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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:41 am 

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August 20th

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The Soviet Influence Volume 2: Potemkin / Drifters

Films by Sergei Eisenstein and John Grierson


The second in the BFI's series exploring the influence of silent Soviet classics on British filmmakers of the 1930s. This edition presents one of the classics of world cinema, Sergei Eisentein's 1929 Battleship Potemkin, in High Definition for the first time in the UK, and accompanies it with the world premiere High Definition release of John Grierson's ground-breaking 1929 documentary Drifters.

Drifters premiered at the Film Society on November 10, 1929, on the same bill as Battleship Potemkin, which was receiving its British premiere. Grierson had previously produced an English language version of Eisenstein's film for its American screening and the influence of Eisenstein is clearly revealed in Drifters.

Battleship Potemkin has appeared in every Sight and Sound film poll since 1952 and, in 2010 Empire Magazine voted it the 3rd greatest World Cinema film of all time. Drifters is presented with an all-new score composed by the talented young British musician Jason Singh.


Last edited by Calvin on Sat May 05, 2012 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:10 pm 
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Calvin wrote:
I found this release (surprisingly) engrossing. Has there been any word on a Vol. 2? I was thinking of something like Man with a Movie Camera / Free Cinema movement.

Vol. 2 was on the cards when I was still at the BFI a year ago, but I haven't heard anything since. I think the British feature was going to be Drifters.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:22 pm 
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I'd kill to see Drifters in HD. I hope things are still working out okay. If I remember right the first volume was released around the same time as as the Jennings set so it not being announced yet must mean something is up. Hopefully just materials?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:30 pm 
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I think it's a pretty safe bet that Drifters will emerge in some form - there are no rights issues, the BFI has the relevant materials, and I believe the HD transfer already exists. And it's also a pretty glaring gap in the classic British documentary catalogue, especially after the BFI has been filling in so many others over the last few years.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:12 am
Drifters was first screened at the British premiere of Battleship Potemkin. It wouldn't surprise me (and would rather please me) if the BFI are trying to get the UK home video rights to the most recent restoration of Potemkin (or another Eisenstein at least)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:00 pm 

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The BFI have told me via Twitter that Vol. 2 will be released in August, details to be announced shortly.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:53 pm 

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My thoughts were on the right track - The Soviet Influence: Battleship Potemkin/Drifters will be out sometime between July and September. Presumably August, considering what they told me on twitter.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:10 pm 
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Oh, goodie! The Kino Potemkin can easily be improved upon. Not least of all to get rid of the unnecessary dead frames and have it running at the right speed.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:17 pm 
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This probably won't include Russian intertitles though, will it?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:32 pm 
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I forgot about that with the last release. It would be pretty stupid not to have them though, unless you're insisting that Potemkin is only here as a document of how it influenced British filmmakers and not as one of the greatest films ever in its own right (making its UK Blu-ray debut no less). It's an Eisenstein film after all. You could always go down the seamless branching route.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:42 pm 

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I'd be surprised if the original Russian titles weren't included but Grierson (along with Jack Cohen) created the English titles so I can see a reason for including them too. Grierson also wrote an article on Potenkin, hopefully the BFI will include it.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:57 pm 
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Given that the point of this series is not to showcase the Russian films but to provide context for the British ones, I wouldn't keep your hopes up for the original Russian intertitles being included.
MichaelB wrote:
As I understand the project (based on my knowledge of [the From Turksib to Night Mail release], the contents of a second as yet unannounced one and a chat with the head of BFI DVD Publishing a couple of months ago), the idea is to try to recreate the original atmosphere in which these films were shown in the UK via such organisations as Ivor Montagu's Film Society - so we can get a much better idea of the mechanisms by which a selection of Soviet films (and it was only ever a selection, for obvious logistical reasons) came to have such a profound influence on the British documentary movement.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:01 pm 
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Bear in mind that that post was written the better part of a year ago and I've been completely out of the loop ever since - so I really wouldn't take that as gospel!

