"Potemkin” Preaches Overthrow of Authority—Acting and Production Provide Continual Thrill.
SIR ROBERT DONALDOctober11926
Bolshie Film Moves Germans
REVIEW of REVIEWS\
Potemkin” Preaches Overthrow of Authority—Acting and Production Provide Continual Thrill.
SIR ROBERT DONALD.
BAFFLED in the matter of sending paid agents to preach the gospel of Bolshevism in other nations where the Red Terror does not hold sway, the Russian Soviets have seized upon the motion picture as an insidious institution for spreading their particular type of propaganda. Their latest move in this direction is a wonderfully realistic picture named “Potemkin,” which is now being •shown all over Germany, and which, through its sheer art, managed to pass the censor in that country.
The Daily Mail (London), presents this description of the extraordinary film -from the pen of Sir Robert Donald, G.B.E.,LL.D.:—
The film critics describe the picture as a masterpiece. Politicians and citizens who believe in the reign of law and order are horrified at such a glorification of the revolutionary spirit and are fearful of the •effects.
“Potemkin” is intended to portray the mutiny on the battleship of that name in 1905, just before the Russo-Japanese War. It is explained that the film has no political significance or ulterior motives; it is simply an authentic presentation of an historical incident, illustrating man’s hatred of tyranny and human yearning lor freedom.
We see sailors aboard the Potemkin being bullied by their officers. Mutiny breaks out. The men refuse to eat soup made from putrid meat. (You are given a realistic touch of maggots crawling over the meat.) A firing party refuse to fire on the mutineers. The officers are thrown overboard. Wakulintschuk, the sailor who led the mutiny, is killed and his body is taken to Odessa Harbor.
The people of the town flock by hundreds to pay their respects to the victim who has become a symbol of the revolt. “Killed for a dish of soup” is the label pinned to his body. The rebels take possession of the town, hundreds of craft of all kinds convey food to the sailors on the Potemkin—live geese, pigs, chickens, sheep,'eggs, fruit, and meat— enough to feed a whole fleet.
Meanwhile, the officers have swum aboard and the Cossacks are called"out to suppress the demonstrators. The Black Sea fleet steams out in battle formation to attack the Potemkin, which flies such signals as “All for Each and Each for All.” “Comrades come and join us,” which, in the picture, the comrades do. You see the battleships joining up as if the revolution had succeeded. In the shifting mist of early morning on the Black Sea the ships sent to defend Czarist tyranny join the rebels as if the dawning of a new era was breaking.
The picture, of course, if i complete travesty of history. The Potemkin took refuge in the harbor of Constanza and the Rumanian government handed the rebels over to the Russian authorities.
The impressive thing about the picture is its grim realism. There is no acting; no professional takes part in the production. It exudes the atmosphere of revolution. The conspicuous types are fanatics.
Experts go into esetasies over the photography. There are no indoor scenes except on the lower deck and in the engine room of the Potemkin. It is out-of-doors work, remarkable for the variation of light and the masses of people brought before the camera.
The picture is accompanied with appropriate music and is one continual thrill. Men and women grip their seats in nervous strain. Tears spring to their eyes; they cheer when the Potemkin officers are thrown overboard and sigh with sympathy as they witness the homage paid to the hero. The carnage which follows the march of the Cossacks makes them shudder with horror.
The whole production is presented scientifically to appeal to the emotions and to stir passions. It is the most telling example of propaganda by film which has been produced. It is the forerunner of others from the same source to be produced with the same object. British authorities throughout the Empire, and particularly in the Colonies and in India, should be warned against this new method of Soviet propaganda.
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