Battleship Potemkin

Russia, 1925 / 72 Mins

Director: Sergei Eisentein

“Even now I feel again the emotion it aroused in all of us. When we left the theatre, we started erecting barricades ourselves. The police had to intervene before we would stop.”
Luis Buñuel, My Last Sigh, 1982

Declared the greatest film of all time at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair and one of only two films to have appeared on all of Sight & Sound’s critics’ polls (1952–2002), Battleship Potemkin has also been widely censored, as much out of fear of the perceived influence of its ideas as for any contentious material on screen.

In essence, it tells a five-part story of a naval mutiny leading to full-blown revolution, but while this material could be crudely propagandist in other hands, Eisenstein uses images of such dynamic compositional strength and editing of such frame-perfect precision that it’s hard not to be swept along, regardless of personal politics. Despite endless quotation and parody, the set-piece massacre on the Odessa Steps still packs a sledgehammer punch.

South West Silents are proud to present one of the true classics of cinema on the big screen in full blown High Definition. Film courtesy of the BFI.

Recorded soundtrack of Edward Meisel's 1926 score to accompany the film.