I'm trying to find out the actual situation, and will report back as soon as I know.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:31 pm 

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There's definitely a case for both to be included. Grierson would have been familiar with the Russian titles as he co-created the English ones. However, Potemkin used those English titles during its UK premiere double bill with Drifters.

Funnily enough, I've done a bit if research tonight and, according to Grierson, Eisenstein was "very disturbed by the English reviewers who answered the question 'What have we got to learn from the Russians?' with 'Why one of our unknown young fellows has this montage business all sewn up'"!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:38 am 
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I'm not in a position to supply technical details yet, but I can confirm that Battleship Potemkin will definitely have Russian intertitles.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:21 am 
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That's great news. Not that I had too many doubts, as I'm sure they realised it'd be a bit of an own goal to not have them on Potemkin of all films - or any of Eisenstein's films for that matter. Let's just hope that film is ran at the correct speed now!

swo17 wrote:
Given that the point of this series is not to showcase the Russian films but to provide context for the British ones, I wouldn't keep your hopes up for the original Russian intertitles being included.

:oops:


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:28 am 
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TMDaines wrote:
Let's just hope that film is ran at the correct speed now!

The producer may be faced with a tricky decision here - if they're using the same HD master that fuelled the Kino release (which is likely given BFI involvement in that restoration), it may be the case that the re-recorded Edmond Meisel score no longer fits once the framerate has been adjusted. And I strongly doubt that the budget for this project allows for the composition and recording of a new score.

But there may be another way round it - and I can't stress enough that this is all speculative guesswork on my part. (Though the bit about the Russian intertitles isn't!)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:00 am 
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TMDaines wrote:
swo17 wrote:
Given that the point of this series is not to showcase the Russian films but to provide context for the British ones, I wouldn't keep your hopes up for the original Russian intertitles being included.

:oops:

Are you suggesting that I should be embarrassed for remaining cautious in the face of precedent and reality?

In any case, that's great news if this is going to turn out to be a definitive release of Potemkin.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:29 am 
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swo17 wrote:
TMDaines wrote:
swo17 wrote:
Given that the point of this series is not to showcase the Russian films but to provide context for the British ones, I wouldn't keep your hopes up for the original Russian intertitles being included.

:oops:

Are you suggesting that I should be embarrassed for remaining cautious in the face of precedent and reality?

In any case, that's great news if this is going to turn out to be a definitive release of Potemkin.

Considering it took less than 12 hours for your "I wouldn't keep your hopes up" (i.e. no point in hoping) comment to be debunked then I'd say yes, certainly.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:49 am 
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We're both getting what we want (unless you want me to feel embarrassed more than you want a definitive release of Battleship Potemkin). Why are we arguing?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:28 pm 
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You seem to be upset over the loss of face and taking this all to seriously. Relax. :)

It was just a bit of teasing over how quickly your early conclusions were bunked. C'mon now.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:06 pm 
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The only reason I said anything to begin with is that it's unrealistic and potentially damaging to drum up expectations for a forthcoming release based on your own personal preferences as opposed to the realities of the marketplace, even if those expectations will sometimes be met. When I said "don't keep your hopes up," I wasn't ruling anything out. I'd just rather be pleasantly surprised every now and then than frequently disappointed.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:51 pm 
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TMDaines wrote:
swo17 wrote:
Given that the point of this series is not to showcase the Russian films but to provide context for the British ones, I wouldn't keep your hopes up for the original Russian intertitles being included.

:oops:

Are you twelve years old?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:24 pm 
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\:D/ Hooray! I've been waiting for this one for quite a while now!

It seems to be a tricky affair with the varying runtimes of the different prints and its soundtracks, though. I for myself would like to watch the Battleship with the sound of the Pet Shop Boys, but, well ... :-#

Btw, it's not the DVD premiere of Drifters, as there's an old Panamint disc, which assembles Drifters and Harper's Caller Herrin' (I forgot what this was about; fishing, I suppose), which seems to be still available in the UK.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:36 pm 
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20th August


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