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Remember, proletarians!
Steffi_P2 March 2007
Russian master Sergei Eisenstein's first feature film is a tour-de-force of cinematic technique. He appears to have a pretty speedy learning curve, beginning straight away with a picture that is confidently crafted and extremely watchable even today.

With the exception of Que Viva Mexico (which he made outside Russia), this is Eisenstein's purest film, the one most free from the constraints of the Bolshevik propaganda machine. There is one mention of the Bolsheviks, but it's inconsequential. This is essentially a film about self-organisation of the workers – a placeless and timeless story which acts as a case study in how a strike can begin, how it can be made successful and how it can be defeated.

Strike has an incredibly exhilarating pace to it and, aside from its political message works as a pure action film. Perhaps unusually for a debut film, this is also the closest Eisenstein came to making a comedy. In a style that would mark all his films, he characterises the villains of the piece – the factory management, police chiefs and government bureaucrats – as exaggerated and often ridiculous figures of fun. The factory owner is the stereotypical capitalist – a top hat-wearing fat controller.

As usual with early Soviet cinema, Strike is essentially characterless. The story is told through the masses, and the proletariat as a whole is the hero. Eisenstein was ideally suited to this, as even in this early film he gives an unprecedented realism to the crowd scenes, and uses every technique at his disposal to create drama from mass action. Eisenstein also demonstrates early on that he has the rather unusual talent of directing large groups of people being massacred. It's an image that would crop up in nearly all of his films.

The only real weakness of Strike is that it too often slips into pretentiousness. Some of the techniques are little more than showing off. There are just a few too many superimpositions and mirror images shots. The symbolism is also often a little too heavy-handed and abstract – the two kids dancing on the table during the interrogation scene certainly baffles me; god knows what the Russian public made of it.

Eisenstein is often described as a pioneer, a founding father of film technique. However, in truth most of the techniques he used had been developed earlier, in particular by D.W. Griffith. It's just that Eisenstein pushed the possibilities of editing to their extreme. He's more of a maverick than a pioneer, as there really has been no-one like him since. Having said that, I can identify three new uses of the editing process that Eisenstein invented with Strike.

Firstly, he often uses a sequence of similar shots to give the impression of the same action being done by lots of people. For example, three shots of tools being thrown to the ground tells us quickly and effectively, in the context of the scene, that the entire workforce is downing tools. Secondly, he edits rhythmically to punctuate action. For example, a quick, dynamic action like someone throwing a punch or a door slamming shut will be punctuated by a film cut, giving it much more impact. This is particularly effective in silent film, as the jarring cuts mean you can almost hear the action in your head.

The third editing technique debuted here was the most abstract and the least influential. Whereas Griffith would edit back and forth between two or more literally related scenes (for example, between someone in trouble and someone coming to rescue them) to build up tension, Eisenstein edits back and forth between unrelated images to create a metaphor. The well-known example of this in Strike is the cutting from the workers being gunned down to shots of cattle being slaughtered – the cattle dying is nothing to do with the plot, but it makes a point. It's a clever idea, but one that was rarely imitated as it breaks up the flow of a film's narrative.

On a totally different note, a little hobby of mine is spotting modern day look-alikes in old films, and Strike has one of my favourites. The king of the beggars is a dead ringer for Shane MacGowan, right down to the missing teeth. Amazing.

Strike has to be one of the most remarkable and mould-breaking debut films of all time. It's not quite up to the level of masterpiece yet, but it's an incredible experience and genuinely gripping entertainment.
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Interesting, With Some Memorable Imagery
Snow Leopard2 September 2004
Sergei Eisenstein's "Strike", like his more well-known films, is interesting and contains some memorable imagery. The story is worthwhile in itself, and it repays careful attention because of the considerable detail that is shown using Eisenstein's distinctive approach. It lacks any particularly interesting characters, but then, so did "Battleship Potemkin". Only an occasional lack of polish sets this apart from Eisenstein's later films.

The story starts with the situations that provoke the strike, and then follows developments on both sides of the dispute. It becomes surprisingly involved for what seems at first to be a simple confrontation. There is quite an assortment of situations, settings, and characters. On occasion, the images are overdone, occasionally even off-putting, but you can already see the creative use of imagery that Eisenstein would later use so effectively.

