8. Nov, 2017



100 years ago , the Russian Revolution took place.. To commemorate the event, BBC2 showed "October-10 days that Shook the World." a film by Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948).

It was made in 1928, in black and white and was silent, is pure propaganda (advertising by another name), yet I maintain it to have been a masterpiece of film.

Compared to Spielberg, Jackson and the other boys in the band, Eisenstein had very limited technical resources. His genius lay in making the most of what he had got and of satisfying the artistic tastes of Stalin and the Soviet Politburo.

It tells the story chronologically of the 10 days that saw power shift from Kerensky’s Provisional Government to the Boshviks of Lenin and Trotsky. What has always fascinated me is HOW Eisenstein gets the story across.

As I explained in other Blogs here on this website, my main interest is in joiner photography. This is a style that runs a direct line from Picasso and Braque to David Hockney that endeavours to show the passing of time and place on a two-dimensional surface. It also attempts to imitate the way we actually see things. Do we see a situation like a two dimensional object or as a series of impressions that the brain puts together into a memory? If so then differences in witness statements are easily explained.

Eisenstein did a similar thing but using a series of 3 second movie shots to build up an incredible 100 minute montage of recreated events during those 10 days in Petrograd.

As a historian who has experienced a fair amount of primary and secondary source material from the time, there is little doubt that Eisenstein employed more than a little artistic license, but with J.Stalin Esq., breathing down his neck who can blame him?

It is heavily biased but it captures the exciting, confusing, deadly atmosphere of the time.

It is presently on BBC iPlayer. Do yourself a favour and watch it