Category Archives: Battleship

The THEY and the WE

The genre of the manifesto is one that focuses on creating a collective “we” of different types of people that go through a similar type of oppression from a higher power. In it, the writer creates an active voice that calls all those that read it to act up in accordance with this collective “we.” The genre also makes the assumption that revolution is always inevitable through its rhetoric, and that it is necessary to radically change social roles in order to successfully create a revolution. As such, the person reading it cannot be half-hearted in his or her decision to act with the revolution: they must be for the goals of the people, or against them.

A different way to define the “us.”

Throughout the movie The Battleship Potemkin, there are many instances where the elements of the manifesto are incorporated in the scenes, such as the conflict between higher and lower power, and the creation of the united “we.” For instance, in the scene where the admirals and captains confronted the sailors for not eating their soup from the ship chef, we see a distinct “them” and “we” differentiated. In this part, the “them,” or those with high-ranking positions, are seen in darker clothing, and may be labeled as the bad guys due to the way they are treating the sailors. The “we” is created by their form of clothing as well, such as how the sailors are all dressed the same. To help with the distinction, the different groups are physically located in different regions of the scene as well.

The distinct positions for the different groups.

There is also the scene with the citizens on land that help rally themselves to go to the battleship and feed the sailors themselves through different foods they give, like chicken or pig. Although the citizens all wore different things, we still see a “we” by the way that they all seem to cheer the small boats and the battleship on. This “we” is contrasted with “them,” where we find soldiers that begin shooting the citizens that are helping the battleship, no matter what age or gender. These soldiers have specialized clothes and descend as one unit, making them easily distinguishable between them and the citizens.

Getting a chicken from a member of “us.”

The manifesto is in itself a prototype for The Battleship Potemkin because the role of the manifesto is used as the plot of the movie. In almost any of the scenes in the movie, there is a tension between a “them” and a “we.” In these scenes, these labels are rather easy to distinguish, if not for the way they dress, then the position that they are in when compared to one another. For this movie specifically, the separation of these roles are an important point that it continuously distinguishes. Much of the plot was driven by this defining of roles, where the “we” would always somehow be in conflict with the “them.”