"Strike" will probably be of interest mainly to those who already appreciate Eisenstein's films, but it is worth seeing. It is really only a cut below "Potemkin", which itself, though generally the most-praised of his films, might actually be surpassed by some of his later works. In any case, "Strike" displays the same kind of style, and has several of the characteristics of the fine classics that were to come.
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An agitprop, art and directorial age-defining work.
Leonardo_poppes31 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Highly Recommended

Strike was the first film of one of the early masters of cinema, Sergei Eisenstein, of the Russian formalist school. This film as a debut is as important as Citizen Kain by Welles, both featuring novel directorial methods. This film captures the soul in the world of pre-dictatorship Russia, portraying it in utmost experimentation with inter-cutting, expanded time sequences, editing and most especially, his montage techniques.

The story itself is basic in plot, yet of great magnitude in theme: the exploitation of hard workers by the lazy cigar-smoking bourgeoisie. The story is set in a pre-dictatorship town where, in a industrial factory, a man is accused of stealing a micrometer. The man, though innocent, is to be fired so he commits suicide out of escape from the stigma of being a thief, leaving a note behind to his fellow comrades declaring his innocence and also some deplorative statements about the ruling class. This sets off a few other incidents which lead to the inevitable slaughter of the workers at the hands of the police.

This film, though not tied together in as much unity as Battleship Potemkin(1925), with it's consistency of technique, purpose and vision, still shows unique signs of an original director and thinker of cinema, who was not concerned about the straight material that the camera received, but how it changes through a formulation process into parallel images, hieroglyphic symbols and conceptions themselves. Though living in the USSR and his themes being 'communist', or agitprop in nature, his techniques often surpass his material and make for necessary viewing to anyone who is a film buff, directorial hope-to-be-er, Russian historian or, activist.

A superb piece of theme depiction, directorial work, agitprop and art in general.
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The most watchable and least problematic of Eisenstein's masterpieces.
alice liddell24 February 2000
Eisenstein's most purely enjoyable film, possibly because the theorems are more lifelike. In many ways a comedy, as the villains (military, police, factory owners, underworld scabs) are caricatured and dehumanised, which makes the eventual horrors all the more shocking. The workers are, of course, idealised, but their paradise of laziness seems odd for a Communist work.

Montage is the thing, as ever with Eisenstein, both in terms of connecting images to create startling insights, and in making tense, exciting and inevitable the action; but there is an astonishing attention to compositional detail too, most haunting perhaps being the empty, abandoned, impotent, machine-heavy factories, or the vast-stepped drawing rooms of the bloated capitalists.
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eibon0919 October 2000
It takes place during the 1912 Factory Strike in Russia. This was the brilliant debut of Sergei Eisenstein which introduced the idea of montage. Done before Potemkin, Stachka/Strike(1925) is a film about the struggle of the working class against the Tsar. The film showed of things to come for the career of Eisenstein. This was to be part of a series of films concerning the events that led to the 1917 Revolution. He shows the working class as the main protagonist in Strike. Was co-written by frequent co-writer Grigori Aleksandrov.

Stachka and Battleship Potemkin would be the only films in which Eisenstein would have complete artistic control. Like Potemkin, it also features a grand massacre sequence. Eisenstein's direction is nothing short of first class. October(1927) can be looked upon as a sequel to Strike. The images of this is an example of why the silent period was the last truly great era of visual filmmaking. Strike would be the first of many great movies from a master artist. A fine scene is the superimposition of a slaughtered bull over a scene of massacred workers.
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Such a great made movie!
Boba_Fett113828 July 2007
This is an impressive looking piece of Communists propaganda, that glorify the common worker, from Russian movie-making pioneer Sergei M. Eisenstein.

It's one of Eisenstein's first movies, which also means that he was experimenting a lot in the movie, with many different compositions and with fantastic fast editing that give the movie pace and make the sequences more exciting. Some of the sequences are highly creative and artistic looking, with great cinematography and camera-angels. It makes "Stachka" real eye-candy to watch. It's a real innovative movie and by watching it you realize that there was a real craftsman at work. It's an absolutely brilliantly directed movie!

