Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Extract of Battleship Potemkin by Eisenstein, 1925 Odessa Steps sequence
"The steps of Odessa"
"In those memorable days, the town was as one with the battleship 'Potemkin'." A row of boats, their masts and sails at identical angles. "White winged yawls swarmed about its sides with gifts of vistuals" The boats sail left to right. A small group of people wander in the foreground in the same direction as the boats. Spaced evenly, the sails billow in the wind. The group, carrying baskets jump down from the gangplank to get into a waiting boat. The boats sail together, at a constant speed. Seen from above. They cut past, seen through a set of horizontal bars. Men walk down towards the banks of the river, following the direction of the boats. A man and woman scan the assembled crowd, she holds a white parasol above her head. They see their friends, who, looking up, wave. A woman stands looking out, in pince-nez and a hat, talking emphaticly with her arm around a girl at her side. A young man looks into the distance, he shields his eyes from the sun. The boats race forwards. Sailors wave down at them. As the boats advance, more sailors gather, waving. Seen from the side, the whole side of their ship is hung with hundreds, all in white hats. The boats sails cut past them. One by one, the boats reach the battleship and let down their sails. The sailors rush to greet them. Seen from the ship, an intricate pattern of almond shaped boats. A huge crowd gathered on the steps of the shore, wave. A woman climbs up the steps on the side of the ship, passing a bird to the sailor who greets her. Men throw parcels from one boat to another in a chain. The crowd waves in unison from the shore. The boats from above. People pass along a rabbit, a cage of geese andd bowls of food. The crowds wave. The woman in pince-nez and her daughter smile. A well dressed woman with an extravagant hat and opera glasses looks on, then arranges a false moustache around her nose. The feet and gowns of elegant women perched on the steps. A woman waves, spinning her umbrella. At floor level, a man with no legs crawls between the two elegant women and settles there, waving. The woman in the moustache smiles. A boy carrying a basket winces, shielding his eyes from the sun. His mother bends down to him. A flag flies on the ship. The boy, encouraged by his mother, waves. A boy and girl, held up by strong arms, wave. The womans' gowns and shoes, from the waist on the steps.
"Suddenly" Three times, a woman pulls her head back, her hair over her face. The man with no legs runs quickly on his hands down the steps as crowds race around him. As the elegant women run forward, ones white parasol fills the screen. The man with no legs throws himself down thick steps past the ankles of running people. A line of soldiers in white uniforms advance behind the running people. From a distance, the three long flights of steps, a swarm of people racing down them. Close up of a mans feet stood on a step, a small black stain on the preceeding step. Slowly his feet move to the right, his knees buckling under him. Cuts just before his knees smash onto the steps. A blurred figure jumping. The man falls, tripping up two others. The steps, people run, some fall. Bands of soldiers advance, a black statue towers up on the left, a white church in front of them, at the foot of the steps. The camera moves smoothly down the steps, following the passage of the crowds. Some look back in fear. Three women lie in a pile on the steps. Another man lies on his back, the steps stained black around him. People jump over him. An old man and woman hide behind a stone wall, they peer out in fear. The soldiers open fire. The man hiding is shot through the head. His wife covers her ears. Crowd run. The mother with the basket leads her son down the steps at a steady pace. The soldiers fire. He is left lying, pointing downhill, a black stain on his face. He cries out. His mother keeps running, but, looking back, seeing people jumping over his body, she screams. The boys legs, in shorts and socks. A boot treads on the boys wrist. Crowds batter him, trying to run. His mother cries out. She walks slowly to where he lies and picks him up. She stands and shouts out. On the steps more and more people collapse, more are left behind. A crowd of women crouch behind a wall, the woman wearing pince-nez stands up, gesturing her arms wide- "Go - beseech them." The crowds run, tripping. She stands up, welcoming the soldiers. The other women fearfully gather at her feet. The soldiers advance, their shadows falling down the steps. The women look up as they come closer, their rifles aimed. The women hiding creep off. The soldiers fire together. The woman holding her child, mounts the steps slowly.The body across her. She shouts up at the advancing soldiers. Their shadows fall across the bodies lining the steps as they march forwards. At the bottom of the steps, the woman holding up her child moves slowly. The soldiers bare down from the top. She walks up, pleading, their shadows cut across the scene.She says- "Look - my boy is ill" She stands. The general holds up a stick, the soldiers wait for the command to fire. The group of women hold out their hands, pleading, moving forwards slowly. The soldiers fire and the woman collapses, her child layed across her stomach. The soldiers advance steadily, they step over the bodies. Crowds run. At the bottom of the steps soldiers on horses round up the running people. Along the line of rifles. The group of women fall down. The one wearing the pince-nez is left looking around her. At the top of the steps a woman struggles to take her baby out of its pram as the soldiers advance. She looks up, a black shawl about her head. She stands in front of the pram, protecting the baby. The soldiers feet march down the steps. Across the line of rifles. They fire. The woman in black is hit, she reels and clutches at an intricate buckle tied around her waist. Her head falls back. The crowds are stopped on the steps. She reaches for the buckle. Her face drops slowly out of the screen. She falls to her knees. The baby squints in the sun as people run past it. The line of soldiers advances over bodies layed out on the steps. The wheels of the pram teeter on the steps. The line of rifles. The woman in black sits down on the ground. As she dies, she leans against the pram and pushes it down the steps. The baby, clothed in white, squirms. A woman cries out. The steps. A man pulls at the body of his wife. The wheels of the pram bounce down. At the soldiers feet, hands reach up. They fire their rifles down. The woman in the pince-nez looks up to see the pram rolling down. The mother in black, lies on the steps. The pram slows down. A soldier, baring his teeth raises his arm across him, weilding a sword. The woman cries out. The pram and child. The woman gasps, her glasses smashed, a black stain across her face.
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