My grandfather emigrated from Ukraine to Boston in 1906 to avoid conscription into the Russian armed forces. No book ever published gives you the visceral feeling of what that experience must have been like the way “Battleship Potemkin” does. It’s one of the most powerful films ever made and perhaps the greatest war film of all time—86 years after it was released, Sergei Eisenstein’s masterpiece still packs a wallop.
The superb new restoration of this classic silent film, now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino International, is a must-see for all lovers of film and history. And it looks better than ever, with dozens of missing shots replaced, title cards restored and the original score re-recorded in hi-def.
After decades of crappy Soviet-sponsored “restorations” that destroyed the rhythm of Eisenstein’s editing by “step printing” the images to conform to sound speed, it’s finally possible to get some idea of what the film looked like when was shown at its first screenings in 1925. A 42-minute documentary on the making and restoration of the film, “Tracing the Battleship Potemkin,” helps us to fully appreciate this accomplishment.
For all my love of silent movies, I used to think there wasn’t much worth seeing made prior to 1914. Kino’s release of “Gaumont Treasures, 1897-1913” changed my mind in a big way and the recent follow-up DVD release of “Gaumont Treasures Vol. 2, 1908-1916” is further evidence of the era’s virtues.
This 3-DVD box set of early films from the Gaumont Film Company should be acquired by every serious film buff. These restorations, virtually unseen in the U.S., showcase the pioneers of French cinema who shaped the art of slapstick before Sennett and Chaplin came along, not to mention animation, drama, and even Westerns.
The animation of Emile Cohl, the slapstick comedy and “French Westerns” of Jean Durand, and the romantic comedies of Jacques Feyder are the focus of this set. Also included in this collection are some of Gaumont’s innovative experiments in color and synchronized sound from the 1910s.
More from Jordan:
Keaton’s ‘Cameraman’ at TCM Film Festival, ‘Our Hospitality’ on Blu-ray
Brit WWII drama at TCM fest, John Lennon war comedy new on DVD
Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish legacy, Kirk Douglas’ new gift to theatre
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Stages, vintage Corman on Blu-ray
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