Comparison between Mazower’s Dark Continent and and Eisenstein’s Potemkin

The 1925 film The Battleship Potemkin by Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein portrays a 1905 mutiny of the Russian naval ship Potemkin based on a true story. Set outside Odessa during the 1905 revolution Eisenstein shows the narrative of the social cultural history of time through a settled Soviet Russia viewpoint. Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent follows many of same issues of the Russian revolution and later political instabilities of Europe discussed through the film.
The causes of the mutiny portrayed in the film track the themes but not completely time specifics of Mazower’s history of the Russian revolution. The low quantity and low quality of food available on the ship created issues between the officers and the crew. This issue is similar to the food shortages seen by the peasants and proletariat in 1905. The film notes the failures of the Russo-Japanese war and the undesirable conditions leading to such poor moral. A picture of Tsar Nicolas in the officers’ cabin over top of the piano is subtly inserted with the goal of showing the overall enemy or “executioner” that is not truly labeled in the movie.
Mazower describes many of the overall sentiments and goals of the communist revolutionary movement primarily later in 1917. First you can see the same class structures social differences experienced on the battleship. The separation between classes discussed by Mazower is mirrored with the disgust for which the officers have for their soldiers, and how the people are angered at the wealthy man in Odessa (which is possibly religious based anti-Semitism). Second the common use of violence as a first mean of control is brought up in Mazower speaking to the Cheka and use of state terror. In 1905 the bloody Sunday event of state terror was a catalyst for the first revolution and the history of the Potemkin. In the film the command to kill the sailors came fairly easily and the Cossacks to put down a rebellion killed citizens indiscriminately, accurate to some Tsarist policy.
Some of the things I found difficult to understand were who, besides the officers that tried to execute the sailors, were the opposition that the public was upset with? While they blame the Jews and yell at what appears to be the bourgeoisies group, the people look to be an eclectic group of society including both spectrums of social classes. Obviously the Cossacks showed extreme violence as to show the Tsar again to be the enemy but as a film it was never said the antagonist outright. Also the religion aspect of the film seemed to the excess of Soviet propaganda. Mazower’s work does not describe that much hatred of clergy and Orthodox Church by 1905. I instead understood later anti religious politics to be the intellectuals’ policy for a more efficient communist system.

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