Film Study Essay

Submitted By rafaioana
Words: 1089
Pages: 5

INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL FILM
SEMESTER I
2009-2010

BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN vs. PLEASANTVILLE

Number of words: 1048

Battleship Potemkin is a 1925 silent film, whereas Pleasantville is a 1990’s movie

based on a story that is set in the 1950’s .

Many different techniques have been used in order to create special effects

outlining the main ideas of both movies. The purpose of this essay is to compare and

contrast the use of colours, sounds and the movements of the cameras that suggest the

political theme in both films.

Firstly, I am going to be discussing the different colours used in both movies. Its

use is fundamental in putting across the basic message of the films: In Pleasantville it

suggests that change is an indispensable part of life, whereas in Battleship Potemkin the

use of only black and white colours emphasizes the fact that it is an old movie. It is

entirely a black and white production that shocked for its use of violence, but also a silent

one that “reaches the emotions on a visual level”(Mayer, 1990). It explains the story of

the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin that revolted against their executives

representing the Tsarist system. This sequence suggests the desire for freedom and

autonomy of the Russian empire. In Pleasantville, the director, uses colours to show the

differences between two worlds. Black and white images represent a world of morality

where people must respect the law. For example, the idea of sex is meaningless to them.

Colours are used to express a world of opportunities: an exciting place where rules are

broken and new things are discovered, like the pleasure of reading. Colours also represent

the modern society, while black and white are related to the traditional society, ruled by

strict conventions.

Once the two siblings (Bud and Mary) appear, the pleasant world, presented in a

TV sitcom becomes to change. They bring new conceptions into the world converting the

black and white background and people into enriched ones, contrast that defines aspects

of human conditions. In the clip that shows the court case, the people in black and white

have power whereas those that are portrayed in colour are segregated in the upper part of

the room. This can be seen as discrimination and racism, a common problem in the world

today, too. The court case was caused as a consequence to the fact that the pleasant world

started to change and rules began to be broken. . More and more people started to do

something they desired and this desire went beyond the limits of society. By discovering

the joy of life or the feeling of a disappointment they turned coloured. Those that didn’t

accept any change in their lives, like the mayor, saw this as an immoral and unusual fact.

Different colours that are used have different meanings. For example, in this clip of the

court case Bud wears a blue T-shirt, which could be associated with a reasonable and

confident person, qualities that help him say what he thinks in front of some of the

citizens of Pleasantville. This relates to the political theme of the movie by presenting all

the important people in the town that take decisions gathered altogether.

Secondly, the use of camera and the editing play important roles in making movies. In

Battleship Potemkin, the director expresses his own theory, known in film language as

“montage”. The so-called “the Soviet montage” could be clearly seen in the most famous

scene in the film, known as Odessa steps. It shows the mass execution of the citizens of

Odessa by the Tsar’s representatives, as an episode of the Russian Revolution. This clip

has a dramatic effect on viewers; its purpose is to portray Russians as a powerful and

influential nation, after a catastrophic loss in the First…