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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:47 am 
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My opening wish is to explore the function of Intellectual Montage as pioneered by Eisenstein in the silent era, but as this obviously important filmmaker has no all-encompassing thread devoted to him-- combined with the possibility that the thread might morph over time into a usefull general discussion about SE in general-- I'll give it the above, very general tag.

Over on the PANDORA thread some interesting points were made about the utility of the severe form of "intellectual" (or dialectical) montage utilized by Eisenstein throughout the twenties, based on his formal observations of the editing concepts (INTOLERANCE) and techniques (WAY DOWN EAST, FALL OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY) of, for example, Esther Shub and D.W. Griffith.

Despite my intense admiration for STRIKE, POTYEMKIN, OCTOBER, and other silent tidbits, I find little utility for this form of montage in the sound era, particularly as regards the feature film melodrama, Hollywood style. I'd even argue for it's limited usefulness in the modern arthouse cinema, in sum global terms.

Why? Because the severity of the demands upon the soundtrack immediately push the film into the zone of the avant garde, creates self-conscious moments which kick the viewer out of the disbelief-suspension neccessary to sustain a functioning melodrama, etc. Added to this are the primarily intellectual-- that is to say, unemotional-- concerns of this particular conceit, which limits the possibilites to employ the device as a means to create hightened moments of "visual poetry"-- i e employment of other lightly avant garde, but more user friendly applications such as slow motion, superimpositions, etc... for example Travis walking in slo-mo down a midtown street, the superimpositions of helicoptors & explosions about Captain Williard's face in APOCALYPSE.. both extremely poetic, and emotional (though informative in terms of character) uses of devices favored by the avant garde.

Examing the various manifiestations of this formal practice of intellectual montage, in each case a flow-breaking moment of virtual and "user unfriendly" surrealism occurs. The only option for the soundtrack is either music, silence, or a curious moment of film-stopping strangeness in room audio. Example--

Examine the moments of symbolic associations in OCTOBER where multiple figurines are shot in rapidity-- mechanical peacocks, buddhas, statues of Napoleon, all interspersed with equally quick & rhythmic shots of the political figures of the time. In a silent film, the director can essentially play god by virtually stopping the film-narrative, make his purely editorial statement about his own characters, then move on with the narrative. In a talkie such a moment must devolve into a virtual music video or go silent for that moment, because the insertion of this sort of non-linear material means that a different kind of film is popping in.

Take the second archetype of intellectual montage: kinetic celebration. The stretching of a moment of realtime action which occurs in the real world over the course of one second, into several seconds via the employment of a pastiche of repetitions, often from multiple angles. The repetition of the image of a man winding up to break a plate, or the fall off of the edge of a ship, or the dropping of an object to the floor and breaking, can be very dynamic in purely visual terms. Rev an engine once before slamming the clutch and flooring the gas in drag racing is okay; rev it a few times and your car sounds quite impressive and your ultimate tearout down the drag strip will be a monster burst of heavily loaded energy. The same concept is in operation in these kinetic celebrations in Eisensteins silent montages.

But what do you do in terms of soundtrack in this case of fragmentary re-expositions of mundane activites to elevate the physical effect? Repeat the same physical noises over and over again until the final splat or grunt or bump or splash?

** ** **

I don't think it's any accident that by the time of the advent of the sound era Eisenstein abandoned this technique: not because of "evolution" of his style so much as it simply wound up user-unfriendly to sound filmmaking. One looks at moments where he applied this technique in a sound film (his opening of ROMANCE SENTIMENTALE-- seperate from the interiors/ballad scenes filmed by Grigory A.-- a piece of absolute mish mash mush, and probably the most abstract piece of filmmaking of his life; and again we see the whole piece, even Grigory's section, turning into a music video; because when the sound, as in the SE opening, corresponds to the action of rapid montage, you get chaos).