Of course if you're looking for a movie with a good story and compelling characters, look further. The movie itself is pretty simple with its story and uses deliciously stereotypical characters, such as the capitalistic, fat, cigar smoking and drinking factory owners. The movie uses so many stereotypes that the movie intentionally also works out as an humorous movie. It's very welcome, since the movie in general in its story is very serious and tries to send out a message.

The story is perhaps easier to follow than in most other Eisenstein movies. It's a very simple story that on paper sounds to weak and uninteresting to fill a 90+ movie with. Yet the movie never bores and always remains interesting and 'enjoyable' to follow, also not in the least thanks to the rapid editing that makes sure none of the sequences go on for too long and allow the sequences to speak for itself, rather then relying on the actors their performances or title-cards.

An essential viewing for movie-lovers!

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Movie Odyssey Review #012: Strike
Cyke24 July 2006
012: Strike (1925) - released in Russia 4/28/1925; viewed 8/4/05

A law is passed in Tennessee prohibiting the teaching of evolution. The Great Tri-State Tornado tears through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby.

BIRTHS: Rod Steiger, George Cole, Eugen Weber.

KEVIN: Sergei Eisenstein's debut feature Strike was something else entirely. Every single frame of this film from the shots, the editing, the lighting, the over-the-top performances and even the themes were beyond anything we've seen so far. People must have thought Eisenstein was crazy to make films the way he did, especially on his first feature. With the kind of imagery he put on the screen, it must have been hard for his film crews to keep up with his mind. This film definitely has an underdog quality that would continue into Eisenstein's future films, most notably Potemkin. This film does have a gritty sense of reality, even though the characters are fairly two-dimensional and over-the-top. The way the camera moves with the close-ups and the very sharp focus is incredibly unique for the period, as are the kinds of harrowing images that we see over the course of the story. Here we see things happening, like the rioters being sprayed with fire hoses and the cops dropping babies off balconies, that other directors like Griffith or Murnau would never have the guts to shoot.

DOUG: It would be silly to watch all these silent films and not watch anything from Eisenstein. It is clear right from the start that he was doing things on film that no other filmmaker had dreamed of doing. The look of the shots, the lighting, the angles, the way the camera moves, and of course the editing, all of it is very unique for the time, and in fact looks very modern. Many scenes could be filmed shot-for-shot today, in color, with sound, and they would not look the slightest bit old fashioned. The editing is quite unique; Eisenstein recognized that editing could be used as stylistically as the writing or the directing to tell the story and set the mood, and used it thus in virtually all of his films. I noticed a few similarities to Potemkin, like the citizens rising up to battle the oppressive government. Eisenstein seems to have been interested in showing the steadfast camaraderie unique among the working class of Russia (perhaps it was a Communist thing). The music in this version was quite memorable; I kept on thinking of the band Stomp, who perform songs by banging trashcan lids and broom handles. There are cues in the musical score that are meant to work as sound effects.

Last film: Seven Chances (1925). Next film: The Gold Rush (1925).

The Movie Odyssey is an exhaustive, chronological project where we watch as many milestone films as possible, starting with D.W. Griffith's Intolerance in 1916 and working our way through, year by year, one film at a time. We also write a short review for each film before we watch the next, never reading the other's review before we finish our own. In this project, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the time period, the films of the era, and each film in context, while at the same time just watching a lot of great movies, most of which we never would have watched otherwise.
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The working, collective eye
chaos-rampant22 August 2011
More so with the Soviets than with any other film school, we need to resupply the context. The image reigns supreme but not in ways we may understand today, as aesthetic accomplishment or space for contemplation. It is about immediate understanding as formed in the eye so that narrative - the tool by which the Czarist or the bourgeois wrote history, thus a suspicious element - is bypassed, the eye and not the mind is thus tasked to construct. Meant to instruct ideological fervor in a generally unsophisticated audience, these films, propaganda we call them now, stirred into action, not thought. This was in tacit understanding with Marxist principles, that demanded history be foremostly changed than understood.

Change; action; seeing. This is the causal chain the Soviets immersed themselves in, looking for the keys that guide vision.

