Ten Days That Shook the World
October was one of two films commissioned by the Soviet government to honour the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution (the other was Vsevolod Pudovkin’s The End of St. Petersburg). Eisenstein was chosen to head the project due to the international success he had achieved with The Battleship Potemkin in 1925. Nikolai Podvoisky, one of the troika who led the storming of the Winter Palace, was responsible for the commission.
The scene of the storming was based more on The Storming of the Winter Palace from 1920, a re-enactment involving Vladimir Lenin and thousands of Red Guards, witnessed by 100,000 spectators, than the original occasion, which was far less photogenic. This scene is notable because it became the legitimate, historical depiction of the storming of the Winter Palace owing to the lack of print or film documenting the actual event, which led historians and filmmakers to use Eisenstein’s recreation. This illustrates October’s success as a propaganda film.
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The film opens with the elation after the February Revolution and the establishment of the Provisional Government, depicting the throwing down of the Tsar’s monument. It moves quickly to point out it’s the “Same old story” of war and hunger under the new Provisional Government, however. The buildup to the October Revolution is dramatized with intertitles marking the dates of events.