Sergei Eisenstein’s dramatic reconstruction of 1917’s October revolution is more than Soviet propaganda – it’s a ferociously exciting film, too. Rightly hailed as a classic, October‘s audaciously rapid montage editing is as violent and incendiary as its subject matter The bridge sequence in this film bears comparison with the Odessa Steps scene in Eisenstein’s more famous film Battleship Potemkin, but it’s a tough watch for horse lovers.
October (1927) will screen at the BFI on 8 April as the first half of a double-bill to accompany Phil Collins’s Marxism Today project, on display in the Gallery, which compares life in Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Collins has chosen and will introduce the two films in the double-bill: first, October and then Lunch Break, a 2008 documentary film made by American photographer and film-maker Sharon Lockhart. Lunch Break consists of a single tracking shot down a corridor in an iron works in Maine. The shot has been slowed down to a snail’s pace, making the film last for 80 minutes, becoming an anthropological study of the workers and their environment. The BFI brochure says: “Its intimate, meditative tone offers an empathetic consideration of the workforce in our contemporary post-industrial condition.”
The following day there will be a symposium led by Collins about the relevance of Marxist analysis to the 21st century, further details of which will be available shortly. If you are at the BFI over the coming weeks, do take a moment to visit the Gallery, which has housed some fascinating installations in the short time it has been open. Sadly, on 10 April, the Gallery will close due to a reduction in the BFI’s government funding, so enjoy it while you can.
On a happier note, there is one more reason to be excited about this screening of October – it’s about to kick off a feast of Russian silent cinema. As you know, the magnificent Battleship Potemkin gets its theatrical release on 29 April and there will be plenty of chances to see it at the BFI. More than that, the BFI is promising us a season of Classic Russian Cinema in May, which is bound to include some more Eisensteins – and something tells us that Pudovkin’s Storm Over Asia (1928) will get an airing too. So it’s time to brush up on your Kuleshov Effect, comrade.
October and Lunch Break screen at NFT3 in BFI Southbank on Friday 8 April. October will begin at 6pm and Lunch Break at 8.40pm. Tickets for the double-bill are £13 or £9.75 for concessions and £1.50 less for members. Tickets go on sale to BFI members on 8 March, and on general sale on 15 March. For more details, visit the BFI website.