So, these people eventually grew to know more about the mechanisms that control the image than any other group of people anywhere else in history. They were theoreticians, scientists of film, as well as the actual makers; a now extinct combination, much to our dismay. Eisenstein - and Vertov - were key figures; I mean, here was a man who studied Japanese ideograms to understand synthesized image; who discovered that editing to the beats of the human heart affected more.

So, we are talking about a reflexive cinema, about rhythm as opposed to melody. It's just as well with these films that the narrative content is pretty much discarded by now, even though the agitprop often agitated in the right direction; or have we forgotten that workers, at some point, were truly horribly exploited and that the 8-hour workshift was a bloody struggle? But, being able to quickly sift through caricatures - the fat, capitalist factory owner, the well-groomed, pigheaded stockholders slobbering on their fat cigars - and process the easy distinctions between collective good and the individual selfishness, means we can concentrate on rhythm. On how these thin caricatures that should have been harmless, yet are charged with a power that moves and affects.

It's about the mechanisms that control the image; it is a unique opportunity to have this film, it shows the very image being controlled. The end of the first part, with the shot of huge factory machinery whirring into motion as already the uprising is being set into motion; and later, the hand of the cruel stockholder superimposed over the crowd of strikers, clutching, controlling.

Eisenstein is so adept in his touch that the film is, at times, action, comedy, chamber drama, detective film, policier, paean, sobering catastrophe.

The most amazing sequence; we are with the strikers in an outdoors gathering, as the leader is laying down their demands, yet immediately transported to the lavish mansion of the stockholders as they read them with anger; there is some talk and eventually, satisfied, gleeful, they break out the drinks, an intertitle informs us of their answer to the demands, a polite, civilized refusal 'after careful consideration', while immediately the mounted police is storming the outdoors camp.

It is a stunning display of cinema, how time and space are contorted to accommodate for our passage through and yet the result is a dialectic between images as eminently designed for the eye - not the mind. We see, ergo we know - and are.
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The future is not done by memory but with imagination
Dr_Coulardeau8 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This title is bad. It should be THE strike, but they translated word for word and in Russian they do not have articles. It gives to the title an abstract look or feel that is not at all what the film is about. In fact the film is just the contrary. It is purely concrete, pragmatic, in no way reflexive or trying to analyze and understand that brutality in the repression of a strike that started before even having an objective or a reason. This brutality is in many ways typical of some periods in the history of the industrialization of our countries, Russia, the USA or Western Europe. It stopped or became more limited when the leaders and managers, both politicians and economic bosses, understood that this violence was menacing the establishment in the long run far more than some compromises along the way. What is surprising is how Eisenstein in 1924, at the end of the war communism of the civil war and at the beginning of the New Economic Policy of Lenin who was on the brink of dying, some kind of delayed assassination, painted a world that was cut in two, and nothing else but these two. And far away from Mayakovski or the other poets of that time, all of them militants and committed to the revolution, he depicts a situation in which there is no culture, no mind, no humanism, no nothing, especially not any thinking. All is shown as being primary, physical, at the simple level of instincts and senses, on both sides. The workers go on strike because they feel dissatisfied but they don't know why. It is an urge in them to do it and any reason is good enough to start and then to force everyone, and I insist on this "force", to get into the strike with violence of course and that working class violence is natural, isn't it? On the side of the bosses it is not better, but it is not worse either. It is just pure refusal because their instinct is to say no. They are in no way different from their workers. The police and army are even worse because they enjoy using violence. They have no humaneness, no sense that they are from the people, no patriotism that would mean some feeling, some sentiment, or some recollection that they were born from the people, among the people, in the people, as members of the people. That vision is so extreme that we do not feel any sympathy or compassion for that kind of discourse. But yet, and the first part seems to go that way, I just wonder if Eisenstein did not make it all a charade, a grotesque farce, or even a monstrous carnival. He uses his camera so well that he is able to concentrate on masses of people instead of individuals or faces. Few close-up shots but a lot of moving, running crowds, his specialty, and it is that focusing on these movements that make the discourse funny, unreal, surreal, surrealistic even. Was Eisenstein already seeing the new master of the USSR coming up to take over? Was Stalin a haunting ghost in this film? Was Eisenstein making that caricature of history in order to make people think? I doubt it very much. He used all his genial art and competence with a camera and an editing bench to fascinate the crowds who were discovering the cinema, the magic of electricity and the new media in order to make them politically supportive of the revolution. He could not even be considered as naive since he shows very well that all starts from a minority that manages to push along or force the working class into action. Then the rest is nothing but stubbornness and there is only one resistance to the hardships of such a period and it comes from women, and men are obliged to force them down into obedience to their will. All I say there is going against the grain of that Soviet revolution, and that is why I say Eisenstein was doing what he had to do but at the same time was keeping a tongue in his cheek. What happen to that tongue had to come later, but he did not forget to put one of his Solomon's numbers in the film with six geese strutting around in that factory.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID
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While dated today, back in 1925 it was way ahead of its time.
MartinHafer6 June 2012
"Strike" is a film about an actual workers' strike in Russia in 1903. Ultimately, the strike ended when troops massacred the strikers--one of many events that worked towards toppling the Czar's regime.

