La Pantalla Silenciosa #2

La Pantalla Silenciosa #2

Battleship Potemkin (1925) OST by Edmund Miesel

Bronenonsets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin, Russia, 1925) 65’ B/W. Production: Goskino. Directed by Sergei M. Einsenstein. Script: Sergei M. Einsenstein, Nina Agadhanova-Shutko. Photography by Eduard Tisse, V. Popov. Music by Edmund Meisel. Actors: Antonov, Alexondrov, Vladimir Barksy, Levshin, Gomarov, Strauch.

“Sometimes it’s strange that in the issues of practice in the sound film I seem to be the last to reach the goal, at the time of its inauguration I was the youngest of all the directors and now I seem the last one to take part in the work. But on closer inspection it is clear that this is not the case. My first work on sound film was in 1926 and in connection (again!) with Potemkin.

Potemkin, at least in his circulation abroad, had a score written expressly by the composer Edmund Meisel, who had written music for other silent films. This did not have anything of particular, since they are many silent films that have special scores, as well as the music had been used for the filming of some films; for example. Ludwig Berge had filmed Ein Walzertraum on music by Strauss.

But the way in which Potemkin’s score was composed was not so usual anymore, since it was written as we now work in sound films or, rather, as we should always work, in creative friendship and friendly creative collaboration between the composer and the composer. director. This happened in Meisel, despite the short time he had for the composition and how brief the visit to Berlin was to meet him. He immediately agreed to leave aside the purely illustrative function, which was common in the musical accompaniment of that time (and not only that time), and in giving importance to certain “effects”, particularly in the “music of machines”. ” in the last part. My only categorical request was the following: not only to reject the usual melodic music on the level of “Encounter with the squadron” and rely only on a rhythmic repeated sound of percussion, but also to give substance to this request by establishing in the music, the same that in film, a change to a new quality in the structure of sound in the decisive place.

So Potemkin was the film that stylistically transferred the limits of the “silent film with musical illustrations” reaching a new sphere, the sound film, in which the true models of this art form live in a unit fused in musical images and visuals of the work of an auditory-visual image at the same time. It is precisely these elements that, anticipating the potential of an internal substance for the composition of a solomo film, the sequence of “Encuentro con la escuadra” (which together with “Las gradas de Odesa” has caused such a transformative effect in abroad) deserves a prominent place in the anthology of cinema.

It is especially interesting for me that the general construction of Potemkin kept in music everything that drew attention in its pathetic construction, the condition of a qualitative step, which, as we have seen before, was inseparable from the organism of the subject.

The silent Potemkin gives a lesson to the sound film, emphasizing again and again the position that an organic work must be impregnated in all its meanings by a simple construction law, and that not to be something “offstage”, but a an integral part of the film, music must also be governed not only by the same images and themes, but also by the same basic laws and principles of construction that govern the whole of the work.

“I was soon able to do this, to a great degree, in my first sound film, Alexander Newsky, and it was possible to achieve it thanks to the collaboration of such a brilliant and wonderful artist as Sergei Prokofiev (1939)”.

Cinematographic theory and technique, by Sergei M. Eisenstein. Published by Rialp Editions, colection Cinema Books, Madrid, 2002. Página 231 y 232.

“Edmund Meisel, Austrian violinist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, composer for the Deutsches Theater with Max Reinhardt and for Prometheus-Film, wrote music for the German distribution versions of Potemkin and October and for Berlin.”

Symphony of a city, by Walter Ruttmann, Alemania, 1929.   

“The film was banned in many countries, and even in some it managed to manipulate its assembly to prevent it from transmitting its revolutionary message.” Romanian historian Gubern told it: “The Swedish distributor was faced with problems of censorship, which did not As he did not want to lose the investment he had made, he remade the montage, that man took the plans of the execution, of the repression of the officers, and put them in the end, so that the rebellion would not triumph. The Battleship Potemkin was shown in Sweden, it circulated as a counterrevolutionary film, whose moral was that the one who revolts, the palm. “

JOYAS del Cine Mudo, by Vicente Romero. Published on Editorial Complutense, Madrid, June 1996. Page 211.