First Viewing Notes
The film opens with very minimalistic credits since the film dates before the use of elaborate credits. They consist of simple white letters over a dark gray background, which reflect the bleak lives of the men on the ship. Loud, militaristic noises play in the background, foreshadowing the battle scene later in the film/
Two sailors discuss the Russian Revolution
A commanding officer mistreats a sleeping sailor for no reason, causing Vakulinchuk to rally the men in revolt.
The men receive rotting meat, and say that is not suitable to eat.
The ship doctor declares that the meat is safe to eat.
S1- This cruelty is not an unusual treatment on the ship.
The men refuse to eat the meat. Because they disobeyed the officers, they are brought on to the deck to be shot.
The sailors in the firing squad don’t shoot the men and the uprising begins. The sailors take control of the ship.
Vakulinchuk is killed during the mutiny. The sailors honor him on the shores of Odessa.
S2- The people of Odessa sympathize with the soldiers.
Soldiers in Odessa march like machines, firing at unarmed civilians.
S3- This regime has been in power for a while.
The sailors of the Potemkin take the ship to face the fleet of the Tsar. Surprisingly the Tsar ship doesn’t open fire.
The ship passes through the fleet, waving a red flag.
Grigory Vakulinchuk- A sailor on the Battleship Potemkin who becomes a leader and hero among his fellow sailors after starting a revolution.
Commander Golikov- The harsh captain of the Potemkin.
Chief Officer Giliarovsky- A cruel officer who feeds the men spoiled meat, causing them to revolt.
Doctor Smirnov- The doctor of the ship who inspects the meat and declares it fine.
1. Valkulinchuk rallies the men
2. The men are given rotten meat
3. The uprising begins- In this scene, Commander Golikov orders the men who refused to eat the meat to be shot by a firing squad. Vakulinchuck asks the firing squad to think about who they are really shooting, and the sailors band together in revolt.
4. Valkulinchuk is killed
5. The Odessa steps- This montage is the most famous scene in the film. The Cossack soldiers descend down the stairs, killing anyone in their path, like machines.
6. The Tsar does not open fire
Key Formal Elements
E1- Montage- The Odessa steps scene is one of the best and most famous examples of montage. The scene beautifully constructs shots together to evoke different emotions from the audience. Eisenstien juxtaposes shots together to create new meanings, that would have been different if the images had been shown by themselves.
E2- Sound Effects- The film was made before the talking picture, so all of the sound in the film is non-diegetic. The dramatic and militaristic music adds to the suspenseful and chaotic tone of the film, but Eisenstein makes certain sounds more exaggerated, such as when the priest hits his cross against his hand. It makes a loud chime sound, which wouldn’t happen in real life, but the effect adds drama to the moment.
E3- Color- The film is shown entirely in black and white, with one notable