Montage is a synonym for editing which was practiced by Soviet filmmakers around the 1920s. These shots were considered a form of editing which could form a relation or meaning between each other. The main creators of Soviet Montage were filmmakers Lev Kuleshov, Vesvolod Pudovkin, Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein. Each filmmaker created their own forms of montage and incorporated them differently into their films under the teachings of Lev Kuleshov; placing these ideas into political concepts. Eisenstein called these different forms ‘Cinema of Attractions’ and experimented with a form of film editing which attempted to produce the greatest emotional response in a viewer by conflicting two different shots created from juxtaposition. Soviet Montagists took the work of editing away from mere exposition and focused on materialization of ideas, motifs, symbols, metaphors, themes, and concepts through editing. Like most Propaganda films, the style of Soviet Montage deliberately avoids creating any human three-dimensional character’s throughout the stories. Within Soviet Montage most characters are made up merely as symbols and as a form of ‘typage’ so they could simply represent archetypes instead of real three-dimensional characters, like for example: the sailor, the peasant, the mother, the nurse, the schoolgirl, the baby, the Tsarist, and the soldier. The crowds of people in these films are seen less as individual people and more as a large mass that represents a political symbol. Causality and individual stories weren’t as important to Soviet Montage as large scale events that impacted large masses of men and women who moved in a form of unison. Even the dialogue is limited to simple expressions like anger and fear, and there is no personal human drama to counterbalance the larger political message of the stories. The filmmakers felt that montage should proceed more from rhythm and of its linkage of shots, and less involve itself with the story and characters. Soviet Montage also tended to use the violent death of animals as symbolic metaphors which disturbingly mirror the violent oppression of the people in the story. Soviet Montage’s potential to influence political violence through emotional response was noted by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who called Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin “a marvelous film without equal in the cinema … anyone who had no firm political conviction could become a Bolshevik after seeing the film.” Sergei Eisenstein’s Intellectual theory of montage is the most complex and most interesting of styles. Intellectual Montage took montage to a whole different level by having the viewer form new ideas, metaphors and symbols between the connection of two separate images. Eisenstein’s theory was based on a Japanese ideogram in which a third meaning within two separate shots became the sum of all greater parts. For instance, a shot of a bird and a mouth would form a third meaning to the viewer which was to sing. The shots of an eye and water would form meanings of crying and the shots of a baby and a mouth would form the meaning of screaming. The style of Soviet Montage’s Cinema of Attractions has been extremely influential for various future filmmakers as you still see forms of Soviet Montage being used in many present action films today.
“Never had I known that these mechanical noises could be arranged to sound so beautiful. Mr. Dziga Vertov is a musician,” stated Charlie Chaplin after he first witnessed Vertov’s early film Enthusiasm in London. And still Vertov took the language of sound to an even greater level when making his masterpiece Man with the Movie Camera (also called Man […]
Sergei Eisenstein’s revolutionary propaganda film Battleship Potemkin is one of the fundamental landmarks in the history of the cinema. Critics, film scholars and movie directors over the years have endlessly quoted and referenced the film, that most younger viewers most likely have seen the parody before seeing the original. Upon its original release Battleship Potemkin was banned in it’s native […]
“The strength of the working class is organization. Without organization of the masses, the proletarian is nothing. Organized it is everything. Being organized means unity of action, unity of practical activity.” 1925’s Strike was legendary director Sergei Eisenstein’s first full-length feature film, and he would go on to make his masterpiece The Battleship Potemkin later that year. […]