I would think that most folks watching "Strike" today would find the film very outdated and even a bit dull. They would also find the symbolism very, very obvious--sort of like 'sledgehammer' symbolism. Now I am NOT saying it's a bad film. In fact, it was VERY much ahead of its time when it debuted--with lots of inventive camera angles. It also was very effective propaganda--a film that helped to solidify the validity of the new Soviet regime. But film has changed a lot since 1925 and the film lacks subtlety that good propaganda would have today. But at the time, it did help to solidify public support behind the Communist government.

By the way, if you watch this film and Eisenstein's more famous film, "Potemkin", you'll see LOTS of similarities--especially when the czarist troops attack the people. Even the crying baby is present in both films--and both have to do with citizens going on strike and refusing to accept the status quo.
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Light years Ahead
abigmuff14 September 2005
The first thing you notice about Eisenstein's Strike is its modern feel. Even a simple glance will reveal hundreds of images and techniques that are still being used today; notice how the introduction of characters like The Owl and The Fox mirror similar introductions in films like Ocean's Eleven or even Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Notice the amazing photography that constantly adds an undercurrent of dark humour to the narrative, notice also the unsentimental editing that creates dialectical meaning from juxtaposition of disturbing images - a slaughtered cow, the vanquished strikers, a dead baby, the greed of the bourgeoisie.

Battleship Potempkin was popular with the Stalinist regime because its lack of formalism, there was little in it to fool a dim witted censor. Itserved a purpose first, an aesthetic ideal second - the same can not be said for Strike that is as visually exciting as it is politically interesting. At times it resembles Lang and the German Expressionists with its moving sculptures of factories and machinery and at others it resembles Eisenstein at his realist best. Think of the Odessa steps directed by Murnau and you get somewhere near the idea.

Strike is a black film that is made blacker by comic scenes of the harshness of pre-Revolutionary Russian life and there are dancing bears too!
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A visual wonder, a dramatic masterpiece
jagfx27 June 2000
Never in a silent picture have I seen political issues juxtaposed with astonishing camera work to the effect seen here. Eisenstein has created a moving work with breathtaking surrealist images. The end result is a sincerely affecting piece of drama and a palette of images far ahead of its time.

A must-see. A masterpiece.
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Polemical But Involving
Theo Robertson18 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In STRIKE Eisensein glorifies the noble downtrodden worker against the greedy , uncaring capitalist rulers . From the very first opening scene of the film he uses the concept of typage where the ruling director is portrayed as being overweight and well dressed lazily reclining in a comfortable chair . Right from the opening shot it's obvious whose side Eisenstein wants the audience to take . Later on we see more stockholders and the audience are told in the inter-titles that " Their thrones rest on the labour of the workers " . As the workers strike one of the ring leaders proclaims " We have no cowards or traitors among us . We will stand by our demands till the end " . The end being Tsarist police attacking the protesting workers , sending a toddler falling to its death while the action is inter-cut with a laughing police chief against the back drop of dead strikers massacred by the Tsarist police

All this can be criticised as seeing the world as black and white , but let's be honest here: When was the last time you watched an American film where the concept of good and bad have been blurred ? Seeing as the " bad guys " won you could say that it's not very entertaining but as the director himself said film should not be used as entertainment this makes him something of an auteur and did you know Russians don't like stories with a happy ending ?

