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Mooo

Okay, so as a newly-converted vegetarian (“new” as in “about a month or so,” not “new” as in “since class today”), I gotta take issue with the killing the cow scene at the end of Strike.  Yeah, I realize that cow was going to be killed anyway, but using the actual death throes of a suffering animal to lend your film emotional resonance is exploitative (and yeah, I realize that Eisenstein wasn’t operating in a profit-driven environment for film makers, so he’s not being exploitative in exactly the same way film exploitation is considered, but it still unethically trades in involuntary suffering to further it’s political agenda).

That said, I can’t say the thought process behind the inclusion of the butchering of the cow was far off.  Like Comrade Vertov suggested, staged drama is unmistakably artificial next to recordings of documentary footage.  As we watched Strike, a transparently manipulative agit-prop work if there ever was one, I noticed a lot of laughing when the bourgeoisie-serving horsemen threw a baby off the roof.  The staged work looks, you know, staged.  When that terrible sequence of the cow’s death ran, though, there wasn’t nearly as many chuckles, and those that did laugh weren’t laughing at the film’s shortcomings the way we were while we watched the baby getting thrown off the roof.

The use of torturous snuff in order to illicit an emotional response from viewers is cheap and unethical, but it’s also incredibly effective.  Eisenstein’s scene hits you right in the gut, and it haunts you long after the movie ends.

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