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#147- October (Ten Days that Shook the World)

Quick recap: October is a silent propaganda film chronicling the Bolshevik revolution and storming of the Winter Palace.

Fun (?) fact: The actual storming of the Winter Palace wasn’t very photogenic on account of the chaos, so scenes from October are now used as historical evidence.


My thoughts: Propaganda films fascinate me for many reasons, but I mostly look forward to watching them because it’s fun to see if I will fall into the agenda the film pushes. Salt of the Earth is a great example of this. I anticipated watching October even more because I have little to no knowledge of Russian history and wanted to see if that would affect my thinking in any way.

A little history before my review: First, the Tsarist government was overthrown and a new government was set up of mostly aristocrats. They were then overthrown by the working class, who formed the Bolshevik party. From there, they elected their own members and the Soviet Union was born. I learned none of this from the movie, by the way. After October finished, I rushed to Wikipedia and read up on what the hell I had just watched.

So, October is not the sort of movie anyone should watch without context, like I chose to do. All I saw was two hours of people running around with guns and it was all very confusing. Add to that, the director put in artsy images to drive home his point, all of which went over my head. For example, in one scene a fat guy with really bad teeth was shown talking and looking important. Spliced in with that guy was an image of a really creepy bird that kept turning its head. Afterwards, I learned that the bird was actually a peacock, the symbolism being that the aristocrat was preening, as a peacock does.

also, this dead horse hanging from a bridge was symbolic of something

also, this dead horse hanging from a bridge was symbolic of something

October surprisingly works really well as a propaganda film. As a moviegoer in the 20s I would’ve probably been moved by the Bolsheviks’ idea of helping the working class and poor.Director Eisenstein turned everything black and white, trying to show clearly who was working for the good of the people and who wasn’t. It’s easy to get caught up in something like that, especially seeing images of people starving while bureaucrats sit in their fancy houses and dine on fine food and expensive alcohol.   Time is on my side though and I know how this story turned out and so in watching this film in 2015, I was mostly unmoved.

Final review: 2/5. It would’ve earned a 1, but watching October has spurred my interest in Russian history so that’s not a bad thing to take from this.

Up next: The Story of a Cheat

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