Perhaps not as good as POTEMKIN this is still a landmark of cinema . You might not agree with the politics but I'm sure we can all agree that it's a technically superb piece of film making
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Inventive Propaganda
RobertF8715 February 2004
This film is definitely a piece of political propaganda on behalf of Communism. However, whether or not you agree with the film's politics or with propaganda in general, it is an important work in the history of cinema.

Sergei Eisenstein was one of the greatest film-makers of the silent era. His theories of film editing and "montage" (juxtaposing different images to heighten dramatic or emotional impact) give the film it's impact.

The film's story deals with a strike by the workers of a Russian factory in 1912. It's told through striking images, camera angles and, sometimes excessive symbolism.

This film is a must-see for anyone studying film or interested in the history of world cinema.
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Incredibly stylish debut from the King of Montage
tomgillespie200221 July 2011
In the Soviet Union in 1903, the workers of a factory are tired of poor wages, hard living, and harsh treatment by their superiors. Talk of a strike is rife, and when one innocent worker is accused of theft, he hangs himself on the production line and unwittingly becomes a martyr. The strike is decided, and the workers gather in masses to discuss their terms. Meanwhile, the fat cats upstairs are in uproar that the strike has been called, and employ a number of secret agents with animal code names to infiltrate, brutalise and spy on the strikers. As the workers begin to fight amongst themselves, the bosses tactics become increasingly brutal, especially when the police are called in.

Sergei Eisenstein is one of the Soviet Union's greatest ever filmmakers, and arguably one the world's greatest. This was his first feature-length film (he made The Battleship Potemkin later that year, one of the best and most influential films ever made) and his trickery and style is awe- inspiring, given his inexperience and the fact that cinema was still in its early stages. The most effective technique Eisenstein plays is in the early scenes, where he juxtaposes different animals with the key players (Eisenstein was known as the 'King of Montage'). For example, there is an owl, always watching, thinking and cunning, turning into a wild-eye spy; a fox, misleadingly beautiful and sly, becoming a shapeshifting and handsome con-artist - and dancing bears, that portray the workers. The use of this is at its most powerful at the end, when the police move in to overthrow the strike, cut with scenes of a cow having its throat cut, blood gushing out of its wound as it slowly dies.

It's an incredibly stylish piece for its day and moves along at an alarming pace, even when compared to some films today. It never slows down to develop any characters, instead using its revolutionary and Communist themes to play the main role, with the characters being mere pawns in a more important overlying theme. It's clear where Eisenstein's stance is, which does also work against the film. The factory bigwigs are no more than faceless fat men in expensive suits, drinking champagne and smoking cigars all day, laughing at the misfortune of the workers. There is also a scene where one wipes his shoes clean with the workers wage demands. By today's standards, it seems a bit stereotypical, and the metaphors quite obvious. But this is an alarmingly stylish debut from a truly great film-maker, that is both exciting, and come the end, really quite shocking.
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This is more than a film about communist idealism
krusty_the_baker5 February 2006
I saw this film with live music accompaniment, which added hugely to it. But the thing which most struck me was the similarity with the 1980s miners strike in Britain, also a strike which became drawn around ideologies; the miners understood that their industry was under threat, but their leader Arthur Scargill would not hold a ballot and make it a legal strike because that would be to play by the Government's rules; and Margaret Thatcher's government, which was determined to do away with a coal industry that had become the last major bastion of organised labour, and so stockpiled coal in preparation for provoking the strike. Tremendous civil violence, with armoured riot police beating unarmed and unprotected pickets, murder of working miners, and other horrors, was the result, and divisions which over twenty years on have not healed; the politicisation of the police was one consequence, and the British now face a major energy crisis as natural gas was used as a cheap means to quickly subvert and make redundant the union movement, rather than being a managed resource.

