#27. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

battleship-potemkin-translated-posterI really didn’t enjoy this movie but, like with Eisenstein’s last one (Strike), found it interesting to at least study, read about. I guess a testament to Eisenstein’s innovation as a filmmaker is that his editing tricks seem totally unremarkable today, I guess because every good filmmaker uses them to some extent, but old reviews show that viewers of his time thought this was avant garde, occasionally to the point of incoherence. It’s clear that the Odessa steps scene is special for the way it bears his touch (same goes for the scene that follows it, about which I have found no commentary at all, wherein the opera house is bombed). The movie just isn’t fun for me. The beginning was sort of engaging, when we’re watching relations dissolve on the ship, but once the film switches its gears toward the drama taking place on land, I lost interest.

But it was also kinda neat to make note throughout the movie of how incredibly fucking bored I was. Whenever I find myself distinguishing between “interesting” and “enjoyable” I’m realizing that the latter is way more important to me. That I’d rather watch a movie (and I guess read a book) that’s emotionally engaging than something that’s just thought-provoking. I think it’s probably true of my social preferences as well. There are friends with whom I can talk at length about ideas, shared interests, but it seems at once strange and totally sensible that some of the best friendships I’ve ever had have been with people who, yeah, could talk for a while about movies and books but who, for the most part, came from totally different backgrounds and interests and life circumstances from my own and so, instead of ideas or whatever, we’d end up talking about sex, dating, family, God and food and traffic. The weather. Tell stories.

Probably most of the movie takes place at sea, but it’s best remembered for the massacre on the Odessa steps.

In Battleship Potemkin I think I feel again like the director’s trying to sell me something, same as he was with Strike, and while this movie’s a whole lot better than that one, more artful and heartfelt and smart, its goal is basically the same, its effect on me is the same, and once again I was glad when it ended.


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