Wednesday, February 4, 2015

#528: Strike

1925, TSPDT Rank #510

Sergei Eisenstein is famous for revolutionizing film editing with his concept of using montage to increase the effect a film could have on an audience. Strike, his first film, is not as famous as his next film (Battleship Potemkin) - but it is possibly the best example of his wildly unconventional editing techniques and the explosive element that they brought to the table. It's a much less straightforward film than Battleship Potemkin - although the basic plot is simple (proletarian factory workers go on strike against their factory's oppressive capitalist administration), the film is an all-out barrage of surreal, violent imagery that has no equivalent. It could not be more different than the silent cinema of Hollywood or Western Europe during the same era. And although it's only 73 minutes, Strike is so dense with jarring juxtapositions and scenes of communal unrest that it seems to cover more ground than most films twice its length. It immediately involves the viewer with vivid depictions of the inhuman conditions in the factory and the disgustingly decadent men at the top, and doesn't release the viewer from its assault on the senses until the closing intertitle, "Beware, proletarians..." Battleship Potemkin will always remain an essential part of the film canon because of its taut, uncompromising narrative and legendary set pieces, but it still can't match the raw fury and persuasive propogranda of Strike - which deserves an equal place in film history and serves as the purest example of Eisenstein's ground-breaking cinematic style.