So to say this film is of historic importance only is shallow - this is a tragic film, and it is a story which will not go away from human existence.
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Propaganda masterpiece
SenjoorMutt13 December 2015
'Strike' is debut film of great Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. Though the film suffers from inexperience (very uneven pace and tone compared to much more masterful 'Potemkin') of Eisenstein 'Strike' is probably the greatest silent era debut. The film is too preachy and evil capitalist are maybe too cartoonish, but what else do you expect from propaganda film. Put propaganda aside, Eisenstein managed to depict forever going class conflicts with adding humanity into mix (the sweet scene where the little kid tries to wake up his father in the morning). Also Eisenstein very early cleverly starts to hint to oncoming doom into striking workers are heading until famous final sequence where strike is violently suppressed is cleverly cross-cut with cattle being slaughtered. 'Strike' is a cinematic masterpiece that is unfortunately also the propaganda Picture.
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Early Soviet Film At Its Finet
gavin694213 June 2013
In Russia's factory region during Czarist rule, there's restlessness and strike planning among workers; management brings in spies and external agents. When a worker hangs himself after being falsely accused of thievery, the workers strike.

This was Eisenstein's first full-length feature film, and he would go on to make "The Battleship Potemkin" later that year. While the follow-up is certainly Eisenstein's best (and indeed one of the all-time great films of the silent era), his debut is nothing to sneeze at.

We have some very clever comparisons between people's traits and animals (the fox, the owl, the monkey) and later on a comparison between workers and a herd of cattle. The whole thing is not just politically charged (pro-Soviet, pro-Bolshevik) but saturated with symbolism.
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thisissubtitledmovies1 September 2010
Silhouettes of workers and machinery glide across the screen as we witness their daily routine. Set in Russia during tsarist rule, "discontent is spreading," and we are greeted with the stereotypical suited and booted manager puffing on a fat cigar. He has brought in spies and double agents to survey workers as tensions arise.

An ensemble piece, Strike focuses upon the masses as opposed to individual characters. Similarly to Battleship Potemkin, also featured in Essential Eisenstein Vol 1, innocents (mostly children) being caught up in the violent mix are depicted yet in fleeting moments; a stark contrast to the lingering scenes upon the Odessa steps in Battleship Potemkin in which a mother's distress is seen alongside the images of her child in danger. It is a stark reminder from Eisenstein that future generations are the ones who suffer most in times of strife, yet, hauntingly, they too will grow and fill a place in society which, depending on their ancestor's actions, could start the ball rolling all over again.
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Workers of the world, unite ! (rental)
leplatypus9 June 2018
After the childish interlude of Brown of Harvard, in which 1920 America seems to ignore workers fate while being the biggest capitalist country, i'm back to this subjet after Metropolis and this time in CCCP ! I really expected this old movie to be dull, slow, endless and finally, it's a terrific one and the explanation lies with its director, amazing Eisenstein ! His ideas for movies and visual inspiration put him as the best directors ever : he displays cinema tools and language that are still modern, witty and gives soul and heart to something really dark and oppressive. In a way, i felt a bit like in Spielberg Schindler List!

This soviet movie nearly invents the super heroes (the informers), the live photos (as in Harry Potter), the subliminal editing (slaughterhouse / police repression) and the scenes are really classic : the flow of strikers that get loose looks like the Fukushima tsunami, the evil capitalists look like twisted Rich uncle Pennybags from Monopoly game. Even the factory looks frightening and nightmarish with its dark and dangerous workshops, its huge metallic beasts...

For sure, we can say that the story is as black ad white as the pictures but you can find at last a clear, strong built story that says something faraway of the today soup.

Indubitabely, the movie help to think as a citizen and a human being and one of its value is that it explains that Work doesn't make men free !
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Michael_Elliott28 February 2008
Strike (1925)

*** (out of 4)

Sergei Eisenstein's debut is one of the most heavy handed political movies I've ever seen. After a co-workers suicide due to the management's stupid ways, factor workers go on strike, which leads to a battle with the owners as well as the police. Visually speaking this film is quite untouchable and remains one of the greatest looking films ever created. The final showdown with the police has hundreds if not thousands of extras and looks incredible. Very little dialogue is used and instead the director lets the images do the talking. However, the story tries to force its message down our throats so many times that you can't help but to become fed up with the whole thing. The director goes as far as to show police throwing babies off the roof of buildings and animal lovers should be warned that several cows are slaughtered on screen to show what is also happening to the people. This is just as big a propaganda piece as such films as Triumph of the Will but like that film, there's no denying the visual beauty.
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Why I think Strike does not work
thao7 November 2006
I think Strike is over rated. Yes it has beautiful scenes, excellent framing and some quite nice editing, not to mention a fantastic ending. The last 20 min. are awesome. But sadly that's not enough. The main problem is:

