Strike (Stachka)

Strike

Remember, Proletarians!

Strike, by Sergei Eisenstein, is a Russian film through and through. Detailing the strike of a population of factory workers and what is done to the strikers as a result, the film is rather relentless in its depiction of the feud between the strikers and the shareholders. Eisenstein would go on to direct Battleship Potemkin, and many of the unique and breakthrough techniques utilized in the later film can be seen here in his feature debut.

The film is divided into six parts, each showing a bit of the plight of the factory workers on strike, as well as the well-off shareholders and their reactions to the puny and insignificant collection of workers who dare to rise up and speak for themselves. The film has a very innovative storytelling method, mostly through the use of non-descriptive title cards, but also the method of cross-cutting and transitioning between shots and scenes. It is truly in the way Eisenstein edits his films that his prowess for the craft of storytelling is revealed.

The film is really as basic as that; Eisenstein’s skill as a storyteller is evident from the techniques he uses, and the story is relatively straightforward. Special mention should be made of the end sequence montage, which features a cross-cutting of the ultimately brutal suppression of the strike with the slaughtering of cows. It is incredibly graphic, and will rightfully shake your foundations. It is a truly harrowing sequence, and one that is the direct precedent for the famous Odessa Steps sequence in Potemkin. The film itself is just another Eisenstein feature, but because it is exactly that, it is above most other Russian films of its time. Give this a look either before or after Battleship Potemkin, just to see the similarities, if anything. It’s a nice little lesson from the godfather of Russian cinema.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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