Octyabr (1927) Director: Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov
In English the film is called “October: Ten Days That Shook the World”. The addition of the ‘ten days that shook the world’ was only part of the release in English for the popular John Reed book of the same name. He was an American Soviet sympathizer who wrote a first-hand account of the October Bolshevik revolution. The film was commissioned by the Soviet government to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution.
Octyabr is another masterful film from Sergei Eisenstein, widely credited as the inventor of the ‘Soviet’ montage style of dramatic and propaganda film-editing. The film was not as large an international success as The Battleship Potemkin, and for good reason, though it is still a wonderfully innovative movie.
The film 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 that 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 issuing a new government.