12. Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
This might be the only film on the list that gets referenced directly(or indirectly) by “Naked Gun 33 1/3“. Please compare to two videos below:
I think the “Naked Gun 33 1/3” version is better personally but you be the judge. While the “Potemkin” version marks a powerful use of montage, and alludes to the oppressive regimes of both Czarist and Communist Russia, I believe the Naked Gun version to present a microcosm of modern American society in under 2 minutes.
Firstly you have the police presented as being overwhelmed by the problems of modern society. Whether it be general public safety(represented by the babies), whether it be homeland security(the president and/or the terrorist), or simply organized crime(the mobsters), the police are shown to be an ineffective in the face of increasingly diverse problems.
Secondly you have the war on terror being depicted in graphic detail. A suicide bomber is gunned down, which gives the audience some comfort, but think how close he got to the president and the pope. The filmmakers clearly recognized that danger was near, and next time we might not be so lucky.
Thirdly you have the disgruntled postal workers who can be seen to represent the middle and lower classes (and perhaps their economic struggles). As the comfort of middle class life erodes, and as people become increasingly alienated from their surroundings and from the American dream they are shown to react violently as a means of lashing out at the perceived injustices they have suffered. The recent wave of random shootings can be seen as evidence of this.
Fourthly you have O.J. Simpson as both a representative of racial turmoil and the failing legal system. One might even argue he is also a symbol of the silent epidemic of domestic violence. All this and we haven’t even touched on the Mexican migrant worker or the Pope.
So in the span of 2 minutes we have seen astute commentary about the police, public safety, homeland security, the war on terror, illegal immigration, race relations, domestic abuse, the Catholic church, the economy, the justice system and class warfare. Beat that Potemkin!
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film a 7/10, primarily because the ‘Odessa Steps’ sequence from which the “baby carriage” scene is taken is as powerful as anything ever put to film. The rest of the movie isn’t very good mainly because it’s slow and the acting is pretty over the top. But the Odessa steps sequence is highly recommended. As a treat to the several Arcade Fire fans who read this blog(you know who you are), here is the film in abbreviated music video form: