Battleship Potemkin: View two Revolutions through Montage Technique

The film Battleship Potemkin directed by Eisenstein is about the conflict between proletarians and inhuman domination of the higher authority. The sailor is not satisfied with the food because they are crawling with maggots, thus they complain that even Russian POWs in Japan is fed with better food. However, their officers ignore the problem and results a riot which sailors push all the officers into the ocean. However, the leading sailor gets shot during the riot. As his body is presented in front of the people, it provokes people and causes a bigger conflict between people and officers. Eisenstein’s use of Montage technique on the two revolutions portrayed the brutality of authority and expressed the suffrage of people under this domination.


The message “Give us this day our daily bread” on the plate 

The first revolution, which is between sailors and their superiors due to the food contamination, is connected to the theme of this class, food. As a crucial necessity in sustain lives, food leads to the beginning of the revolution. Moreover, as a silent, black and white film, the red flag scene added a shocking element into the film. It not only represents the nationalism of proletarian, but also represents the people’s solid faith of victory. In addition, the Montage technique was used on the soldier when washing the plate and saw the message on the plate, “Give us this day our daily bread”. There are many separated shots used as this soldier complete his plate smashing sequence in order to emphasize soldier’s rage and dissatisfaction towards contamination of food.


The woman walking towards soldiers while holding her injured child 

The second revolution, which is between people and authority, is caused by the presentation of sailor’s body which provokes the crowd to fight against the governmental authority. The Montage usage in the second revolution is highly emphasized in the stairs when the soldiers are shooting at the crowd. One of the Montage scenes is displayed as the mother lost her children while she is running away from gun fires. Then the child gets shot and is being stepped by people who are escaping. The repeated shots switch between mother’s face and child seems extremely realistic and makes a strong impact to audience. Furthermore, the woman in black dress who is pushing the baby stroller is frightened and paralyzed on the stairs, where she gets shot at the belly and the baby stroller falls down the stair while other people still trying to escaping from gun fires. The solemn and stirring orchestra and countless Montage usage in this stair scene created a historical impression regarding domination of the government and the oppression of people.

Eisenstein’s usage of Montage on the two revolutions significantly demonstrated the theme of this film, rebellions is created through inequality and oppression, and the brutality of extreme government. However, the importance and influence of this film is not only presented in the extraordinary use of Montage, but also through music, shooting angle, and most importantly, the theme that Eisenstein is trying to reflect. In conclusion, the film Battleship Potemkin is the best example of Montage, rise of proletarians, and claim of freedom in the history of cinema. 


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