Kino International have announced the release, on 23 October, of a two-DVD boxed set of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, with the original Edmund Meisel score, played by the Deutches Filmorchestra. This is from a new restoration of the film by the Deutsche Kinematek, and it’s a deluxe presentation, as the Kino blurb indicates:
Odessa – 1905. Enraged with the deplorable conditions on board the armored cruiser Potemkin, the ship’s loyal crew contemplates the unthinkable – mutiny. Seizing control of the Potemkin and raising the red flag of revolution, the sailors’ revolt becomes the rallying point for a Russian populace ground under the boot heels of the Czar’s Cossacks. When ruthless White Russian cavalry arrives to crush the rebellion on the sandstone Odessa Steps, the most famous and most quoted film sequence in cinema history is born.
For eight decades, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 masterpiece has remained the most influential silent film of all time. Yet each successive generation has seen BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN subjected to censorship and recutting, its unforgettable power diluted in unauthorized public domain editions from dubious sources. Until now. Kino is proud to join the Deutsche Kinematek in association with Russia’s Goskinofilm, the British Film Institute, Bundesfilm Archive Berlin, and the Munich Film Museum in presenting this all new restoration of BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN. Dozens of missing shots have been replaced, and all 146 title cards restored to Eisenstein’s specifications. Edmund Meisel’s definitive 1926 score, magnificently rendered by the 55-piece Deutches Filmorchestra in 5.1 Stereo Surround, returns Eisenstein’s masterwork to a form as close to its creator’s bold vision as has been seen since the film’s triumphant 1925 Moscow premiere.
From the Series “The Year 1905”
Russia 1925 B&W/Color 69 Min. Full-frame (1.33:1)
Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein
Screenplay by N.F. Agadzhanova-Shutko
Head Cinematographer: Eduard Tisse
Music by Edmund Meisel (1926)
Courtesy of Ries & Erler, Berlin
Adaptation and Instrumentation by Helmut Imig
Performed by the Deutsches Filmorchestra (2005)
Restored under the direction of Enno Patalas in collaboration with Anna Bohn
Presented in association with Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen
supported by Bundesarchiv, Berlin; British Film Institute, London; Gosfilmofond, Moscow; Film Museum, Munich
Licensed by Transit Film
Copyright 2007 Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek
The extras are Tracing Battleship Potemkin, a 42-minute documentary on the making and restoration of the film, the restored film either with newly-translated English intertitles or with original Russian intertitles (and optional English subtitles), the Meisel score presented in 5.1 Stereo Surround, and a photo gallery. There’s pre-ordering from September. The DVD set is, of course, Region 1.
This DVD box is an absolute must for everyone interested in cinema or who makes a living out of film. The film is brought back as much as possible to its uncencored state. That means that there are relatively high levels of violence (although it might be concidered marginal by the vieuwer who has seen modern films like John Rambo). Violence and revolutionairy rethoric was cencored out as much as possible by the Weimar cencors. But the most astounding feature to me is that Leon Trotsky’s quote is placed back at the beginning of the film, which was so hastely cut out and suplemented by some quote of Lenin during the stalinist de-generation of the USSR.
I find the original Meisel score acually quite good. It had been a rush job of Meisel to compose it. Nontheless it adds great feeling to the movie. It draws more heavely on original revolutionairy tunes. Mainly the Marseillaise (or rather, its russian worker’s interpretation), Immortal victims, Varshavyanka and slight hinds to the tune of the Internationale can be heard. The rest of the tunes of the score are mostly rythm. With some very memorable melodies.