Yes: when the sound corresponds to the action of an Eisensteinian montage, you get crazy chaos that offers little sense. The best utility for these techniques today-- and you'll usually hear it discussed by scholars when assessing the impact of Eisenstein-- are in, obviously, music videos... as well as television commercials and the Digital Production Services which exist in any television station. DPS are the guys who create the opening credits to any TV show, show logos swirling and shining then bursting into shimmering pieces then get put together into quick clips of (for example, for a weekend NBA Basketball network show) a guy dunking the ball/a gatorade bucket being dumped on a coach/shot of a trophy/shot of a ball shattering a backboard/etc) seperate unrelated actions strung together by a concept. Though there are probably very limited exceptions here and there I'm sure, the vast bulk of modern emplyments of Eisensteinian montage are patently non-narrative forms of imagemaking.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:54 pm 
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HerrSchrek wrote:
But what do you do in terms of soundtrack in this case of fragmentary re-expositions of mundane activites to elevate the physical effect? Repeat the same physical noises over and over again until the final splat or grunt or bump or splash?

Very nice post, Schreck, and I'd love to add comments on much of what you say but I have limited time so I'll just post one thought.

A very easy way to overcome the problem in such isolated moments as a breaking plate, etc., is merely to have no sound at all except the music track which will ideally reflect or comment upon the physical action. This is not unlike what happens in a scored silent film; and the technique of using a piece of music but no diegetic sound is a common and accepted practise in mainstream film. Audiences will accept this, by a kind of enforced illusion, I think, because there is a section of the brain wherein one understands that loud music can"drown" out other sounds; thus, though it is not strictly logical given that we understand the score to be outside the narrative, there is a kind of intuitive logic which makes it acceptable for loud music to be a substitute for other sound in film.

It also isn't necessarily "music video" syndrome.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:19 pm 
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Regardless of how you define it (and I didn't mean that films become actual music videos during moments of montage... it's a usage of symbolic & generalized language to communicate an idea), my point is that even during moments of non Intellectual Montage in modern film (i e exposition of place in pastiche, as in the montage of dissolves elucidating the mood and character of Captain Willairds surroundings when carried out of the bamboo cage back into Kurtz' compound proper) the choice is almost inevitably going to have to be music. Or silence.

Take Vorkapich's inserts (non Intellectual montage, but montage nontheless) i e FURIES, or his fantastic edit of FIREFLY, niether of which would have the capacity to confuse people a la the extrapolations of OCTOBER (where a great bulk of common viewers have absolutely no idea why a a quick shot of buddhah or mechanical peacock is being interleaved with those of their historical figures, mixed in with shots of assembled/disassembled quarters of a cognac bottle), the demands of this kind of nonlinear fast cutting requires a musical overlay. Observe, interestingly, the use of montage in THE CHESS PLAYER by Raymond Bernard-- even though the film is a silent film, and therefore user-friendly (as you and I both point out) to the even densest and most abstract forms of montage, the director chooses to superimpose the sequence over a piece of music being played.

But these are a sort of "time lapse" montage, where the editorial conceits of film are being used to summary advantage to express high points over the passage of time, a sort of "dramatic outline" if you will, picking out key expressive moments over a stretch of a day or week or year. Again, the film's melodramatic rhythm is placed on hold, so to speak, so that these unfoldings may play out. They can also be quite beautiful and poetic, as in the case of all of the above-- in each case these are some of the most tour de force moments in the films mentioned. But again, the director chooses to sprinkle these moments in as punctuation, employing them to create high moments of cinematic beauty, not as a primary storytelling means, as did Eisenstein in his three best known silent masterpieces.

In the silent era it was completely possible to employ this device as often as desired over the course of an hour or two. My only point is that with the advent of the sound era, the utility of the avant garde Intellectual Montage laid far too abstract a demand on the sound era feature film, and therefore had to be abandoned. This extreme kind of metaphor-based, superextrapolating, (and time stretching, in the case of the kinetic celebration... this versus the time compressing nature of "time summary" montage and in fact cinema itself) montage was rendered a bit too extreme and self conscious for sound feature film makiing.

My comment is neither that this was a good thing or a bad thing-- just that it was a thing. I for one love Eisenstein's silents.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:37 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Regardless of how you define it (and I didn't mean that films become actual music videos during moments of montage

I never took that to be your meaning. That aside was merely to say that music overlaying montage is not necessarily in the music video style, and it was said in order to separate it from your own comments on the subject of music and montage.

HerrSchrek wrote:
My only point is that with the advent of the sound era, the utility of the avant garde Intellectual Montage laid far too abstract a demand on the sound era feature film, and therefore had to be abandoned.

