Wednesday 16 May 2018 4.03am
‘Battling Bad Food and a System that Can’t Cope and Doesn’t Care’ 2018
Potemkin (1925) [aka. The Battleship Potemkin]
Top 100 Films Ever Made –
This film is #11 in the 2012 BFI Critics Poll and equal #75 in the Directors Poll.
In the Directors Poll Potemkin ties with Hidden (2004), The Seventh Seal (1957), M (1931), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Shining (1980), Mulholland Drive (2001), The General (1926), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Fear Eats the Soul (1974), Kes (1969), Husbands (1970), The Wild Bunch (1969), Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975), Jaws (1975) and Los Olvidados (1950).
I really didn’t want to watch this film again. I’ve seen it twice before, and the last time was only two or three years, or maybe even four years, ago, but it feels like it was much more recent – like it was yesterday. I can’t watch it with the eyes of someone who hasn’t seen it before and I didn’t like it when I was eighteen, I didn’t like it when I was fifty, and I don’t enjoy it even now.
I saw Potemkin – the second time – at the Sydney Opera House, accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra who performed music by Shostakovich. But to be honest, or true, to the 100 Films in One Year project, I knew I needed to watch it again, to watch them all within that short space so I can compare them with each other and not judge them from a distant memory as I make a concerted effort to watch the ones I don’t know. I need to watch them all in the same frenzy as the ones I don’t know.
PHIL POWERS INTERVIEWED BY PHILIP POWERS, 16 May 2018
Philip Powers: Well, Philip, did you like ‘Battleship Potemkin’ (1925) any better this time around?
Phil Powers: No, not really.
Philip: But, you know it is one of the classics of Cinema. It’s one of the greatest films of all time.
Phil: When? 99-years ago?
Philip: 93-years ago! And now!
Phil: Because someone assembled five hundred extras and shot a bunch of badly executed shootings and deaths on a giant staircase?
Philip: Because it was pioneering for it’s time and it still says something as relevant today about governments and the people they represent; about big business and the person-in-the-street; about inequality; about dictators and those dictated to…
Phil: …I know, I know. It’s the wealthy upper class versus the oppressed middle and lower classes. It’s about battling unfair policies where the rich get tax breaks and the poor get taxed even worse. And – of course – it’s also important, because it’s about the kind of situation we’re in right now, because of what Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is doing to Australians right now – where are we now? 16 May, 2018 – which is exactly what Lenin and Stalin were doing in the U.S.S.R – being dictators. Instead of serving all Australians – Turnbull is serving the people of his own class and status – the rich and powerful – making them richer and more powerful while taking money and services away from the poor, taking money and services away from the unemployed, taking money and services away from those are ill, taking money and services away from those who are on pensions. It’s always going to be a universal theme which Battleship Potemkin champions, the little guy, the working-class man, against the beauracracy and criminality of the entitled, followed by the destruction of the people forming unions to ask for a “fair go”. It’d be a better film if it showed how to rise up against our oppressor’s and win the battle rather than celebrating their slaughter outside government house.
Philip: Not celebrating! Showing how horrific it is.
Phil: Martyrs are martyrs. They don’t actually change anything. They rise up, create a revolution, and then, if they do get into power, they replicate the same behaviour as the people who they complained oppressed them.
Philip: But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a film that speaks to the importance of creating revolution against the rich and powerful, no matter the cost.
Phil: It’s a film which shows what happens if you try to change the inequities in your own country, republic or world: you get gunned down, beaten and murdered in the streets. And whether it is under Communism, Socialism or the reign of the Australian Liberal or Labor Party, no matter who you put in that position, no one ever has enough power, enough interest or enough backing, to change what’s happening right now. Right here! If the pensioners rose up against the Australian government right now, they’d be knocked done in droves by the Federal Police, the State Police and the local thugs and bullies. There would be instant retaliation.
Philip: So, we just ignore it and stop trying to make a difference?
Phil: We can’t make a difference unless we somehow can mass together to create a larger force than those who supposedly represent our needs and, correct me if I’m wrong, but they arrest you for doing that! If Battleship Potemkin teaches us anything, it is that we will suffer at the hands of those in power whether we are sailors on a boat or in the streets in 1905, or people in Sydney in 2018.
Philip: So, it’s a powerful film, right?
Phil: Of course it’s powerful. It was always powerful. And it shows a wrong. But I still don’t like it.
Philip: No one asked you to like it, just to watch it and feel wronged.