"October" (1928)

aka "Ten Days That Shook the World"

aka "Oktyabr"

Produced in the USSR by Sovkino
Directed by Sergei Eisenstein,
Scenario by Sergei Eisenstein and G. Alexandrov, Released in 1928.

Cast: Nikandrov, Vladimir Popov, Boris Livanov, soldiers of the Red Army, sailors of the Red Navy, and citizens of Leningrad

American Journalist Renames Film

The title "Ten days That Shook The World" was the work of John Reed, an American journalist who had covered Pancho Villa in Mexico, the Eastern front during World War I and was in Russia to witness the October revolution and write an account of the events. When he returned to the United States, he organized and led the American Communist Party. When he was indicted for sedition, he escaped to Russia. He died of typhus and was buried in the Kremlin. A few years ago a movie called "Reds" gave a fairly accurate description of his life.

Recreating the Fall of the Kerensky Government

The movie is a staged semi-documentary covering the 10 days in October, 1917, when the Bolseviks brought down the Kerensky government. It shows Kerensky as a babbling fool, and it has many memorable scenes including the raising of the bridge, the dismantling of the statue of Alexander III and the storming of the Winter Palace.

It was one of the best of the number of films commissioned by the Soviet government to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Revolution. It was also the most unpopular film that was made for the celebration. The official rejection of Trotsky, who had been one of the leaders in the coup's attempt to oust the Romanov's and the Kerensky governments, figured prominently in the film, and it necessitated his being expunged from it. Audiences were disorientated by its dynamic montage, the constantly changing images, the constantly contrasting figures, its visual metaphors and ambiguous attitude to religious relics. Eisenstein was given almost unlimited resources to produce the film, and many of the actors had been involved in the actual storming of the Winter Palace. Eisenstein drew many of his ideas from the "mass pantomime" of the attack on the Winter Palace that the people of Leningrad had been staging every year since 1920.


The original version was 9,500 feet when it was first screened on November 7, 1927, for the tenth anniversary celebration, and when released to the public, it had been edited down to remove all traces of Leon Trotsky who was opposing Stalin's policies. The version released in England and the Unites States in 1928 was further edited down to 8,600 feet. The Los Angeles Times published stills from the movie showing the Communist soldiers ransacking the Winter Palace, including the soldiers helping themselves to bottles of wine from the Winter Palace cellars as evidence of "continuing Bolshevik crimes." Some of the other memorable films released that year were, "The End Of St. Petersburg," "The Girl With The Hat Box," "SVD" ("The Club Of the Big Deed"), and "Zvenigora."

The Holt Foreign Film Guide by Ronald Bergan and Robyn Karney
Kino by Jay Leyda.

copyright 2002 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

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