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New Edition of Battleship Potemkin Out on DVD

Battleship
A new DVD edition of Sergei Eisenstein’s seminal 1925 film Battleship Potemkin was released
yesterday by Kino International, which restores some previously removed or
truncated scenes, reinstates the title cards according the director’s original
intent, and adds the Duetsches Filmorchestra’s rendition of Edmund Meisel’s
score. The two-disc box set also
includes a documentary on Potemkin’s production and restoration.

Potemkin,
originally conceived as one in a series of revolutionary films, has a five-act
structure that recounts the story of a 1905 failed mutiny by a group of Russian
sailors. Its most famous sequence, The
Odessa Steps Massacre
, has been referenced (The
Untouchables
, et al.) and parodied (Brazil,
et al.) so many times that it’s become a bit of a cliche. But that classic juxtaposition of images –
the innocent, screaming baby and the cold-blooded, violent soldiers – provokes
an emotional response even eight decades after its creation.

The film is also one of our go-to examples of how great art
springs from oppression: it was commissioned as a propaganda film by Soviet
leaders and re-cut numerous times to please various censors. But it is also an early and important
demonstration of the particular power of film as art, in its groundbreaking use of editing and
montage
.

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