A major historical testimonial to the Soviet revolution of 1917.
October is a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the event. The film opens with the elation after the February Revolution and the establishment of the Provisional Government, depicting the throwing down of the Tsar's monument. It moves quickly to point out it's the "same old story" of war and hunger under the Provisional Government, however. The buildup to the October Revolution is dramatized with intertitles marking the dates of events.
October was one of two films commissioned by the Soviet government to honour the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. Eisenstein was chosen to head the project due to the international success he had achieved with The Battleship Potemkin (1925). The scene of the storming was based more on The Storming of the Winter Palace (1920), a re-enactment involving Vladimir Lenin and thousands of Red Guards, witnessed by 100,000 spectators, than the original occasion, which was far less photogenic. This scene became the legitimate, historical depiction of the storming of the Winter Palace owing to the lack of print or film documenting the actual event, which led historians and filmmakers to use Eisenstein's recreation.
According to the memoirs of Alexander Gorodnitsky, his father Moisei described that "in the film October there were almost no professional actors. Lenin, for example was played by Nikandrov, a cement factory worker who had with him a portrait likeness. For him a suit, coat and hat were sewed, and a bald spot was shaved on his head. Likewise a University student took on the role of Kerensky. Zinoviev was played by his real brother, in the role of Trotsky some kind of dentist was employed who also had much in common with the hero".
Eisenstein used the film to further develop his theories of film structure, using a concept he described as "intellectual montage", the editing together of shots of apparently unconnected objects in order to create and encourage intellectual comparisons between them.
Eisenstein's montage experiments met with official disapproval; the authorities complained that October was unintelligible to the masses, and Eisenstein was attacked—for neither the first time nor the last—for excessive "formalism". He was also required to re-edit the work to expurgate references to Leon Trotsky, who had recently been purged by Joseph Stalin.
In spite of the film's lack of popular acceptance, film historians consider it to be an immensely rich experience—a sweeping historical epic of vast scale, and a powerful testament to Eisenstein's creativity and artistry. Vsevolod Pudovkin, after viewing the film, remarked, "How I should like to make such a powerful failure.”
Eisenstein used the film to further develop his theories of film structure, using a concept he described as "intellectual montage".
Brais González wrote the score for October in 2017 as a commission from the Cineclub Padre Feijóo, one of the longest-running film clubs in Spain, where it premiered in October of that year. The soundtrack features traditional Russian melodies, the language of Soviet composers such as Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, and Caspervek's trademark use of pre-recorded electronics and field recordings.