The battleship Potemkin was a notorious political football in the years leading up to and during the Russian Revolution; it suffered through
mutinies and civil war insurgencies, not to mention the indignities of being renamed four times and handed off to Romania — only to be handed back again. In the end, the Potemkin was blown up and scuttled by interventionists rather than let the ship fall into Bolshevik hands.
Somehow we’re not surprised, then, to learn that the City Office of Cultural Affairs – organizers of Piccolo Spoleto Festival and faithful municipal servants all – have similarly scuttled plans to screen the 1936 silent film Battleship Potemkin in Marion Square with
live accompaniment of Shostakovitch’s famous score from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Rather than let the owner of the
worldwide rights to that score bully them into paying an uncomradely fee for the privilege, the OCA gave him his walking papers.
Word from OCA now is that, what with the CSO already having been retained for the free Marion Square event and all, the orchestra will settle for accompanying two of the short films from its Out of the Box series last fall, followed by a film-less performance of some Shostakovitch. After that, with the CSO packed up and on their way, organizers will pop in the 75-minute Battleship Potemkin DVD and turn the volume up to 11.
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