Soviet Influence Volume Two: Battleship Potemkin (1925), Drifters (1929) DVD9 and Blu-Ray
On the 10th of November 1929, the London Film Society opened its fifth season with a programme which included the long-delayed British premiere of Battleship Potemkin. Also on the bill was the first film from director John Grierson, Drifters, which was heavily influenced by Potemkin. This moment is often seen as the start of the Documentary Film Movement in Britain. Now the BFI have packaged the two films together on blu-ray and DVD along with three other documentaries which show Potemkin's influence.

Battleship Potemkin must be one of the most influential films ever - and one of the most analysed. Some classic films are classics because they pushed the art of cinema forward and others are classics because they are just very good. Potemkin falls into both categories. Director Sergei Eisenstein put his theories about film montage into practice to dramatise the 1905 mutiny and praise the spirit of the masses. In a series of set pieces, including the Odessa Steps Massacre, he exploited the technique to the full and demonstrated its worth.

This, and the series of lectures Eisenstein gave in the weeks after the British screening, had a huge effect on the intellectuals and industry folk who were members of the Film Society. John Grierson, however, had a head start on them since he had helped prepared the film for its earlier American screening. So Drifters used many of Eisenstein's techniques to tell of a fishing community's ordinary working lives. Naturally, this makes for a less dramatic tale than Potemkin but the results aren't too shabby. Viewed today it forms a valuable record of a way of life that's virtually gone.

The other films on the disc are Grierson's Granton Trawler (1934) and Harry Watt's North Sea (1938) both of which concern the fishing industry and Len Lye's psychedelic animation Trade Tattoo (1937) which reuses some of Drifter's footage. All follow the theme of the heroic, and hunky, working man battling against the rigours of his day.

-- All films presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
-- Battleship Potemkin presented in a new restoration by Film Museum Berlin and partners, accompanied by the 1926 Edward Meisel score.
-- Drifters presented in a new HD transfer, tinted and toned as originally intended, with a score by innovative composer/performer Jason Singh.
-- Granton Trawler (John Grierson, 1934, 11 mins): Grierson's follow up to Drifters, one of the GPO Film Unit's first experiments with sound.
-- Trade Tattoo (Len Lye, 1937, 6 mins): celebratory animation made from off-cuts of EMB and GPO films, including Drifters and Night Mail.
-- North Sea (Harry Watt, 1938, 32 mins): dramatic reconstruction of sea farers' battle with the elements, produced by the GPO Film Unit.

DVD9 | PAL 4:3 | 110 minutes | 7.47 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Russian intertitles and English intertitles
Subtitles: English

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 110 minutes | 42.1 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Russian intertitles and English intertitles
Subtitles: English

Related posts:

  1. Bronenosets Potyomkin / Battleship Potemkin / Броненосец Потемкин (1925) DVD9 + DVD5
  2. Une fille et des fusils / To Be a Crook / A Woman is a Weapon / The Decadent Influence (1965) Blu-Ray
  3. Variete / Jealousy / Variety (1925) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Eureka – Masters of Cinema
  4. The Informer (1929) DVD9 and Blu-Ray
  5. Man with a Movie Camera and Other Works by Dziga Vertov (1929) 2 x DVD9 and 2 x Blu-Ray Limited Edition