We are delighted to offer our readers the article by the outstanding British film scholar Professor Ian Christie. He firmly believes that in this year of commemorating the Russian revolutions of 1917, the role of cinema in bringing a message of revolution deserves to be reviewed. ‘Say Potemkin, and it appears the whole British Army will go down one after another like ninepins’. So wrote the novelist and pioneer film critic Bryher in 1929, poking fun at the British establishment’s hysterical response to the threat posed by importing Sergei Eisenstein’s already notorious film. The Battleship Potemkin would in fact remain banned from public exhibition in Britain until well after World War Two, although this didn’t prevent it being widely shown through trade unions and other Left-wing networks. If anything, the censors’ ban confirmed that Potemkin still had the power to arouse and inspire. When the young Sergei Eisenstein was given a chance to celebrate the anniversary of the failed 1905 revolution, he already had a reputation for provoking audiences with his theatre productions. His first film, The Strike (1925), gave a text-book anatomy of how a factory strike over a worker’s victimisation could escalate to full-scale battle between police and strikers, ending with shocking images that compared the workers’ massacre with an abattoir. After Potemkin, in which the peaceful Odessa crowds are also savagely attacked on the great staircase above the port, Eisenstein described his method as ‘kino-fist’ – contrasting this with Dziga’s Vertov’s observational ‘kino-eye’. Another slogan he used was ‘agit-guignol’, linking the aim of stirring political emotion with the shock tactics of the Parisian theatre famed for its horrific scenes involving torture and mutilation. With his lifelong interest in the mechanisms of emotion, Eisenstein laid the groundwork in his first films for a new kind of cinema that would aim, literally, to mobilise viewers. When Potemkin was accompanied by the pounding rhythms of Edmund Meisel’s orchestral score, specially commissioned for the 1926 German release by a Communist organisation, members of the German armed forces were forbidden to attend for fear of mutiny. It was this rumoured impact of Potemkin that had led the British Home Secretary to assure Parliament that the film would be refused entry, although the founder of the British documentary movement, John Grierson, later confessed that showing it privately to MPs had helped secure the funding for films that would ‘sell’ British products. Eisenstein’s early films, along with those of Pudovkin, Vertov and Dovzhenko, had launched a new kind of cinema that would echo around the world for decades, continuing to inspire new generations of radical filmmakers. The series of films organised by Kino Klassika, ‘A World to Win’, takes its title from Marx and Engel’s manifesto call to revolution. Its aim is to trace the legacy of Soviet filmmakers’ example across 100 years. Between Potemkin and Eisenstein’s commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution itself in October (1928), eight landmark films explore what revolution might mean in very different contexts. Two later Soviet productions reveal the problems that would face Eisenstein’s heirs. I Am Cuba was planned by the Soviet film industry in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution. After its director Mikhail Kalatozov had recently won the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his lyrical ‘Thaw’ story The Cranes Are Flying (1958). Aiming to show the degradation and poverty of life both in Havana and the countryside before 1959, the film is mainly memorable for its stunningly virtuoso camerawork. Scenes set in the sugarcane plantations and among the fleshpots of pre-revolutionary Havana still carry an extraordinary charge, although for many Cubans the film invites charges of revolutionary tourism. Little seen after it was made, the film long had an underground reputation among cineastes; and even if its politics may seem compromised today, its ability to inspire uninhibited filmic expression remains undimmed Beginning of an Unknown Century takes us to the heart of questioning the Bolshevik revolution. Commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of 1917, with Khrushchev recently toppled from power by Brezhnev, it was to consist of three episodes, although only two survive. Based on stories by the controversial writers Yuri Olesha and Andrei Platonov, these are set during the Civil War period, and share a bleak outlook on the new era. In Andrei Smirnov’s Angel, a group of Red partisans in Siberia fall into the hands of a murderous gang, whose charismatic leader grimly takes his revenge. By contrast, Larissa Shepitko’s Homeland of Electricity, shows a bleak Volga landscape where starving villagers wait for the electricity they’ve been promised. Astonishing that such a film could have been made, and totally unsurprising that it was immediately banned. Yet in 1987, Gorbachev’s perestroika allowed it finally to be seen and applauded. If the Soviet intelligentsia was in a reflective mood in the mid-sixties, across the West there were renewed signs of revolt that would come to a head in the strikes and student demonstrations of May ‘68. An early harbinger was Jean-Luc Godard’s surreal Weekend (1967), in which a city couple’s outing to the French countryside first immobilises them in an epic traffic jam, then leads to a series of increasingly bizarre episodes in