Battleship Potemkin and The Dark Continent

Both the book Dark Continent and the film Battleship Potemkin offer unique interpretations of the causes and results of the Russian Revolution.  Battleship Potemkin depicts the Russian Revolution on a smaller scale, as the sailors on the battleship Potemkin mutiny against their Tsarist officers. In Dark Continent, Mazower describes the Russian Revolution as “all the parties involved in the overthrow of the old autocracy…committed to preserving their gains from the monarchy’s return” (Mazower 10). The film depicts this mentality very well, as the lower classes come together to defeat the Tsarists after Valkulinchuk, the soldier who instigated the rebellion on the Potemkin is killed.
Similarly to Skylar, the role of religion in relation of the communist ideals of the film intrigued me.  Just about all depictions of religion in the film are negative.  In an early scene, a sailor is shown smashing a plate with the Christian mantra “give us this day our daily bread” inscribed on it.  A God-like figure is also shown during some of the mutiny scenes, telling the rebelling sailors to remember him.  The sailors however, ignore him for the sake of continuing the mutiny, at one point even pushing him out of the way.  I saw this scene as symbolic of the rejection of religion in the communist USSR.  In both of these scenes, Christianity is portrayed as being closely connected to the Tsarist regime with which the sailors are trying to do away through their mutiny.

Another scene that shows the relationship between religion and communism is one in which a man in the crowd states “Kill the Jews.”  For this comment, he is attacked by the mob.  Mazower describes in Dark Continent how the new communist state had unrestricted citizenship in theory, even enfranchising women and some foreigners.  This creates an image of a far more tolerant society than that of others of the time, such as Nazi Germany.  Religious intolerance would create a disruption to this ideal communist society, resulting in the rejection of religion as a whole.

This film does an excellent job portraying the positives of a communist society.

 

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