In his introduction to Kino, our landmark programme focusing on Russian film pioneers, Film Professor Ian Christie runs through the impact Soviet cinema has had on the West over the last 100 years. Three years after its release Battleship Potemkin was the best known movie in the world, with pioneering film critic Winifred Bryher describing the Odessa Steps sequence as ‘the most famous scene in the most famous film ever made’.
The 1930s musicals were dismissed in the West for betraying Soviet ideals and offering unimaginative entertainment on an inferior technical scale to Hollywood. Christie describes the critical resurgence following Stalin’s death (the ‘thaw’), when films such as The Cranes Are Flying were shown in the West. While Eisenstein’s reputation faltered in the 1960s, Dziga Vertov’s The Man with a Movie Camera, originally dismissed by documentary pioneer John Grierson as ‘worthless’, finally enjoyed mass acclaim over 30 years after its release.