Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Propaganda at its Best!

If legendary film director Sergei Eisenstein’s depiction of the mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin had been accurate, the Russian Revolution must have happened in 1905 instead of 1917. The 1925 silent film depicts the uprising aboard a battleship, belonging to the Imperial Russian Navy, during the politically unstable events in the timeframe of both the 1905 Revolution and the Russo-Japanese War. Eisenstein’s film begins with the oppression of proletariat sailors by the bourgeois officers under horrid conditions and ends with a Soviet fan fair depicting the glory of the entire event and leads viewers to think the revolt was the single event to topple Tsar Nicholas II.

Battleship Potemkin is clearly a propaganda film with the complete intention of showing the justified and righteous nature of the Soviet regime and demonizing Tsarist Russia. From the onset, the audience knows who the heroes (proletariats) are and who the villains (bourgeoisie) are. Each event from the serving of meat with maggots to the mutiny to the massacre on the Odessa Stairs by the Cossacks was designed to create loyalty to the soldiers who would presumably lead the revolution in 1917. Even the cinematography and soundtrack create intensely dramatic shots and scenes that must have been breathtaking for audiences at the time.

Battleship Potemkin is not a historical account of the actual 1905 mutiny, but rather an idealized and whitewashed version provided by the Soviet government. Nevertheless, the film depicts the anger and frustration felt by some Russians during the unstable years before the 1917 Revolution. Eisenstein’s film was critically influential to filmmaking and is a prototype of propaganda as an art form that was used not only by the Soviet Union, but Nazi Germany and other regimes.

Unit 4 Recording: http://www.box.net/shared/sl1gtxd36i

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