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The Most Convincing Propogandist

Essay by   •  February 24, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,530 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,090 Views

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At the turn of the 20th century, when film production was beginning to become more accessible to people around the world, an artistic revolution was in the making. Filmmakers everywhere had begun experimenting with their camera angles, focus points, films lengths and so forth. However, during an era in which political unrest was prevalent throughout many different areas of the world, a filmmaker's artistic freedom and occasionally abilities were haltered. Many Russian films that were created during this period undoubtedly epitomize the artistic limitation of filmmakers. A restraint was implemented on the filmmakers in order to inspire them to create propagandist films with hope of igniting a means of positive political activism. Propaganda reflecting Russia's political state during the early 20th century is extremely prevalent within the films of Sergei Eisenstein. More specifically, Eisenstein's films, Battleship Potemkin and October ideally exemplify the use of propaganda through certain manipulations to the content and form of the films, in relation to the real-life historical facts to which they are based on. Battleship Potemkin portrays to its viewers a superlative example of a propaganda film. Through its modifications of historical facts, like that in the Odessa staircase sequence as well as the simple yet volatile depictions of Tsarist soldiers, viewers of the film during the era of its release found much that they could relate too and unite towards. Similarly, the film, October, presented a bias political viewpoint in which the majority of viewers at the time associated themselves with. The tearing down of the statue during the opening scene of the film, as well as many other implied symbolic episodes in the film simply add to the propagandist techniques that Eisenstein successfully presented. Lastly, within both the films, Battleship Potemkin and October, Eisenstein incorporated new and exciting filmmaking techniques with the intention of pursuing suspense throughout the audience. Most famous for the creation of the montage, Eisenstein used this technique to lengthen certain scenes and create extended drama with the intention of impacting the viewers even more than ever before.

The year was 1925 when filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein screened his film, Battleship Potemkin for the first time. Although the reactions of the audience at the time were nothing unordinary, little did they know that this film was to one day be referred to as "the most perfect and concise example of film structure in the history of cinema." (Cook 127) With it's intended propagandist outcomes, the film attempted to portray the February Revolution of 1917 as a victorious revolt rather than a failed one. Eisenstein's careful planning and directing resulted in an extremely thought-provoking propagandist masterpiece that strongly enforced the views of the Ð''common people' against those of the Tsarist regime. The most famous scenes of the film are that which take place in Odessa, "where a short sequence of forty-two shots was to be made representing the mutiny of the tsarist battleship Potemkin and its bloody aftermath." (Cook 127) More specifically, the Odessa staircase scene managed to leave the greatest impact on its viewers, due to its outright brutality and implied symbolism. Within this scene, a mother and baby are depicted as helpless against the Tsarist soldiers. The mother "is killed, separated from her child as the pram bounces down the steps, carrying the baby to its death. The imagery here is calculated to cause a sense of emotional outrage in the audience at the callous brutality of the tsarist army." (Taylor 52) This in itself is a clear propagandist technique that Eisenstein carefully implemented in his film to generate hateful reactions towards the Tsar and his regime. In reality, the Odessa step sequence was carried through during the night and was not a mindless killing spree as portrayed in the film, however, Eisenstein had to convince his audience in every way possible that the tsarist regime was evil and uncaring. Comparatively to Battleship Potemkin, Eisenstein's later film, October, also used propagandist techniques to persuade an audience to abide by the beliefs of the political party in power at the time.

October was released in 1927 "to present the Bolshevik view of the elemental nature of the October Revolution, culminating in the storming of the Winter Palace." (Taylor 64) The October Revolution in Russia was the final step towards a Bolshevik-led country. Constantly throughout the film, the viewers are led to believe that the political party in power of Russia during that period had all the correct ideologies and beliefs in which entirely outweighed and defeated the ideologies of the older Tsarist leadership. Propaganda in this film may be seen from the very beginning in its opening succession. "October begins with a sequence showing the toppling of the statue if Tsar Alexander III, the symbol of the worst aspects of autocracy." (Taylor 64) This scene clearly depicts the Tsar to be extremely unappreciated and disliked. The tearing down of the statue of Alexander III is symbolic in showing the viewers that a much larger and stronger political force had been implemented. Another scene in the film that can be easily justified as propaganda is that in which includes Eisenstein's written caveat. Through stating that the revolution is Ð''for all,' the meaning implied is that "the revolution is greeted by the bourgeoisie and blessed by the church." (Taylor 65) However, in reality this was evidently untrue and was simply a means for Eisenstein to propagate false information to the masses. The bourgeoisie and the upper class were in fact the ones who were strongly against the Bolshevik party takeover due to its communist implications. For Eisenstein, propagandist filmmaking was of utmost importance because it allowed him to maintain positive ties with the government, as well as screen his films internationally. Seeing as how much of

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