'Battleship Potemkin' (1925)
Who says propaganda is bad thing? This little piece of cinema history was created to pay tribute to early Russian revolutionaries, but it wound up overthrowing the way dramatic films were made. The silent movie tells the tale of a 1905 uprising in which Russian sailors thwart tyranny aboard a ship, only to be laid to waste when heavy-handed bad guys – Cossacks, in this case – come looking for retribution.
The story unfolds in five acts. "The Odessa Steps" is the most notable of the five, hailed by filmmakers, scholars and movie buffs as an important breakthrough in the art of editing. Sergey Eisenstein was one of the first directors to use montage – editing a series of shots into one sequence – as he captured the climactic destruction that occurs when the Cossack forces invade the town, weaving together the fates of various townspeople and one very unlucky baby in a carriage. (The scene was reprised in 1987's "The Untouchables.") [sources: Ebert, Encyclopedia Britannica].
"Battleship Potemkin" was banned in several countries, including ironically, the Soviet Union in the Stalinist era. Joseph Stalin feared it might incite a riot against his repressive regime [source: Encyclopedia Britannica].