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August 1995, Week 5


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"Richard J. Leskosky" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 25 Aug 1995 17:09:34 -0500
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On 8/25/95 Ranata Jackson wrote:
>to the gentleman who recalled a "jump cut" in the Odessa Steps sequence of
>POTEMKIN -- in the print i have on tape, there is no such sequence of images:
>what we see is two shots (with slight change of angle and shot distance; the
>second is an extreme close-up) of a cossack raising his sword repeatedly --
>cut-- close-up of the woman in the pince-nez, now shattered and her face
>bloody.  this is one very good example of Eisenstein's  thesis v antithesis =
>synthesis: the idea of violence/oppression is implied by (what he would have
>called) the "collision" of shot 1 (the cossack) with shot 2 (the woman); the
>violent act isn't shown but is conjured up in our minds.
> anyway, earlier we did see this same woman in close-up as she
>watches the baby carriage bump down the steps (again, this narrative link is
>assumed by the editorial structure: baby carriage -- woman looking horrified
>-- baby carriage). in this sequence of shots i noticed that there *is* a jump
>cut in the shot of the woman, but my sense is that this resulted from a tear
>and subsequent repair of the film, rather than an intentional break in
Unfortunately, it's not that simple.  The USSR released a sound version of
POTEMKIN in 1950 which was somewhat re-edited from Eisenstein's original.
Additionally, Eisenstein's original negative was "mutilated in Germany"
(according to Yon Barna's EISENSTEIN).  So there are at least two versions
of the film in circulation and actually probably more than that.  The
variations extend to the Odessa Steps sequence:  I've had the disorienting
if not downright embarrassing experience of preparing a class lecture on
the sequence using a printed shot-by-shot description only to find that the
projected sequence did not correspond to what I had been working from.
--Richard Leskosky
Richard J. Leskosky                     office phone: (217) 244-2704
Assistant Director                      FAX: (217) 244-2223
Unit for Cinema Studies                 University of Illinois
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