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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 3, No. 7



The Photographic Club's screening of "October" recently was probably for many of us a first introduction to Soviet Cinema. From the very beginning the Soviet leaders have recognised its importance. The decree Nationalising the cinema industry was signed by Lenin as early as August, 1919, and from that time onward, cinema operators have recorded every phase of the joys and sorrows of the U. S.S.R. The heroes of these" films were the masses. Lenin himself once said, pointing to the workers and peasants gathered near the. Kshesinska palace in Petrograd in 1917, "Film them, for they are making history!" This attitude has not been confined to the U.S.S.R although it was there that it had its beginnings. In England, for example, it has become the ever-growing Documentary movement.

"October" is perhaps the supreme example of a film without hero or plot. In it Eisenstein has succeeded in finding high artistic form for the most stirring deeds and ideas of the people's Revolution. As he himself says, his endeavour is "To put an [unclear: and] to the conflicts between the language of logic, the system of concepts, page break and the language of images". Though he had made two previous films, "The Strike", and "Battleship Potemkin", it was in "October" that his concepts reached completeness.

The film was not without its faults, even allowing for the limited resources available to the Soviet cinema to grapher in 1927. Eisenstein himself has repudiated the film as being without emotion. Nevertheless, it is seldom that anything as good appears on a Wellington screen. Even in such films as "The Grapes of Wrath", and "The Good Earth", the characters lack the reality of those of "October". To some of us, the presence of so much unwashed humanity on one screen was somewhat of a shock, and seldom have dead people looked so terribly dead as the girl left on the rising bridge. Particularly notable was the architecture of the film. After the lath and plaster of American and European studios, the solidity of the buildings and statues was immediately apparent.

If it is necessary to single out one portion of the film as being "the best", the honour will have to go to the scene in which the bridge is raised, cutting off the workers' quarters from the centre of the city. The reflections on the girders of the bridge - the running feet - the rails of the tramway - the horse -the dead [unclear: girl's]- The cutting grows more rapid, the movement ceases. The cor of the girl, a small white speck, slides down the grey expanse of the bridge. The dead horse splashes into the river.

Notable also is the simple ending - Lenin's words, "The power is ours. We commence the reconstruction".

The Photographic Club did wonders with the gymnasium in converting it into a cinema for the occasion, but they should take care next time to see that the commentary is audible (for we hope that there will be a next time. A film like "October" cannot be completely grasped in a single sitting), and also rearrange the music for the last three reels. Possibly, the audience would have listened to the overture if the lights had been dimmed, even it was highbrow stuff from the Carnegie collection.