Mutiny Ahoy!

The 70-year history of the USSR is slowly disappearing, yet the convulsive Russian Revolution remains as vivid as ever. So raise a cheer, comrades, for the brilliant silent-film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein, whose visceral montages of Tsarist oppression and mass rebellion are forever etched in our minds’ eye. The Soviet filmmaker’s 1925 masterwork, Battleship Potemkin, depicts a pre-revolution turning point and its aftermath — the mutiny of a crew against its despotic officers in 1905, and the galvanized citizens of Odessa rallying to their side — but many nevertheless associate the film’s iconic sequences with the upheaval of 1917. This restored yet rarely screened print boils with true-believer outrage (or propagandistic fervor, if you prefer), never more so than during the once-famous sequence of a runaway baby carriage tumbling down a set of steps. Dozens of previously cut scenes have been restored, as has the score by Edmund Meisel. History and political ideology aside, Battleship Potemkin is a still-stunning demonstration of the fundamental associative principles of editing. In plain English, Eisenstein’s innovations have become so ingrained in our image-grammar that even the people who make beer commercials have mastered them.
March 18-20, 2, 4, 5:45, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m., 2011

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