The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty

The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty

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  • Sun 29 Oct
  • 101 minutes
  • Director: Esfir Shub
  • Writer: V.I. Lenin
  • Cast: Mikhail Alekseyev, Alexei Brusilov, Nikolai Chkheidze
  • Soviet Union (1927)


Shub’s documentary, commissioned as a visual document of the October Revolution ten years on, was compiled from footage recovered during exhaustive archival research. Her film charts the course of the Revolution from the pre-war years through the carnage of the trenches to the fall of the Tsar and the climactic events of October 1917. Exemplifying Shub’s influential compilation and editing techniques, her study is a vivid record of Russian politics and society before 1917, as well as the year that would see the old order swept away forever.  


Spark: a festival of revolutionary film

Spark, the Russian Revolution Centenary Committee’s festival of revolutionary film, takes place at two of London’s most renowned independent cinemas: the Phoenix and the Rio. The festival takes its name from the Russian revolutionary newspaper Iskra (Spark). It features classics of early Soviet cinema by Vsevolod Pudovkin, Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov and Esfir Shub. Warren Beatty’s Reds will also be shown as a unique and daring Hollywood film about the Revolution, released at the height of the Cold War.

The role of film in the October Revolution

Film’s potential as a tool to explain and win support for the Revolution was recognised early on by young communist filmmakers. They transformed film into a powerful medium of communication, applying Marxist theory to cinema in innovative ways.

Eisenstein developed a theory of montage whereby images are juxtaposed, creating new meanings and stirring audience emotions. Rejecting dramatic fiction to document everyday experiences, Dziga Vertov directed the Kino Pravda newsreels, using special effects and experimental editing techniques. He accompanied the ‘agit-trains’ that journeyed across Russia to spread the ideas of the Bolshevik government. The trains carried projectors, showing films to the mostly illiterate peasantry.

Soviet cinema’s legacy

Soviet cinema has had a lasting impact internationally, influencing the theory and practice of film throughout the twentieth century and beyond. It has inspired filmmakers around the world including Orson Welles, the Italian Neo-Realists, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Buñuel, Jean-Luc Godard and Francis Ford Coppola.