Strike Screen 4 articles

Strike

1925

Strike Poster
  • The Hegelian movement from thesis, to antithesis, then finally to synthesis determines the rhythm of Strike, in which images of a dejected worker's belt (fashioned into an ad hoc noose) rhyme with the belts of the factory floor, creating an imagistic allegory between capitalist labor, slavery, and finally death. This was the intellectual function of montage, exactingly theorized by Eisenstein in essays and books, but most fulsomely on screen.

  • For my money, more impressive than this finale is the earlier episode in which firemen turn their hoses on the workers’ demonstration. The workers scatter, pursued by the blasts of water, until they are scrambling over one another and pounded against alley walls. This is Strike’s Odessa Steps sequence, and for throbbing dynamism and pictorial expressiveness–you can feel the soaking thrust of the water–it has few equals in silent film.

  • This razor-crisp blast from the past isn’t quite as burdened with grim, commanding Communist purpose as Eisenstein’s subsequent silents. It is, in fact, sprightly, jaunty, ceaselessly inventive and, surprisingly enough if you haven’t seen it in a few decades, witty.

  • The possibility that workers and peasants were simply untutored in the art of watching a movie to such an extent that two different realistic shots could combine for them in a single metaphor remained unaddressed at the time. And yet, already by the end of the decade, Eisenstein, just like Kuleshov, was to discover that his formal experiments were unacceptable for the officially sanctioned policy of making “movies for the millions”.