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|The Battleship Potemkin|
|Date||Wednesday August 31|
|Time||7:30 PM - 9:30 PM|
|Import this event into your personal calendar.|
390 27th Street
uptown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway
|HumanistHall [at] Yahoo.com|
Film evenings begin with potluck refreshments and social hour at 6:30 pm,
followed by the film at 7:30 pm, followed by a discussion after the film.
The Battleship Potemkin
by Sergei Eisenstein
This classic silent film is based on a slice of real history of Russia — the 1905 unsuccessful Bolshevik revolution against the Tzar. Fed up with the extreme cruelties of their officers and their maggot-ridden meat rations, the soldier-sailors of the battleship Potemkin stage a violent mutiny. This, in turn, sparks an abortive citizens’ revolt against the Tzarist regime. This historic film illuminates this true story in five segments.
The first segment, “The Men and the Maggots,” features workers striking in Russia. The crew of the battleship Potemkin feel a certain kinship for the plight of their brothers. The film opens with the enlisted men on the battleship sleeping in hammocks — while the officers beat them for imagined slights. On deck, the sailors argue with their officers over rotten meat. Sergei Eisenstein clearly shows class distinctions between the officers and men, with the irony that the ship is kept clean and polished by the crew, but the meat offered to them is rancid, riddled with maggots. The second segment, “Drama in the Harbor,” begins as the men are called on deck. Those who didn’t like the rancid soup are separated out, covered with a tarpaulin, and a firing squad established. Orders are given to fire, and an aged figure holding a religious icon appears, and the squad refuses to fire on their own men. A free-for-all breaks out and the sailors kill or throw overboard the officers and take control of the ship. The sailor who made the call for resistance is killed by an officer, and the martyr is brought to the port city of Odessa. In the third segment, “A Dead Man Calls For Justice,” the townspeople walk by the body to pay their respects. This is the man who was killed for a bowl of soup. Eisenstein cast mostly nonprofessionals based on how they looked, not for their acting skills. The film establishes no characters, and therefore has little emotional bond with its audience. The audience cares about the outcome of the story, and less about the people portrayed. In a small on-camera role, Eisenstein looks like a young student (he was 27), and his enthusiasm is clear in the energy of the film.
The most renowned segment of the film is the fourth, masterfully edited, “The Odessa Staircase.” The townspeople are on the town steps cheering the sailors when Tzarist troops appear at the top and start shooting the unarmed populace. Rather than tell the story in an epic manner, Eisenstein individualizes the massacre with close-ups and medium shots, including the ironic juxtaposition of a baby carriage rolling down the steps amid the carnage. The final segment of the film, “The Meeting With the Squadron,” is still powerful. The Potemkin heads out to sea, uncertain if the other Tzarist ships will fire on them or join them in rebellion. In the conclusion of the film, Shostakovich’s music comes to life, perfectly supporting the action.
Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street
$5 donations are accepted