which they commit murder, and are in turn captured by partisans, before the husband is killed and cooked. Scarcely less surreal was the Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha’s tale of rural banditry, known internationally as Black God White Devil (1964). Filmed in Brazil’s remote sertão, this tells of another couple who become outlaws. But unlike Godard’s bourgeois couple, or Bonnie and Clyde, they fall in with a self-proclaimed saint who is leading a mystical revolt against the landowners. In a handful of fierce films, Rocha brought Brazil’s Cinema Novo to world attention, and sparked awareness of Latin America’s simmering social unrest. In 1970, Godard would feature him in Wind from the East, standing symbolically at a crossroads and pointing the path towards political cinema. Meanwhile, after the right-wing coup that delivered Greece into right-wing military dictatorship in 1966, one of the most effective voices raised against authoritarianism was that of Konstantinos Gavras, then starting his career as a director in France. Although set in an unspecified country, his political thriller Z (1969) effectively dramatized the assassination of a prominent Greek pacifist and sporting hero, Grigoris Lambrakis, and the regime’s attempts to hide their involvement. Starring Yves Montand as the murdered hero, Z won two Oscars and achieved worldwide distribution, launching Costa-Gavras as a major filmmaker committed to exposing human-rights abuse on both the right and the left. Probably the most important modern attempt to trace a nation’s political history was Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic 1900 (Novecento), for which an entire day was set aside at the Cannes film festival in 1976. Starring two of the leading actors of their generation, Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu, this followed the intertwined lives of two Italians born at the beginning of the new century, one as a poor peasant and the other to a landowning family. As the friends’ lives unfold across Italy’s dramatic political trajectory, through the First World War, and then under Fascism, the appeal of Communist opposition becomes increasingly clear, leading to a dramatic confrontation between the two in 1945. With its huge cast and spectacular images, partly inspired by Italian political painting of the early twentieth century, 1900 may never be equalled as a filmmaker’s political credo; and remains a film to be experienced full-size on the screen. When martial law was imposed on Poland in 1981, crushing the Solidarity movement, the country’s great liberal filmmaker, Andrez Wajda found refuge in France, and produced an unusual commentary on the contemporary political situation. Adapting a Polish play about the French Revolution, he cast Depardieu as one of the revolution’s leaders, Danton, and a Polish actor as his rival, Robespierre. Set amid the original ‘reign of terror’, Wajda’s portrayal of the struggle between two visions of ‘revolution’ had obvious resonance in the world of 1983, with Soviet forces backing General Jaruzelski. But it also remains one of the finest portrayals of the French Revolution as a defining moment in modern history, and a model for all subsequent revolutions. In the year when cinema celebrated its official centenary, Britain’s most politically engaged filmmaker, Ken Loach, turned to another defining moment in modern history, the Spanish Civil War, in his Land and Freedom (1995). Following a young English volunteer, who is inspired by film of the Spanish republic’s struggle, Loach and his screenwriter Jim Allen portray both the complexity and the heroism of the civil war. The diagnosis may not differ dramatically from George Orwell’s in ‘Homage to Catalonia’, but for modern audiences in Spain as well as internationally, the film vividly brings alive an episode that would shape later twentieth-century history almost as decisively as the revolutions of 1917. Can film meaningfully portray revolution? This series of screenings accompanies the Royal Academy’s exhibition Revolution: Russian art 1917-1932, which explores the tensions between revolt and repression, liberation and constraint, that are inescapable in all revolutionary dynamics. By the time Eisenstein came to make his ‘official’ commemoration of 1917, October, his interest in the defining event of his own lifetime had shifted towards the idea of revolution itself. Drawing on studies of past revolutions, the film he delivered – late! – in 1928 puzzled many. Why was it not straightforward celebration? Why so much obscure symbolism, drawn from the palaces and museums of Saint Petersburg? There were demands that it should be ‘re-edited’, to make it ‘intelligible to the masses’. But as we reflect on a century of varied attempts to screen revolution, we may appreciate Eisenstein’s refusal to toe any line, except his own… Ian Christie is Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London. Before that he was the Professor of Film Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. A long time expert on Soviet film and author of books on Martin Scorsese, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Professor Christie was also invited as early Soviet film expert to curate the film section at the newly opening exhibition “Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932”. The editorial board of Russian Art and Culture wishes to thank Justine Waddell and KinoKlassika Foundation for making this publication possible.