Saturday, February 11, 2006

Strike (1925)

Russian cops don't pull any punches, do they?

Genre: Silent Drama (Soviet Union)

Starring: Grigori Aleksandrov & Aleksandr Antonov (The Battleship Potemkin)

Directed By: Sergei Eisenstein (October; Alexander Nevsky)

Overview: A Russian factory strike threatens not only the fat cats in control, but their spies and the very lives of the workers themselves.

Acting: This film was one of the first that had no 'main' character. The workers as a whole were 'those who stood on the right side of history'. They were more archetypal than actual, and though that adds its own flavour (like the spies who actually looked like their namesake: The Owl, The Monkey) it invited such a degree of melodramatic acting that I found laughable. Too much, even if it is on purpose.
Rating: 4

Cinematography: Great! Vast panoramas of huge machines chugging along. Double exposures, vignetting, fade-ins. This guy was an expert with the camera, yes sir it's majestic to look at, if you're into the old style of film, and even if you aren't. Honestly, this director did other classics and though I haven't seen them yet, I'm sure to like the look of them.
Rating: 8

Script: The script was mostly narrative description rather than actual dialogue, and though it worked fine, it really was unimaginative and rather than implying the lesson, this writer used the D.W. Griffith method of silent film lesson teaching: saying it flat out. "Remember the Bolsheviks!" Search me, but your FILM should say that, not you.
Rating: 4

Plot: The story is a good one. There's a strike brewing, there's spies sent, the city shuts down and things escalate to a grandiose magnitude. The ending, though abrupt has quite the impact. Those Czarist Russians were hardcore, let me tell you. You think America is messed up...
Rating: 7

Mood: The music was perfect, a touch Russian, a touch good old-school silent film. The fat cat archetypes and the spies that look like the animal they're named after, those factories, those crowds! Admittedly though over the top, the mood was decent.
Rating: 7

All the spies 'look' like their namesake. This one's called 'The Owl', get it? Yeah, me neither.

Overall Rating: 60% (Strike Three, More Like)

Aftertaste:The whole thing could have been much better, but I think I'll chalk up the film to failure due to cultural and age differences. The director was a cinematic genius, but he was just too blunt for me. Film is very expressionist in this era, it's a big thing and hard to get away from. Some pull it off, some don't. The problem here was the characters and script were surreal, whereas usually it's the look and feel that benefits from such a thing.