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OCR A2 Film Sec A Messages and Values in Global Film: Battleship Potemkin & Les Quatre Cents Coups

Rob Miller | Tuesday September 15, 2015

Categories: A Level, OCR A Level, OCR A2, Analysis, Film Analysis, Films & Case Studies, World Cinema, Battleship Potemkin, Les Quatre Cents Coups, Genres & Case Studies, Crime, Drama, History, War

1. How is style and theme used in communicating messages and values in the films you have studied? (50)

The two films I have studied are Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin from 1925 and Francois Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) from 1959. Both films are encoded with a filmmaking style that both reflects a period in cinematic history and also with narrative themes deeply embedded revealing underlying messages and values.

Potemkin’ is considered a classic of 1920s silent soviet cinema with Eisenstein directing films alongside famous contemporaries like Dziga Vertov (Man with a Movie Camera) and Vsevolod Pudovkin (Mother) but each with their own recognisable style. Their themes reflected political upheaval in Russia at the time with both Eisenstein in Potemkin and Pudovkin in Mother reflecting the struggle against Tsarist rule in 1905 while the Russian Revolution itself, which dismantled Tsarist autocracy, did not happen until 1917. Both filmmakers were overtly political working within a Marxist ideology while Eisenstein criticised Vertov’s 1929 film for its ‘hooligan camera tricks’ and for just using film as an artistic experimental form. Potemkin is a narrative that dramatises a mutiny on a ship when the crew rebels against their officers who represented the Tsarist regime. Everything in the film is a metaphor or micro narrative reflecting broader political struggle in Russia and Eisenstein at the time and Eisenstein became well known for using montage editing in the film for these ends to promote Bolshevik propaganda and ideology.

In terms of narrative style the film is broken into five acts including ‘Men and Maggots’ (act one) and ‘The Odessa Staircase’ containing the famous Odessa Steps sequence in which Tsarist soldiers massacre civilians. Using montage editing enabled Eisenstein to communicate Bolshevik messages and values by creating a maximum contrast between graphic shapes...

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