I don't think anyone would disagree with you. You're right about sound hindering the use of intellectual montage; in fact, your rightness is the reason this thread has died. There is just nothing to add.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:21 pm 

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Mr_sausage wrote:
HerrSchrek wrote:
My only point is that with the advent of the sound era, the utility of the avant garde Intellectual Montage laid far too abstract a demand on the sound era feature film, and therefore had to be abandoned.

I don't think anyone would disagree with you. You're right about sound hindering the use of intellectual montage; in fact, your rightness is the reason this thread has died. There is just nothing to add.

I'd quibble with Prof. Schrek here. First, intellectual montage - which Eisenstein himself considered immature even already in his writings in the late 20s - was never all that important a device in the language of film. It was, as SE rightly suggests, "literary" and was brought into play sparingly. I don't think sound killed this strategy as we can all think of examples of intellectual montage in sound films. This strategy was just heavy-handed, especially in hands other than Eisenstein's. In sound film the wildly obvious instances - a la Lang or Godard - are few; but the practice evolved into the more subtle "intellectual" associations which became ubiquitous in some production design circles.

Eisenstein's real concern was with purely visual rhythm, something he did not abandon in the sound era, and that concern (the "dynamic" montage) has been, I'd posit, contra Schrek, THE most important and lasting advance in filmmaking post- the continuity cut. Dynamic montage is not just repeated action (which virtually every editor indulges in to some extent), but the what Eisenstein called "conflict" of visual elements (space, line, direction, tone, etc) that is in evidence in pretty much all films concerned with visual form from Welles to post-Dogma cinema.

If one takes a look at, for example, The Visual Story, a book which never mentions Eisenstein, btw, by Bruce Block - USC Prof, producer of such fluff as Father of the Bride et al, and visual guru to pretty much everyone who's come out of the film school system in Southern California - you'll see the clear legacy of Eisenstein in even mainstream filmmaking today.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:00 pm 
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yoshimori wrote:
but the what Eisenstein called "conflict" of visual elements (space, line, direction, tone, etc) that is in evidence in pretty much all films concerned with visual form

Pandora's Box, for example.


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yoshimori wrote:
Eisenstein's real concern was with purely visual rhythm, something he did not abandon in the sound era, and that concern (the "dynamic" montage) has been, I'd posit, contra Schrek, THE most important and lasting advance in filmmaking post- the continuity cut. Dynamic montage is not just repeated action (which virtually every editor indulges in to some extent), but the what Eisenstein called "conflict" of visual elements (space, line, direction, tone, etc) that is in evidence in pretty much all films concerned with visual form from Welles to post-Dogma cinema.

Certainly true, but that was not was Schreck was talking about, and I agree that there's not much to add to what he pointed out in his initial post. The only thing to mention is that Eisenstein himself was very aware of the problem from its beginning, and he wrote about this in an early statement on sound film, together with his colleagues Pudovkin and Alexandrov. The text is online here, I quote the relevant bits:

In the first place there will be commercial exploitation of the most salable merchandise, TALKING FILMS. Those in which sound recording will proceed on a naturalistic level, exactly corresponding with the movement on the screen, and providing a certain "illusion" of talking people, of audible objects, etc.

A first period of sensations does not injure the development of a new art, but it is the second period that is fearful in this case, a second period that will take the place of the fading virginity and purity of this first perception of new technical possibilities, and will assert an epoch of its automatic utilization for "highly cultured dramas" and other photographed performances of a theatrical sort.

To use sound in this way will destroy the culture of montage, for every ADHESION of sound to a visual montage piece increases its inertia as a montage piece, and increases the independence of its meaning-and this will undubtedly be to the detriment of montage, operating in the first place not on the montage pieces but on their JUXTAPOSITION.

ONLY A CONTRAPUNTAL USE of sound in relation to the visual montage piece will afford a new potentiality of montage development and perfection.

THE FIRST EXPERIMENTAL WORK WITH SOUND MUST BE DIRECTED ALONG THE LINE OF ITS DISTINCT NONSYNCHRONIZATION WITH THE VISUAL IMAGES. And only such an attack Will give the necessary palpability which will later lead to the creation- of an ORCHESTRAL COUNTERPOINT of visual and aural images.


