Sergei Eisenstein's first film is, without doubt, one of the most astonishing debuts in film history. His introduction of dialectical montage--which included then-innovative shock cuts to such violent images as a raised club, a bloody face, and a bull's throat being cut--both disturbed and galvanized contemporary audiences. Combined with the expressionistic compositional style Eisenstein had absorbed from French and German films, it established its director as a new force in world cinema. Commissioned by the government to commemorate the first, failed Bolshevik revolution, the film covers a 1912 strike at a metalworks factory whose workers have been bullied and humiliated by the plant management. When a fired worker commits suicide, the workers organize a peaceful strike. But the plant bosses make use of agents provocateurs and eventually bring in the czar's troops, who crack down on the strikers with maximum brutality. Aside from his editing innovations, Eisenstein pioneered the concept of the collective group as a character, influenced by the example of the newly formed Soviet Union, as well as the Constructivist art of the period.
This silent film features an orchestral score.
The film marked the feature-film directing debut of Sergei Eisenstein.
Eisenstein borrowed many of the actors from his Proletkult theater troupe.
Among the many directors to pay homage directly to Eisenstein's shock-cut technique was Francis Ford Coppola near the end of APOCALYPSE NOW.