Sergei Eisenstein directed this factually accurate depiction of the revolutionary mutiny on the Potemkin in June 1905.
The sailors Matushenko (Mikhail Gomorov) and Grigory Vakulinchuk (Aleksandr Antonov) want to support the workers' revolution. In their quarters the men are urged to speak out. They object to the rotten meat, but the doctor says the maggots are fly larvae and can be washed off. Soup is cooked, but the men refuse to eat it.
Commander Golikov (Vladimir Barsky) speaks to the officers and men on the quarter deck. Only the officers step forward to approve the soup. Golikov threatens to hang men. Matushenko moves toward the gun turret with others. They are ordered to stop and go back. Golikov threatens to have them shot and orders a tarpaulin brought to cover them. A priest (Sergei Eisenstein) appears and prays that the sinners will repent. The firing squad aims at the covered group. When ordered to shoot, others tell them not to kill their brothers. They lower their rifles, and the men attack the officers. Two officers and the doctor are thrown into the sea. Chief Officer Giliarovsky (Grigori Aleksandrov) shoots Vakulinchuk, and sailors jump into the sea to save Vakulinchuk. He is dead, and they take his body to the jetty at Odessa.
People come to the jetty and take the news of the mutiny to town. Hundreds of people come and pay their respect. A statement by the crew is read and concludes, "Death to the oppressors!" People become aroused and shout, "Down with the autocracy!" One man says, "Kill the Yids!" and is pushed down. They rally on the ship.
Many small sailing ships join the Potemkin and give them food. Suddenly people run down the steps of Odessa from the soldiers who are shooting at them. People step over the dead and wounded. Women try to plead with the soldiers, but they are shot down. Cossacks on horses arrive. A carriage with a baby rolls down the steps. The Potemkin fires its big guns at the general staff in the theater.
The sailors debate in a meeting on the ship and decide to go meet the squadron. At night the squadron approaches. At dawn they see the battleships, and hands are called on deck. They prepare for battle and go full steam ahead. The Potemkin signals, "Join us." Sailors shout, "Brothers!" and the Potemkin with a red flag passes through the squadron without a shot a being fired.
This revolutionary drama from Soviet Russia commemorates
a victory during the failed revolution of 1905 and portrays how
authoritarian abuse can provoke noncooperation, protest, and even
mutiny and revolution in a nation's navy.