See the moving picture


Point of View in the Political Spectacle

La Révolution en Russe (Mutiny on a Man-of-War in Odessa/Revolution in Odessa)

Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé-Frères, France, 1905

Although this sequence certainly caters to an audience’s desire for onscreen spectacle, its “meaning” is unambiguous if we focus on its effort to present its action narratively. A battleship arrives at the Russian port of Odessa just as Cossacks are violently repressing proletarian protests in the streets. In (1), a Czarist officer aboard the ship surveys the onshore events, and the masked point-of-view shot in (2) shows us what he sees. We cut back to the ship, which fires on the retreating civilians in support of the Cossacks, while the officer uses his telescope to monitor the effect of the ship’s barrage (3). Zecca then uses a dissolve to make the next transition to the officer’s point of view (4), which reveals the triumph of the Cossacks over the helpless protestors (5). In (6), we get the officer’s jubilant response to the outcome of events onshore.

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