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| With: Maksim Shtraukh, Grigori Aleksandrov, Mikhail Gomorov, Ivan Klyukvin, Aleksandr Antonov, Yudif Glizer, Anatoli Kuznetsov, Vera Yanukova, Vladimir Uralsky, Boris Yurtsev |
| Written by: Sergei M. Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ilya Kravchunovsky, Valeryan Pletnyov |
| Directed by: Sergei M. Eisenstein |
| MPAA Rating: Not Rated |
| Running Time: 89 |
| Date: 28/04/1925 |
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Just the Picket
By Jeffrey M. Anderson Sergei Eisenstein was 26 when he made his feature directorial debut with Strike, and it's as crazy and full-of-beans as any debut film in history. Of course, Eisenstein had something else in mind. He wanted to make a serious revolutionary film for the people. Thankfully, his film is so energetic and ferocious that no amount of propaganda or preaching could squelch its power.
Even at this early stage, Eisenstein had mastered his theory of montage editing and turned it into an art form. Images smash together and clash wildly, suggesting new ideas with each turn. They rhythm is intoxicating, and it can make your head spin. Like his next film, and his greatest masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin (1925), Strike does not focus on any specific, individual characters. Rather, it's a movie about "workers," "the system," etc.
It follows a non-specific strike as factory workers stop working and demand more wages and shorter working hours. Eisenstein shows the factory owners going over the demands, sitting in a cavernous house, drinking cocktails and smoking cigars. When one owner drops a lemon slice on his shoe, a servant is summoned to pick it up. Eisenstein crosses the images of these fat, self-satisfied villains with the noble workers, thin, ragged, and angry.
Later, the film gets into a subplot about a spy, and then follows some clowns (!) for a while, but everything moves fast and sticks to the same spirit; nothing feels out of place. Things get harrowing when the police come in to break the strike, using some shocking brutality that would echo the most powerful scenes of the next film. In fact, all of Strike feels like a warm-up to Battleship Potemkin; Eisenstein developed all of his tools here, but put them to better use in the follow-up. Regardless, Strike is more than just a bit of history. It's still very much alive.
The film has been available on DVD for some time, but Kino has just released definitive new remastered DVD and Blu-Ray editions, the quality rivals their striking Battleship Potemkin release from last year. Extras include