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Soviet Masterpiece Returns: Sergei Eisenstein at Berlin Festival

Soviet masterpiece Battleship Potemkin Odessa StepsSoviet masterpiece Battleship Potemkin. Alongside Orson WellesCitizen Kane, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and Federico Fellini’s , Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 classic is one of cinema’s greatest landmarks.
  • A reconstructed version of Sergei Eisenstein’s epoch-making – and controversial – 1925 Soviet masterpiece Battleship Potemkin will be presented at next year’s Berlin Film Festival.

Reconstructed print of Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 Soviet masterpiece Battleship Potemkin to be screened at Berlinale

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

In desperate need of a silent Soviet masterpiece fix? If so, the Berlin Film Festival is the place for you.

Next year’s Berlinale will showcase what is considered one of greatest motion pictures – if not the greatest – ever made: Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 sociopolitical drama Battleship Potemkin, originally commissioned by Soviet communist leaders to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Odessa uprising, during which mutinous sailors rioted at the Ukrainian port.

Eisenstein’s recreation of the massacre of protesters on the Odessa Steps continues to be shown in film schools the world over as a classic example of montage – the art of editing used for greater dramatic effect.

A team led by film historian Enno Patalas worked on the reconstruction of Battleship Potemkin, which includes sequences cut by Soviet censors at the time of the film’s release. The print to be shown at the Berlinale is supposed to look as close as possible to Eisenstein’s original edit.

Battleship Potemkin irked both right-wing & left-wing censors

The Soviet government’s more fanatical left-wing ideologues may not have thought so, but Battleship Potemkin’s pro-proletariat message was deemed so effective that, at some time or other, the film was banned by equally fanatical right-wing rulers in numerous countries, from Brazil to South Korea.

Battleship Potemkin will be presented on Feb. 12 and 13 at the Volksbühne Theatre on Rosa Luxemburg Platz. The German Film Orchestra Babelsberg will accompany the screenings, playing a revised version of Edmund Meisel’s original score.

Written by Nina Agadzhanova (Eisenstein worked on rewrites) and with intertitles reportedly by Nikolay Aseev and Sergey Tretyakov (both were uncredited), Eisenstein’s Soviet masterpiece features Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barskiy, Grigoriy Aleksandrov, and Ivan Bobrov.

“Soviet Masterpiece Returns” endnotes

Berlin Film Festival website.

Battleship Potemkin Odessa Steps image: Goskino | Mosfilm.

“Soviet Masterpiece Returns: Sergei Eisenstein at Berlin Festival” last updated in September 2021.

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