The Battleship Potemkin on DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by ShaunS, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. ShaunS

    ShaunS Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 16, 2002
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    I'm considering a blind purchase of The Battleship Potemkin and I was curious as to the quality of the dvds out there in R1. Are any SEs in the works?

    My reason for this is I just watched the silent film Sunrise the other day. It has peaked my interest in picking up some other silent films. Any recomendations?

  2. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

    Jun 19, 1999
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    Can't help you on the current releases, but I believe Criterion will be releasing this in 2004.

    Not sure if it'll be available seperately, or part of an Eisenstein boxset.
  3. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Jan 6, 1999
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    If you want to pick up some great silent masterpieces, it is hard to go
    wrong with Fritz Lang's Metropolis (get the Kino version, NOT the Madacy version.)

    A few others that I really like are
    Nosferatu and The Cabinent of Dr Caligari.

    If you are looking for more "human drama,"
    (like "Sunrise") and less inclinded towards
    the sci-fi or horror ones I just mentioned,
    you might want to get "Sadie Thompson" with
    Gloria Swanson. Or "Male & Female" with her as well,
    and directed by DeMille.

    And then, of course, you have the comic
    brilliance that is Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton!
    (Keaton's "The General" is fantastic!)

    Sunrise is such a brilliant film that
    it is hard for me to think of any other "human drama"
    films that seem as "accessable" to modern audiences:

    "Intollerance" by DW Griffith seems heavy handed to me,
    and "Birth of a Nation" for all its brillance is not
    a film one can "casually enjoy" unless you like films
    where the Klu Klux Clan are made to look like saviors.

    There are some other greats out there, but I these are the
    ones I have had the most exposure to that are readily available on DVD.


  4. Derek_McL

    Derek_McL Second Unit

    Apr 5, 2003
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    If you're set on Potemkin I think I would wait for the Criterion. Hopefully that version will be restored with material from Russia as the present R2 isn't in the best of shape according to DVD Times. The Region 1 I would think probably uses similar material. There is a comparison at DVD Beaver which basically says both versions R1 and 2 are about the same apart from some contrast boosting in the Eureka (Region 2).

    Personally I've always found Battleship Potemkin heavy going : yes there are some great moments in it particularly the Odessa steps sequence but if your only exposure to silents is Sunrise it might be a risky blind purchase.

    I prefer Eisenstein's October 1917 or Ten Days That Shook the World which has a more epic feel to it rather than concentrating just on one naval mutiny. These though aren't easy films to get into.

    In region 2 there is a very good documentary with a halting Russian commentary from 1928 : The Fall of the Romanoff Dynasty which reveals the Soviet propaganda version of Russia's history from the dawn of World War One to the fall of the Provisional government. Very interesting in its use of authentic footage and the added commentary nicely puts it all into historical context.

    As for other silent films there are so many good ones but lets concentrate on human drama. D.W. Griffith's work is the obvious place to start and while his monumental epics like Birth of a Nation and Intolerance aren't to everyone's taste every self respecting film fan should see them at least once. If they are keepers I suppose depends on whether you like epic films or not. If you do there is no excuse.

    If you're looking for something a bit more romantic or perhaps less intimidating than his two masterpieces Broken Blossoms is an excellent introduction to Griffith. This is a genuinely moving film available in an excellent edition from Kino with some good supplements. Another one very under-rated by critics is Orphans of the Storm with the Gish sisters caught up in the French Revolution. Another excellent disc from Kino with good supplements for a silent release only marred by a minor coding glitch.

    I haven't seen any of the Gloria Swanson silents but those might be worth exploring too. I'm particularly interested in the ones directed by Cecil B. DeMille due to being very impressed by his epic Joan the Woman available from Image Entertainment in an almost pristine transfer considering the movie was made in 1916.

    I'm not such a great fan of the German horror and sci-fi movies. Metropolis while available in a great transfer is one of those movies you either like or you don't as is Caligari. Nosferatu I feel is better though Hollywood horrors seem to agree with me more. One German silent I really like though is F.W. Murnau's (the director of Sunrise) Faust.

    As Mark says don't forget the silent comedians.If you are new to them I would suggest the Chaplin shorts from Essanay and Mutual would be a good place to start : they are less encumbered by the sentiment of his later films. There is a boxset of David Shepard's restorations of these.

    The Keatons appear to be getting difficult to get as individual titles (at least online) and the boxset containing all his features and shorts from 1920 to 1928 is rather expensive. I haven't seen the new Keaton double feature of The General (his best film) and Steamboat Bill Junior (possibly a way of dipping your feet in the water)but according to DVD Beaver there is no significant improvement in picture quality which was fine anyway for most titles in the Kino editions which have been around for a few years.

    The Slapstick Encyclopedia a five disc boxset has plenty of fascinating rare shorts. It gives a cross section of just about everyone who was anyone in silent comedy.

    For action fans Douglas Fairbanks Snr's films are always a good bet. These are all getting re-released this year and will be available individually or in a five disc boxset. This will contain the films as before apart from a new version of The Thief of Bagdad (the most spectacular of his films)with a new score. I'll be filling in the gaps in my Fairbanks' collection ! The titles in the set will be :

    The Mark of Zorro (1920) / Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925)
    The Three Musketeers (1921)
    Robin Hood (1922)
    The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
    The Black Pirate (1926)

    Recently silents has become much better value with extra features and my last two recommendations are extras laden DVD sets.

