The film Battleship Potemkin was completed in 1925, eight years after the Russian revolution. In 1923 Trotsky noted: "The fact that we have so far, not taken possession of cinema shows how slow and uneducated we are . This weapon, which cries out to be used, is the best instrument of propaganda- (Taylor, 1998 p.35). The new era called for new films that would be able to compete with Hollywood imports and support the communist regime. The answer was montage film a method developed by Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Vertov and others. As other forms of art (Mayakovsky - literature) the new films were "as innovative and experimental as the times- (Petric 1987 p.1). The films were inspired by Italian Futurism (Marinetti), Constructivism as well as the first great film directors .
Eisenstein intended to film a whole chronicle of the 1905 revolution, but in the end he picked one of the events. The event itself was not at the centre of the revolution, but was rather symbolic and heroic at the same time. The film served the regime and the revolutionary ideas. Eisenstein adjusted' some of the historical facts "for the purposes of propaganda and art- (Sinclair 1968, p.6) However, when we watch Potemkin we realise that Eisenstein was both a devoted communist with revolutionary ideas and a great admirer of classical drama and literature. The film has a similar structure to that of a classical tragedy (Mayer, 1972 p.5) the different acts conflict with each other.
Conflict, for Eisenstein, was a basic element of his montage technique. He combined pieces of film or shots in a way that they generate a new meaning, a new feeling. Shots do not make a film but conflicts between different shots or groups of shots do (Mitry, 1998 p.144). A conflict can be achieved by different means: a conflict within the shot, the length of the shots, light, graphic lines; a conflict between different shot sizes . Following Eisenstein principles, the main focus of this shot-by-shot analysis is the conflict itself.