« 1924: The Great Swashbuckler | Main | A Flower Opened »

Comments

Squish

"Those aren't worms, they're maggots. Just wash out the meat with brine." I laughed when I read that Intertitle, knowing that the doctor who spoke those words would be one of the ones to get it the worst.

I guess 1925 is one of the easier years to select a film for. In fact, I'd bet you'd be ragged on for chosing anything else but this most-influential film.

I wonder when the first dissenting voice will ring, asking you why you chose 'Film X' rather than 'Film Y'. Either way, you've been defending your selections rather well to date. In fact I look forwad to the first voices, in hopes that you're made to review two films for one year... so that we may all benefit of your lessons.

Keep it up Thom!

Thom

Y'know nothing tops an ocean voyage with maggot-infested meat for breakfast. Mmmm...

Thanks for the support, Squish. So far, the feedback I recall about specific choices has been in the "I wasn't expecting you to go with that one," type of comment (which I kind of like). The rest have been suggestions and those have really beefed up my Netflix queue (if only they'd let you reserve more than 500 at a time). One suggestion already convinced me to write about a film too. I'm sure somebody (who thinks my blog title is a proclamation) will take me to task one these days :) Probably when I choose to write about Before the Rain instead of Pulp Fiction or something.

goatdog

My dear Mae Tinee at the Chicago Tribune discusses the situation in Chicago. Sorry about the huge comment.

First she says the Playhouse theater, which was supposed to show this film as its opening-night feature, had to delay its opening by over a week because the local censor board "hung onto [it] for a week, and thus did not allow time for orchestra scoring and other necessary arrangements" (Sep. 3, 1927, p. 9).

Then she complains about the censors' hack-work: "'Potemkin,' a Russian production, chosen as the opening wedge [of the 'little cinema movement,' a move away from elaborate stage productions and jazz orchestras accompanying the film]--in which please find Emil Jannings if you can--is a tragic, powerful and terrible film that has been considerably gouged by the shears of the censors. At least I am sure that is the only explanation why something so brilliantly directed in the main, should be so patchy in places.... The ending is unsatisfactory. You feel there more strongly than ever the film has been hacked by ruthless, ignorant hands. I would like to see 'Potemkin' uncensored. And if Emil Jannings is in it, as advertised, I would most certainly like to see him, too." ("Little Cinema Movement Gets Under Way Here: Powerful Picture Shows Censor's Mangling," Sep. 12, 1927, p. 31.)

But then the next day she prints a retraction: "I am asked by the Playhouse press representative to state that the Chicago censors made no cuts at all in 'Potemkin.' That Chicago is seeing the complete film. The director then is not as great as I had thought him" ("Closeups," Sep. 13, 1927, p. 31). [But we already know from your research, Thom, that the film was probably already cut when it got to Chicago.]

On the 15th, a print ad says the film is "COMPLETE--UNCUT BY THE CENSORS" (p. 28). On the 18th another ad thanks the citizens of Chicago for their support of the "little cinema movement" and apologizes "to the hundreds of people we have had to turn away from our doors" (p. G4). On the 21st an ad says the film will run until the 24th, when a movie about Freud starts. On Oct. 23, a movie fan writes to clear up the censorship issue, telling Miss Tinee that the New York censors had cut the film.

Thom

Wow, excellent work Mike. No need to apologize—more content is good. Thank you. Maybe Tinee was befuddled by Eisenstein's montage sequences and thought an overzealous censor was hard at work, lol. I love it. We know there were various active state censor boards, each with its own standards, so despite that fan's letter on the 23rd there is a possibility that a different uncut print was sent to Chicago. Thanks again for adding so much info on the film's initial American run.

goatdog

You may be on to something about Tinee being befuddled--she keeps talking about Emil Jannings, who, as far as I can tell, was never advertised as being in the film. The ad you provide has his name, but just as a celebrity endorsement. None of the Chicago ads said his name at all, so I don't know where she got that.

I know that Chicago was the center of Midwest distribution, so other towns in the Midwest usually got prints that Chicago censors had hacked up, but I don't know enough about national distribution channels to know where Chicago got their prints. I need to look into that.

Squish

Canada's version of Netflix queues up 800 films then "parks" all subsequent selections. Of course you can always shift the order, so unparking is no problem. To quote the Simpsons "Ha Ha"

Thom

When Lenin said, "Cinema is for us the most important of all arts," I wonder if this film is exactly what he had in mind...

Pacze Moj

And to think that Eisenstein intended the Potemkin event as only a part of a larger film project. As I bemoaned Riefenstahl's destroyed career in the comments of your Triumph of the Will post, I'll bemoan the non-existence of this larger Eisenstein project here!

The information about Potemkin screenings in America is interesting. Funny how actors like Jannings and Fairbanks praise the film, even though, as you mention, the film doesn't rely on its actors past their physical appearance. It's not an "actor's film" by any stretch!

I wrote a short paper on Eisenstein's use of time in Potemkin a few years ago. Although I focused on his speeding up and slowing down of events when put to film (the massacre sequence, for example, is horrifically longer than it would have been in reality), I didn't think to include what you've pointed out: Eisenstein's selective use of the historical time-line, to turn defeat into victory.

PS: There's also some kind of issue about the Soviet flag in the film. I think the original print had it tinted red.

Thom

The speed of events in the film isn't something I'd considered before, Pacze Moj. Your mention of it does strike a chord in my memory of the Odessa steps montage though. It could be argued that a large part of the horror of the sequence is supported by the unnatural duration of events unfolding on the screen. I also remember reading about the red flag too, but the public domain print I viewed didn't include that feature. Thank you for the thougthful and informed feedback.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Written by

Blog powered by Typepad