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Sergei Eisenstein

Sergei Eisenstein

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Published by Medway08
film aesthetics of early cinema
film aesthetics of early cinema

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Published by: Medway08 on Jan 21, 2008
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09/06/2012

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The Russian Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein believed that
montage
(juxtaposingimages by film editing) could create ideas or have an impact not found in the individualimages. Two or more images together create a third thing that makes the whole greater than the sum of its individual images. Here are two sets of images from the end of the"Odessa Steps" sequence of 
 Battleship Potemkin
. The three still shots of stone cherubs,when edited together rapidly, give the impression of throwing a punch. Similarly, thethree stone lions, seen in rapid succession, suggest being aroused from slumber to anger.For Eisenstein, the kind of montage illustrated in
 Battleship Potemkin
could function toraise political awareness and militancy.http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcock/pages/montage/montage-1.htmlThe Russian Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein believed that
montage
(juxtaposingimages by film editing) could create ideas or have an impact not found in the individualimages. Two or more images together create a "tertium quid" (third thing) that makes thewhole greater than the sum of its individual images. Here are two sets of images from theend of the "Odessa Steps" sequence of 
 Battleship Potemkin
. The three still shots of stonecherubs, when edited together rapidly, give the impression of throwing a punch.Similarly, the three stone lions, seen in rapid succession, suggest being aroused fromslumber to anger. For Eisenstein, the kind of montage illustrated in
 Battleship Potemkin
could function to raise political awareness and militancy.http://www.hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk/MultimediaStudentProjects/98-99/9505060m/html/Crucial to understanding what Eisenstein was striving for cinematically is his seminal1931 essay “A Dialectic Approach to Film Form”. Just as the conflict of classes drovehistory – with the bourgeoisie as thesis clashing with the proletariat as antithesis to yieldthe triumphant progressive synthesis of the classless society – so too (famously, in
Strike!
)
 
shot A of the workers' rebellion being put down is juxtaposed with shot B of cattle being slaughtered and the synthesis yields the symbolic meaning C, that theworkers are cattle. This technical innovation (which Eisenstein dubbed “intellectualmontage”) resulted from his studies of Kuleshov's famous experiments (whichdemonstrated that the meaning of any shot is contextual) and of Japanese ideograms(where two separate symbols can be juxtaposed to create a third meaning, e.g. child +mouth = scream, white bird + mouth = sing) (3). Less famously, in that same essay, Eisenstein distinguished between ten different types of dialectical conflict at the level of shot composition alone, many of which are utilised in the Odessa Steps sequence in
 Battleship Potemkin
(1925).While Eisenstein was proudest of his “invention” of intellectual montage in the parallel bloodbaths in
Strike!
(1924), what most endures about his work is his mastery of theediting techniques he identified as metric, rhythmic, tonal and overtonal in “Methods of Montage”. In his view, editing involved the audience more than the passive reception of information from static and lengthy shots; that as viewers we actively come to thesymbolic realisations of intellectual montage, and are driven into a Pavlovian frenzy bythe dynamism of the rhythms of the Odessa Steps, or the rat-a-tat of the machine gun in

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