the prototypical communist struggle before its eventual triumph in 1917 (Yahner). The sailors, who were the proletariats, are portrayed as the heroic everyman of the movie while the captain and the Tsarist soldiers, who were bourgeois, are scorned as the villains of the film. The film leverages on its fiery rhetoric and violent scenes to evoke anti-capitalism feelings in the audiences, while glorifying the communism philosophy. The film establishes its strong communist ethos through the character of Vakulinchuk, an Ukranian sailor in the Russian Navy who prior to his death in 1905 had served on the Russian battleship Potemkin and witnessed the events that had occurred. Similarly, the director further embellishes the films’ ethos through masterful editing skills rather than shooting the movie in a single scene-by-scene fashion as was the norm in the 1920s. Eisenstein pioneered most of the modern film editing techniques by flashing several characters and settings across the screen despite the limitation of technology at his time (Oheir). The fourth chapter of the film, the Odessa Staircase, became Eisenstein’s