October (1927, Sergei Eisenstein)

Often I just don’t know what is happening. A title card says “the commisars”, now people are marching with guns, groups are handing scraps of paper to a man who’s collecting them on his bayonet, then a title says “To the telephone office!” What did all those things mean?

It was all very important at the time, a film portrayal of recent political upset and revolution, but with my lack of background in Russian history, most of the movie seems a blur of dates and places and crowds, the significance of most scenes lost, and very few of the alarmingly great compositions of other Eisenstein films. There’s some of the dramatic editing of course – when the crowd is fired upon it seems like single-frame edits, unreal. I don’t think Trotsky comes off well in the end. At least I managed to get used to the unnecessary sound effects all over the DVD.