Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Battleship Potemkin // Odessa Steps

Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent film The Battleship Potemkin presents a dramatized version of the naval mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin in 1905, and still stands as a fundamental film in the exploration of Soviet montage and political influence. It is perhaps most well known for it's 'Odessa Steps' sequence in which a bunch of innocent civillians are massacred by a heavily armoured tirade of Tsarist soldiers. The whole scene takes about 7 minutes, and through various cuts and layered action,tension and emotion build as the scene decends an seemingly endless set of steps....

While this particular scene is fictional and never actually happened by any account of the Potemkin mutiny, it IS representative of attacks which did happen, and it has been said that Eisenstein's intention was to provoke response and emotion by condensing events into one dramatised incident. Baring in mind that this type of scene was unfamiliar and quite shocking for the time, the juxtaposition of violence against innocence, predator against prey effectively does this.
It's here that I see some potential in exploring this further. The manipulating of real-time events in order to create heightened emotion fascinates me, in the same way many constructed narrative photographs have done.

Also, the way the scene is constructed through many different quick cuts, building and embedding individual battles within the overall attack, it gives the impression that the actual timespan last much longer. Time is not completely linear anymore and it really does appear drawn out, as I mentioned before, it takes FOREVER for them to descend the steps.
So I have a couple of ideas, but we will see how these pan out...

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