    The first is Foolish Wives (1922) which I found really sophisticated and ahead of its time in its view of fidelity. The director was the fascinating and notoriously volatile Erich Von Stroheim. As well as the film the disc has a great audio commentary which reveals in fascinating detail the history of this flawed masterpiece which was reduced in length like many of Von Stroheim's films were. There is also a feature length documentary about the career of Von Stroheim which looks a bit ropey at times but is never less than rivetting.

    My final recommendation is a set I'm currently enjoying : The Lon Chaney Collection which not only gives you three feature films with audio commentaries : the Ace of Hearts, The Unknown and Laugh,Clown,Laugh but a cracker of a documentary Lon Chaney : A Thousand Faces.

    There are so many good silent titles : Harry Langdon, the Forgotten Comedian Triple feature and also all those sets of early films from the dawn of cinema. I'm sure others will have recommendations too and while this subject has been covered before it was a few months ago and new material from cinema's earliest years continues to be released at a steady rate.
  5. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

    Jul 10, 1999
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    Potemkin Restoration
    BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- "Battleship Potemkin," Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent classic, has been restored and seen in its uncensored form for the first time in nearly 80 years.

    Cut by the Germans who bought the film, altered by the Soviets and banned in Britain and France for its revolutionary zeal, it nonetheless became one of the most important movies in cinema history.

    Restorers have worked for three years to insert scenes removed by German censors for their extreme violence and to correct translations of the Russian "inter-titles" which toned down the mutinous sailors' revolutionary rhetoric.

    "What we have restored now is more or less the version in which the film was screened in Moscow in January, 1926," Enno Patalas, the former director of the Munich Film Museum who led the restoration effort, told Reuters.

    Based on a true story, "Battleship Potemkin" dramatizes a mutiny on a Russian ship and how it inspired a failed 1905 uprising against the country's tsars.

    Shot for the 20th anniversary of the event, seemingly minor incidents have bloody consequences, none more so than the shot by a Cossack that triggers a massacre on the steps of Odessa in the film's most famous passage.

    The scene, including a baby's pram hurtling towards the sea after its mother has been killed, is back to its brutal best, with close-ups of feet stepping on a child's corpse and a distraught mother holding aloft her dying son.

    A written introduction by Leon Trotsky, removed by the Soviets after he fell foul of Josef Stalin following Lenin's death, has also been reinstated.

    "The only censorship cut in the Soviet Union was the omission of the epigraph by Trotsky which we have restored now. That of course was taken away in the 1930s and replaced by a Lenin quotation," said Patalas.

    There is more to this story at CNN....
  6. andrew markworthy

    Sep 30, 1999
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    There were a series of very successful showings of BP last year with a fresh musical score by (of all people) The Pet Shop Boys, which apparently was very good. When I last looked on the PSB website, the CD of the score was definitely coming out, and the DVD was under negotiation.
  7. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

    Jul 27, 2000
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  8. GregoryMesh

    GregoryMesh Supporting Actor

    Dec 21, 2004
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    Real Name:
    Gregory Mesh
    It's not restored version mentioned in the article...
  9. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

    Dec 25, 2001
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    I believe the Pet Shop Boys version is due out on DVD later in the year. I don't recall reading in any of the reviews that the version of the film used was the restored version. So there will probably be at least two DVDs of the film coming out this year.

    BTW - I've heard an audience recording of the performance and it was excellent. PSB also sent out a dvd to fan club members which acts somewhat like a trailer for the performance -- five minutes of highlights from the show.

  10. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

    Nov 1, 2000
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    Is this still on Criterion's agenda?
  11. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    AFAIK, Eisenstein: The Silent Years is still on Criterion's agenda. When will it come out, only The Shadow knows.
  12. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

    May 28, 2003
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    Count me sold when it comes out! I love it when these classic films from the early days of cinema are restored and preserved to DVD for future generations to enjoy. I picked up Kino Video's DVD of Metropolis a couple of years ago and was blown away by its quality, despite the fact that some 25-30 minutes of footage is lost forever. Having as complete a version as possible on DVD is the next best thing. With cinematic classics such as Metropolis, The Ten Commandments, both the 1907 and 1926 versions of Ben-Hur, and Battleship Potemkin, they should form the basis of any and every DVD consumer's library (whenever they are officially released). Sold! [​IMG] [​IMG]
  13. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Yeah, I'd hold out for the Criterion version. The Image disc is okay but no great shakes.

    If you're multi-region capable, rather than getting Kino's Metropolis (which is a bad PAL/NTSC conversion with ghosting), get the sparkling UK or German releases. There have been several versions in the UK; the original Eureka disc runs at an appallingly slow 12 fps so you'll want to make sure you're signing on for the edition restored by the Germans.
  14. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

    Oct 2, 1998
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    How do I know which is the one restored by the Germans? Anyone have a link?
  15. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

    Jan 31, 2003
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    Re: Metropolis

    Make sure it is the Eureka Masters of Cinema edition, released in January 2005. UPC # 5060000400946 (though I am positive that the original Eureka release did NOT run at 12 fps)

    DVD Beaver Comparison of Region 1 Kino release with new Region 2 Eureka Masters of Cinema release
  16. MichaelSloan

    MichaelSloan Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 16, 2004
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    I MUST see this "Potemkin" restoration at all costs[​IMG] It sure would be nice if "October" and "Strike" got the same treatment.
  17. DexterPQ

    DexterPQ Agent

    Jan 5, 2007
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  18. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    Criterion are doing a fab job getting all these claasics out


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