Kehr Capsule of the Week: October (1927)

Sergei Eisenstein was given a free hand and a mammoth budget to re-create the October Revolution for its tenth anniversary (1927), but the results displeased the authorities—for reasons both political (Trotsky, suddenly banished from the Soviet Union, had to be hurriedly eliminated from the final cut) and aesthetic (Eisenstein’s extreme formalism, here at its most abstract and theoretical). Much of the montage in October plays better in analytical retrospect than it does on the screen, but much of the film is genuinely stirring—when he wasn’t theorizing, the man really could cut film.

Along with Eisenstein’s October, V.I. Pudovkin‘s 1927 film was commissioned by the Soviet government for the tenth anniversary of the 1917 revolution. October has since eclipsed The End of St. Petersburg as thoroughly as Eisenstein’s associative montage has eclipsed Pudovkin’s rather more literal editing technique, epitomized here by the famous sequence intercutting World War I battle footage with shots of porcine capitalists celebrating the rise in the munitions market. Mainly of academic interest.

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