I cannot explain how influential Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin has been during the course of the last eighty years. Eisenstein's use of montage is extraordinary, flashing from one idea to another, and back again so quickly that you don't even realize that it is happening! The intensity from scene to scene is truly unforgettable.
Its importance is undeniable but their just isn't all that much here aside from the style which, even then, is only made riveting by THAT scene. I don't need to name it, cause you know it. Aside from that, I didn't care at all. This is likely because I'm more interested in individuals rather than one whole group of generic Russians. Easy to admire, difficult to love.
The opposite of the American "hero" film, Battleship Potemkin is a movie so acute and vivid the "fictional" scenes depicted feel like actual events from history. Eisenstein's montage editing is remarkable, and the tension grabs you by the throat. This film still manages to transcend its landmark status, and is truly essential viewing.
No less than Pauline Kael said that Battleship Potemkin is a great film, but not a very likable one. Whether she's right or not—and I disagree—to understand how and why this film works is to understand a lot about cinema.
As David Thomson points out, a film supposedly condemning the violence of Imperialist Russia that ends up being most exciting when it shows the worst excesses of that violence. For that reason I can't take it that seriously any more. But it's always worth mentioning this film whenever people start going on about how it's only modern films that make violence exciting. Oh, really...?