Sergei EisensteinUSSR72 minutes1925B&WSilent English Intertitles
"Long considered the masterwork of the silent cinema" (David Bordwell), Sergei Eisenstein's febrile account of a sailors' revolt in June 1905 offers one startling formalist effect after another. This masterpiece of montage begins in the hot, crowded galleys of the battleship as sailors, glistening with sweat (the film is famously homoerotic), complain about the maggoty meat they are fed, and eventually mutiny against their sadistic superiors. As the rumble of revolution spreads, the Tsarist army brutally retaliates, slaughtering women and children on the Odessa Steps — a sequence quoted so often, by directors as disparate as Brian De Palma, Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard and James Benning, that it has the same iconic status as Citizen Kane's "Rosebud" or Charlie Chaplin's famous walk. The most widely known and internationally acclaimed Soviet silent, Potemkin has long been admired by other directors, not all of them avant-gardists: "Which is the best picture I have ever seen? My answer always is Battleship Potemkin," said Billy Wilder.