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Battleship Potemkin [Blu-ray]
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This legendary film was produced in 1925 by Mosfilm, at the height of the silent cinema period and is, perhaps, the most famous example of the Soviet school of editing whose style and theories are deeply influential even today!
The film is divided in five episodes: "Men and Maggots" (showing the sailors revolting when forced to eat rotten meat), "Drama at the Harbor" (which shows the revolt being smashed and its leader killed), "A Dead Man Calls for Justice" (showing the people of Odessa crying the loss of the revolt's leader), "The Odessa Staircase" (showing the Army marching over the people - and killing them) and the final episode: "Rendez-Vous with the Squadron" which closes the film.
Now, the problem with BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN is that, being regarded as a masterpiece (like METROPOLIS, BIRTH OF A NATION, PANDORA'S BOX, INTOLERANCE and CABIRIA), it is also a work with a high degree of political content (like TRIUMPH OF THE WILL) and, like many of those films, it has been censored, cut, re-cut several times... until virtually none of the several circulating versions of it (most in public domain and lousy shape) meets the version made by Eisenstein.
Kino joined forces with the Deutsche Kinematek, the Russia's Goskinofilm, the British Film Institute, Bundesfilm Archive Berlin, and the Munich Film Museum in order to present this all new restoration. Shots have been replaced, and all 146 title cards restored to Eisenstein's specifications.Read more ›
Picture: The picture quality is a vast improvement. Previous releases were blurry, low-resolution, and generally covered with dirt and scratches. The picture on Kino's release is crystal-clear, looking better than ever.
Sound: I suppose I should say "music," but regardless, this is another vast improvement. The previous DVD release I mentioned replaced the original Edmund Meisel score with a tinny monstrosity by Shostakovich. Meisel's music has been rerecorded in beautiful stereo and re-synched to the film.
Special features: A making-of documentary covering the film and its restoration, as well as a photo gallery are both good and definitely interesting, but the major selling point on this DVD is the restored image and music.
Overall, I can say little more than that this is an outstanding treatment of a truly great film. If you've been disappointed in previous DVD releases of Potemkin or have been waiting for a good one, this is it.
POTEMKIN is a film in which individual characters are much less important than the groups and crowds of which they are members, and it achieves its incredible power by showing the clash of the groups and crowds in a series of extraordinarily visualized and edited sequences. Amazingly, each of these sequences manage to top the previous one, and the film actually builds in power as it moves from the mutiny to the citizen's rally to the massacre on the Odessa steps--the latter of which is among the most famous sequences in all of film history. Filming largely where the real events actually occurred, director Eisenstein's vision is extraordinary as he builds--not only from sequence to sequence but from moment to moment within each sequence--some of the most memorable images ever committed to film.
To describe POTEMKIN as a great film is something of an understatement. It is an absolute essential, an absolute necessity to any one seriously interested in cinema as an art form, purely visual cinema at its most brilliant, often imitated, seldom equaled, never bested.
That being said, this particular DVD is a transfer from a video version, and it shows. The version here is actually the 1976 Soviet "restoration," which seems cobbled together from several different versions. The title cards switch between English-only and Russian with English subtitles; sometimes the shots are clear, sometimes they're grainy and scratched. The projection speed, as often happens in video transfers, is wrong, and often inconsistent. Worst of all, the classic shot of the ship hoisting a red flag at the end lacks the colour tinting--thus eliminating one of the key images of the film's climax. As a version, overall, it's not bad, but I have heard that there is a 2004 restoration that presumably treats this film the way other classic silents have been treated (see, for example, the excellent Kino Video versions of DW Griffith films, or the restored *Metropolis* for an idea of what these films really can look like); I would save my money and wait for one of those versions to appear.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sergei Eisenstein at his best. A Bolshevik/Soviet propaganda piece of brilliant effect, and an exquisite production.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Eisenstein was arguably Russia's greatest director and this his greatest work - I saw this film many years ago in film class at university. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Con Brio
It seems odd to criticize the soundtrack for a silent film. But, nonetheless, the only complaint I can make is the occasional cutting out from the music score which becomes... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Stratiotes Doxha Theon
The Odessa stairs scene is a classic for all cinephiles as the progenitor of sophisticated film editing. Otherwise is stilted and dated. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Paul M. Steinle
There is something special about these old movies its like they invented everything! At times i couldn't believe this movie is so old, it's like these old movies are inventing... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tomer Ben David
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Did you actually SEE the second disc of the set? THEY DO GIVE YOU THE ORIGINAL EDITION! The second disc is the original Russian version. Get your facts straight. (I know this is nearly 2 years late, but it doesn't matter...)
Nov 2, 2009 by Franco Ferrer | See all 2 posts
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