In the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein – the director – applied revolutionary movie editing techniques to create an emotional effect. It might be interesting what would happen if another no less great auteur was asked to re-shoot and re-edit the scene. For instance, it could be George Orson Welles – a significant actor and director of famous movies such as Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai, and others.
The Odessa Steps sequence shows the summoned government troops ruthlessly shooting civilians. In this episode, Eisenstein reached an extreme expression of pathos. The structure of the action, the transition from stage to stage in it, the movement of groups, individual figures, and also objects reflect the changing mood of the human mass. There is a bright glee in the fraternization scene and a frenzy in the shooting one.
It should be mentioned that both Eisenstein and Welles actively used the diagonal composition. Such a composition, unlike the frontal one, gives volume to a scene, and perspective and depth arise. However, for the first time in the history of cinema, Wells began to use theatrical light when something is especially highlighted, something is darkened. This approach might bring drama and escalation to any sequence. It could be the primary director’s trick to add to the scene and the reason for a re-shooting.
Then, Welles pays a lot of attention to historical facts in the films based on real events, which is evident from his F for Fake. The Odessa Steps scene is entirely Eisenstein’s artifice; hence, Welles could make it closer to reality. He could implement a metaphorical sense in it as in many of his films; for instance, Welles would depict blocked Odessa Steps for people who want to maintain the insurgents. This block could mean the violence and oppression of the regime of that time.
To sum everything up, Battleship Potemkin is an exceptional movie directed by Sergei Eisenstein. The forced substitution of him to George Orson Welles during the shooting of the Odessa Steps sequence could bring some crucial changes in it. Welles would use theatrical light to give even more emotions to the scene. Then, Orson’s insertion of his interest in the film would be a depiction of the regime as violent and despotic.