Borrowing its title from a book by American journalist John Reed (of Reds fame), Sergei Eisenstein's Ten Days That Shook the World reenacts the crucial week-and-a-half in October, 1918, when the Russian Kerensky regime was toppled by the Bolsheviks.
While Eisenstein takes certain liberties in characterization--those opposing the Bolsheviks are depicted as mental defectives or grossly overweight clowns--his re-creation of such events as the storming of the Winter Palace are painstakingly meticulous.
The actor playing Lenin, a nonprofessional worker named Nikandrov, so closely resembles the genuine article that the effect is positively eerie. So authentic is Eisenstein's reconstruction of events that, for years, TV documentaries have been passing off clips from Ten Days That Shook the World as actual scenes of the Revolution.
While impressive on a technical level, the film never truly stirs the audience's emotions; Eisenstein purists have argued that this alienation technique was the director's intention all along, forcing the viewer to observe the events intellectually rather than emotionally.
Produced in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, Ten Days That Shook the World was initially titled October.