October: Ten Days That Shook the World

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Ten Days That Shook the World
Octyabr poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Grigori Aleksandrov
Sergei Eisenstein
Written by Grigori Aleksandrov
Sergei Eisenstein
Starring Vladimir Popov
Vasili Nikandrov
Music by Dimitri Shostakovich
Cinematography Vladimir Nilsen
Vladimir Popov
Eduard Tisse
Release dates 20 January 1928 (USSR)
2 November 1928 (New York City only)
Running time 104 min (Sweden)
95 min (USA)
Country Soviet Union
Language Silent film
Russian (original intertitles)
October: Ten Days That Shook the World

October: Ten Days That Shook the World (Russian: Октябрь (Десять дней, которые потрясли мир); translit. Oktyabr': Desyat' dney kotorye potryasli mir) is a 1928 Soviet silent propaganda film by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, sometimes referred to simply as October in English. It is a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution. The title is taken from John Reed's book on the Revolution, Ten Days That Shook The World.


  • Vladimir Popov — Aleksandr Kerensky
  • Vasili Nikandrov — Vladimir I. Lenin
  • Layaschenko — Konovalov
  • Chibisov — Skobolev
  • Boris Livanov — Terestsenko
  • Mikholyev — Kishkin
  • N. Podvoisky — Bolshevik
  • Smelsky — Verderevsky
  • Eduard Tisse — German Soldier
  • Yuri Sazonov — Munist


October was one of two films commissioned by the Soviet government to honour the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution (the other was Vsevolod Pudovkin's The End of St. Petersburg). Eisenstein was chosen to head the project due to the international success he had achieved with The Battleship Potemkin in 1925. Nikolai Podvoisky, one of the troika who led the storming of the Winter Palace, was responsible for the commission. The scene of the storming was based more on The Storming of the Winter Palace from 1920, a re-enactment involving Vladimir Lenin and thousands of Red Guards, witnessed by 100,000 spectators, than the original occasion, which was far less photogenic. This scene is notable because it became the legitimate, historical depiction of the storming of the Winter Palace owing to the lack of print or film documenting the actual event, which led historians and filmmakers to use Eisenstein's recreation. This illustrates October's success as a propaganda film.[1]


Eisenstein used the film to further develop his theories of film structure, using a concept he described as "intellectual montage", the editing together of shots of apparently unconnected objects in order to create and encourage intellectual comparisons between them. One of the film's most celebrated examples of this technique is a baroque image of Jesus that is compared, through a series of shots, to Hindu deities, the Buddha, Aztec gods, and finally a primitive idol in order to suggest the sameness of all religions; the idol is then compared with military regalia to suggest the linking of patriotism and religious fervour by the state. In another sequence Alexander Kerensky, head of the pre-Bolshevik revolutionary Provisional Government, is compared to a preening mechanical peacock.


In 1966, Dimitri Shostakovich wrote a new soundtrack for the film, which later appeared as a tone poem 'October' Op.131 where Shostakovich's famous 'Partisan' theme makes an appearance.[2] This soundtrack is the one used on most DVD releases of the film.


Vladimir Lenin as represented in the film

The film was not as successful or influential as Battleship Potemkin. Eisenstein's montage experiments met with official disapproval; the authorities complained that October was unintelligible to the masses, and Eisenstein was attacked—for neither the first time nor the last—for excessive "formalism". He was also required to re-edit the work to expurgate references to Leon Trotsky, who had recently been purged by Joseph Stalin.

In spite of the film's lack of popular acceptance, film historians consider it to be an immensely rich experience—a sweeping historical epic of vast scale, and a powerful testament to Eisenstein's creativity and artistry.[citation needed] Vsevolod Pudovkin, after viewing the film, remarked, "How I should like to make such a powerful failure."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taylor, Richard. Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1979. pp. 93–94.
  2. ^ Bolshevik Festivals, 1917–1920, accessed 7 December 2008
  3. ^ Taylor, Richard. Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1979. p. 101

External links[edit]