October: Ten Days That Shook the World  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

October: Ten Days That Shook the World is a 1928 Soviet silent film film by Grigori Aleksandrov and Sergei Eisenstein. Produced in 1927 by a group of soviet filmmakers led by Sergei Eisenstein, for the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, this film dramatizes the events of October, 1917 with the greatest possible realism.

October was one of two films commissioned by the Soviet government to honour the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution (the other was Vsevolod Pudovkin's The End of St. Petersburg). Eisenstein was chosen to head the project due to the international success he had achieved with The Battleship Potemkin in 1925 . The title is taken from John Reed's book on the Revolution, Ten Days That Shook The World.

Style

Eisenstein used the film to further develop his theories of film structure, using a concept he described as "intellectual montage", the editing together of shots of apparently unconnected objects in order to create and encourage intellectual comparisons between them. One of the film's most celebrated examples of this technique is a baroque image of Jesus that is compared, through a series of shots, to Hindu deities, the Buddha, Aztec gods, and finally a primitive idol in order to suggest the sameness of all religions; the idol is then compared with military regalia to suggest the linking of patriotism and religious fervour by the state. In another sequence Alexander Kerensky, head of the pre-revolutionary Provisional Government, is compared to a preening mechanical peacock.

Responses

The film was not as successful or influential as Potemkin. Eisenstein's montage experiments met with official disapproval; the authorities complained that October was unintelligible to the masses, and Eisenstein was attacked—for neither the first time nor the last—for excessive "formalism". He was also required to re-edit the work to expurgate references to Trotsky, who had recently been purged by Stalin.

In spite of the film's lack of popular acceptance, film historians consider it to be an immensely rich experience—a sweeping historical epic of vast scale, and a powerful testament to Eisenstein's genius and artistry.

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