October (Oktyabr)

October

To the citizens of Russia!

Even the Russians had their propaganda films as well. Since I had one last Eisenstein film to go on the list, I figured I’d get it out of the way. October: Ten Days that Shook the World is a recreation of the famous (or infamous) 1917 October Revolution that was but a slice of the Bolshevik pie that helped create the Soviet Union of the era. Commissioned by the men up high for the tenth anniversary of the revolution, this was to be the film achievement of the new Russian order. Little did they know what they would be getting as an end product.

Everything that a Sergei Eisenstien film makes can be found here, and in abundance; cross-cutting, montage sequences, a rapid editing style, and a flair for dramatic and empowering storytelling. Eisenstein uses his natural skill with images to boldly portray the revolution in much of a heroic light. Most of the intertitles seem to be pieces of propaganda in their own right, meant to perpetuate the beliefs of a just and righteous revolt. The film itself is a hodgepodge, to say the least; chaos and disorder run rampant through most of the film, and what little narrative there is to be had is scarce and distant. Still, the film packs quite a punch, as most propaganda films tend to do.

I like one particular quote from the book about October, and I’ll roughly repeat it here: “October is some kind of a masterpiece; figuring out what kind is the real challenge.” This is indeed a hard film to figure out, if you intend to go beyond the initial layer of “it’s a film about a revolution”. It’s tricky, which makes it even trickier to write about. I really can’t get across how oblique the film really is, so to that I’ll just say, you’ll have to see it for yourself. It is certainly a powerful experience, and one you likely won’t soon forget, even if you can’t really put into words what you just saw. That’s Eisenstein for you.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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