Battleship Potemkin, a silent movie created by Sergei Eistentein back in 1925, became a critically acclaimed giant piece of propaganda that depicts a fight between two opposing classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariats. A distinct rift between the two classes is felt as the movie continues, one that relies on various symbolic references and events in order to provide such a feeling. Although there is an initial disunity amongst the proletariats an eventual rise of solidarity brings what can be deemed as the “lower class” together against the officers or bourgeoisie. This solidarity though extends farther than just those amongst the ship, but even to those at the bay and at the end even to those who are at the onset opposing the rising mutiny on the Potemkin. Overall the silent movie through the use of symbolic food is able to help audiences empathize with the proletariats thus making Battleship Potemkin such amazing propaganda.
The silent movie is split into multiple “sections”, of which the first is titled “The Men and the Maggots.” A title that foreshadows the plot sequence, the men of the Potemkin find maggots in their meat. The disgusting sight disgruntles the sailors of the ship who then complain to their officers, the bourgeoisie. A doctor is eventually consulted who tells the sailors that the meat is not rotten and that the maggots can just be washed out with brine. The maggots themselves are symbolic of the sailors in the sense that their complains and needs are easily washed away by the authority of the high ranking officials on board like how the maggots can be washed out by the brine. The joint struggle in trying to obtain better food brings solidarity to the group.
Another scene of solidarity is when the sailors are washing dishes and find a plate inscribed with the words “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”. A religious reference, the verse reminds the sailors of their dilemma, one that preoccupied their minds. In a struggle the sailor who had found the dish slams it down, shattering the dish reflecting how the fragmentation of the ship’s members. The audience witnesses said fragmentation in the scene where the officers try to have marines execute those who refused to eat the soup made with the rotten meat. The lower class rise up and toss the officers into the sea, coming full circle in the sense that the officers instead of the sailors were washed away with the brine.
The scenes of food bring together yet divide the ship’s members at the same time. The scenes push the proletariats, the sailors, against the bourgeoisie, the officers, in a battle over authority and justice. The movie uses these two groups as propaganda in order to have the working class unite under one flag. As one sailor puts it in the beginning, “We the sailors of the Potemkin must support our brothers the workers,” fulfilling the need of solidarity amongst the lower class.