Battleship Potemkin

Distribution, censorship and restoration

After the first screening the film was not distributed in the Soviet Union and there was a danger that it would be lost among other productions. Poet Vladimir Mayakovsky intervened because his good friend, poet Nikolai Aseev participated in the making of the film’s intertitles. Mayakovsky’s opposing party was Sovkino’s president Konstantin Shvedchikov. He was a politician and friend of Vladimir Lenin who once hid Lenin in his home before the Revolution. He had a primitive taste in film and was an anti-Semite who disliked Eisenstein for his Jewish background. Mayakovsky presented Shvedchikov with a hard demand that the film would be distributed abroad and intimidated Shvedchikov with the fate of becoming a villain in history books. Mayakovsky's closing sentence was "Shvedchikovs come and go, but art remains. Remember that!". Besides Mayakovsky many others also persuaded Shvedchikov to spread the film around the world and after constant pressure from Sovkino he eventually sent the film in Berlin. There Battleship Potemkin became a huge success, and the film was again screened in Moscow.[6]

When Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford visited Moscow in July 1926, they were full of praise regarding Battleship Potemkin and Fairbanks helped distribute the film in the United States and even asked Eisenstein to go to Hollywood. In the United States the film premiered in New York on the 5th of December 1926 at the Biltmore Theatre.[34][35]

It was shown in an edited form in Germany, with some scenes of extreme violence edited out by German distributors. A written introduction by Trotsky was cut from Soviet prints after he ran afoul of Stalin. The film was banned in West Germany, the United Kingdom[36][37] (until 1954 and X-rated[38][39] until 1978), France, and other countries for its revolutionary zeal.

Today the film is widely available in various DVD editions. In 2004, a three-year restoration of the film was completed. Many excised scenes of violence were restored, as well as the original written introduction by Trotsky. The previous titles, which had toned down the mutinous sailors' revolutionary rhetoric, were corrected so that they would now be an accurate translation of the original Russian titles.


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