1) It is way to preachy. The message is hammered in, again and again. 2) The humor is tasteless and out of tune with the whole film. 3) Many of the trick shots don't serve much purpose and are therefore distracting. 4) Some scenes are way to long, for example the introduction of the spies. 5) The story gets lost in all the symbolism. 6) Black and white pictures of people. Everyone is ether good or bad. Nothing in between.

But all this is very understandable considering that this is his first film. Those unfamiliar to Eisenstein should rather begin with The Battleship Potemkin.
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Artistic and still relevant
gbill-748771 December 2018
A film which makes the case for communism, depicting capitalists as the wealthy few who exploit the masses, and the inevitable reaction to the conditions of the industrial revolution. Put more softly, it makes the case for organized labor, and for workers to utilize their strength in numbers in order to get more humane and equitable conditions - e.g. a living wage, and for children to not be exploited. At the time the film was made, during the softer period of the NEP, communism was still in an idealistic phase, one which did not foresee the disastrous reign of Stalin or the complete loss of freedom under authoritarian rule. It can be thought of as State propaganda, but the message is still highly relevant, particularly as the oligarchies seem to be the way of the world, and the wealth gap is so large.

I liked this film for its artistic imagery and frenetic pace, both of which feel modern. Director Sergei Eisenstein uses shadows, reflections, interesting camera angles and framing, fast cuts, and tight shots on facial reactions which humanize the workers (and of course dehumanize the bosses). There is a lot of style and creativity here, for example, four pictures in a photo album turning into live actors, the way the machinery of the factory is shown, and shooting into a puddle and through a glass globe. There is also a ton of kinetic energy - it's a rousing film and a call to action, and the direction and editing matches that. There isn't an individual story but that's the point, the film is about collectivism. On the other hand, as the film goes on, a lot of the activity is with the mob running here and there, which is a little less interesting. I didn't like how graphic the cow slaughter scene was, and the authorities killing a baby was not only extreme but also an unfortunate way of demonizing them. Overall though, very interesting, and a great window into an important historical movement.
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Cinema at is finest
Lievalle1 August 2018
Sometimes after you watched a classic movie you feel the duty to like it, to convince you that you enjoyed the silent classic as you enjoy modern movies. The reality is that sometimes if you are interested in movie you watch movies because you "have to", but after the vision, even if you understand their historical importance, you don't "get" them. But this movie is not one of those for me. I enjoyed every second of it, every frame. The art and the thoeries of eisenstein were so modern that felt like the movie was released yesterday.

Talking about the plot, in my modest opinion in this movie you really see a different concept of cinema. This is an alternative way of doing movies, no star, basic plot and only one real character: the struggle of the people. Of course this may appear as simple propaganda to many viewers, but this wouldn't discredit the art behind a movie, art is expressing ideas and this movie express an idea in the most artistic way possible.
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One of the most fascinating and important films of silent cinema
antoniocasaca12317 May 2018
I was very surprised by this movie, it is way ahead of its time. Exceptional photography, visually stunning and original images for the time, absolutely brilliant set-up, brutally strong scenes, everything is an amazing experience in this film, especially for those who are familiar with the cinema of the 20s. Of the Sergei Eisenstein still had only seen the "BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN "which is a very good film, also political, with the same theme of oppression over the working classes, but I still find this" STRIKE "even more innovative. There are no protagonists among the workers strike, these are presented as if they were a single character, reinforcing the message of the film that the important thing is the collective and not the individual. Already factory administrators and spies are purposely presented as individuals, they represent evil. It all has to do with the quote from Lenin that passes at the beginning of the film. Although it is a work with a strong propaganda content of the Leninist and Communist ideals, it is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and important films of silent cinema and the very history of cinema.
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