Octyabr (1927) Review

Octyabr (1927) Director: Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov


The influence of propaganda films has vexed me to no end, and few were able to make propaganda films like the Soviets! Based on the novel of the same name by John Reed (an American Soviet sympathizer), Sergei Eisenstein was commissioned by the Soviet government to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in English. Like his other films, Octyabr is a masterful experiment in montage from Sergei Eisenstein. This film was not as large an international success as The Battleship Potemkin, and for good reason, though it is still a wonderfully innovative movie.

Octyabr is a highly dramatized and, at times, glamorous portrayal of the October communist revolution that took over Russia in 1917. It moves through the February revolution in 1917 which established a provisional government in Russia, only to find it insufficient as people still remained hungry in the streets. Lenin arrives amidst roaring cheers from the crowds. The provisional government decides to take action against the Bolsheviks which spawns a vote to revolt by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. They ’empower’ the workers with weapons and the film concludes with a final dramatic infiltration of the Winter Palace and take control, offering peace and reconciliation, and they announce a new government.

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