Battleship Potemkin is the second silent classic released on Blu-ray by Kino (and for that matter, any label) in the United States. I review the film and the disc for the Turner Classic Movies website.
Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin was commissioned by the Soviet government to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the failed 1905 uprising against the Czar. The government hoped for a traditional film extolling the heroism of the sailors who led the mutiny against the Czarist military commanders. Eisenstein delivered a film that carried his revolutionary message of collective action against corrupt authority in the very form of his film, most directly through the editing that put his theories of montage to practice. Battleship Potemkin is agitprop, but cinematically magnificent agitprop, an attempt to redefine the conventions of narrative storytelling away from emotional connections with the dramatic journeys of individual characters and into a “socialist ideal” of revolutionary art where the hero is the collective hero and the individuals are simply members of the movement: faces in a crowd dedicated to the ideals of social justice.