October – Ten Days That Shook the World (1928) – Sergei M. Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov

DK Book’s The Movie Book allows me to dig a little further into the works of Sergei M. Eisenstein after my viewing of Battleship Potemkin, by offering up October in his Key Movies category.

Shot in a documentary style, the film explores the events that led up to the Bolshevik revolution in October of 1917. Made to resemble as close to fact as possible, including the use of locations that featured in the revolution (largely unchanged since that time), the film is a look at events that truly did shake the world.

Filled with iconic imagery, and moments, the film dives into the turbulent times of the early 20th century as these Russians were fighting for their country against a tyrannical provisional government that promised change after the removal of the monarchy.

Alternately filled with cheering or angry faces, shots of rifles, scythes, and important landmarks, the film plays almost as much as rousing, crowd-stirring propaganda as it does a semi-documentary.

That does not take away from its power however, even this far removed from events.

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The looks on the faces are key to everything in this silent film. The dirty, battered expressions on the rebellious Bolsheviks, while the Provisional Government strolls about through luxury, sharp uniforms, and cold regard of those under them, those that disagree.

Title cards keep us abreast of what is going on, as images become almost symbolic as the story progresses.

The ability to use actual locations lends a great reality to the story. We encounter the early easily quelled uprisings, filled with some horrific images, as well as moments set against stunning backdrops, allowing you to believe that cameras actually were on hand to capture these historic moments as they happened.

We see the defeats, the triumphs, the cost both as a nation and on the individual soul. The final half of the film are comprised of the ten days, and it’s stunning, violent, and yes, even reeks of a propaganda. It makes for a powerful experience, however, and is definitely something to watch.

The pacing of the film rockets along, and despite the fact that it’s designed to look like a documentary, the film embraces its action beats, and pushes the format forward nicely. It is easy to see why this is thought of one of my Eisenstein’s key movies. Looking at how it was made, and created, it should be near the top of any film buff’s must see films.

And while we talking about must-see films, I’d like to recommend DK Book’s fantastic The Movie Book – it’s a perfect guide to exploring key cinema, film and movies since the beginning. Pick one up today!

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