Two Films by Sergei Eisenstein: October & Alexander Nevsky (DVD)
Officially produced to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Russian Revolution, October quickly became another of Sergei Eisenstein's experiments in film form. As in his masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin, Eisenstein used explosive montage to create the spirit of revolution - in this case, the events in St. Petersburg during the months leading up to the Bolshevik revolt. Eisenstein's insistence on speaking the language of pure film (deploying space, shadow, movement, and rhythm to create his meaning) shoves his mad rush of images straight into the viewer's eye. A worker's rebellion in the streets, followed by the raising of bridges to isolate their neighborhood, becomes a visual symphony of panic. The film has also been known as Ten Days That Shook the World, its release title in the U.S. (borrowed from the book by John Reed). Its value as propaganda can be debated, but October is incredibly dynamic as film art.
Sergei Eisenstein's landmark tale of Russia thwarting the German invasion of the 13th century was wildly popular and quite intentional, given the prevailing Nazi geopolitical advancement and destruction at the time. It can still be viewed as a masterful use of imagery and music, with the Battle on the Ice sequence as the obvious highlight. A great score by Prokofiev was effectively integrated by the Russian filmmaker, but stands on its own merit as well.