“They’ve pushed us into a corner; we must strike.”
Factory workers in pre-revolutionary Russia plan and execute a collective strike, with lethal consequences.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Labor Movements
- Russian Films
- Sergei Eisenstein Films
- Silent Films
Before making his best-known feature — Battleship Potemkin (1925) — 27-year-old Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein debuted with this powerfully crafted tale following similar narrative and structural lines. Through six titled sequences, we learn about a collective of workers who have banded together to protest against unfair conditions in their factory, juxtaposed with imagery of the “fat cat” bourgeoisie who sit back leisurely to drink and smoke while their fellow Russians are barely scraping by. We are introduced to the factory and its labor leaders (“At the factory all is quiet”); see a worker taking his life after being falsely accused of theft (“Reason to strike”); view the immediate after-effects of the strike — including parents having joyful time to spend with their young children (“The factory dies down”); witness the lingering negative impacts of no income or food (“The strike draws out”); see arson and looting carried out (“Provocation and debacle”); and, finally, watch the proletariat being decimated by the police (“Extermination”). This all rings eerily close to home, given recent uprisings and subsequent looting and arson stemming from societal unrest and dissent; viewers should be forewarned that Eisenstein pulls no punches in his depiction of class warfare.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Many powerfully filmed and edited sequences
- Eduard Tisse’s cinematography
Yes, as a fine debut film by a master director. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.