Obviously this 'nonsynchronization of sound' did NOT make it into mainstream filmmaking, and Eisenstein did not use the idea in his later sound films, being probably aware of the problems that Schreck pointed out. I don't know whether it was just the sound problem that made him abandon intellectual montage. As amazing as it is in "October" at the first viewing, the device can become over-didactic very easily once you've seen the film several times (I think especially of that famous montage of various 'religious' symbols/items). In this respect the more general conflict of visual elements Yoshimori talks about can be much more effective. But it's not particularly Eisensteinian, but a pretty common thing. If we talk about Eisensteinian influences, I'd prefer to keep it to the specific Eisenstein montage technique, and honestly, I cannot see that anywhere in Pabst, nor for that manner, in any other director of narrative film (as a consistent influence) I can think of at the moment.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:51 am 
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Tommaso wrote:
If we talk about Eisensteinian influences, I'd prefer to keep it to the specific Eisenstein montage technique, and honestly, I cannot see that anywhere in Pabst, nor for that manner, in any other director of narrative film (as a consistent influence) I can think of at the moment.

But why would you prefer to limit discussions of his influence to his intellectual montage technique (peacock + hot dog buns = world oppression)? The baby carriage tumbling down the Odessa Steps, which has nothing to with the technique, has influenced every narrative director in the world.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:15 pm 
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This is getting embarassing.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:29 pm 
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GringoTex wrote:
The baby carriage tumbling down the Odessa Steps, which has nothing to with the technique, has influenced every narrative director in the world.

Please explain


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:51 pm 
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Pasolini literally adopts the contrapuntal music theory in Accatone and Mamma Roma by playing sacred music over proletarian characters. But the literalism I think is very easily overstated (although I prefer the use of the Matthew Passion in Mamma Roma to its use in Vangelo, as I do the movie.)

As for baby prams rolling down stairs etc, the overall mise en scene ceases to retain any real sense of montage and instead relies on the simple technique of making inanimate objects animated within the frame. The Odessa Steps sequence is always interesting to compare with the far more dynamic montages of American action directors like Siegel or Fleischer. These two acccelerate energy and a sense of violence by rapid cutting from action to action. Similar Eisenstein montages tend to stay with pictorially static shots. At least by Ivan part 2 the big set pieces are set up far more dynamically with by now classical mise en scene including blocking and staging, and geographical editing, isolating, enclosing, shooting in layered depth etc. You can see it all fused in the agfacolor sequence from Ivan.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:40 pm 
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skuhn8 wrote:
GringoTex wrote:
The baby carriage tumbling down the Odessa Steps, which has nothing to with the technique, has influenced every narrative director in the world.

Please explain

The power of the scene has nothing to do with intellectual montage. It's grounded in the "dynamic" montage that yoshimori referred to.

There has been a trend to deligitimize Eisenstein's contributions by pointing out that narrative filmmakers do not use intellectual montage. This is for the most part true, but it only tells half the story. Eisenstein's dyamic montage has had a monumental impact on narrative filmmaking. This has always been a part of what Bordwell refers to as the "standard version" of film history, which is why I'm surprised that several forum members are mystified by it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:29 am 

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GringoTex wrote:
The power of the scene has nothing to do with intellectual

It's been a long time since I've seen the Odessa Steps sequence, but what about the juxtapostion of the Potempkin's guns roaring to life and the three sculptures of a lion sleeping, waking, and fully erect? Perhaps that is more emotional than intellectual and thus wouldn't qualify as intellectual montage? Otherwise, I agree, from what I recall the juxtapostion of shots in the Odessa Steps sequence elicits a more emotional response than intellectual.


Last edited by Roger_Thornhill on Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:13 am 
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First off, for those who haven't seen it in awhile, let's refresh our memories: Scroll down 2/3's of the way down this page to watch the ODESSA STEPS.

This, in fact, the absolute core and essence of what it was that I was talking about above as "kinetic celebrations" and referred here to as "rhythmic montage". Here the editing operates in total conflict with the rhythms occuring onscreen, creating tension, dynamism, suspense. Take the famous moment when the baby's mother is hit by the bullet-- note the amount of time Eisenstein inserts into the simple process of her falling to the ground and losing grip of the carriage. This is not proscenium style acting in high emotional style, swooning at length to ham it up. This is Eisenstein demanding take after take, stretching the moment of "falling to the ground" into an impossibly long period. How many times does the woman react to the gunshot & begin to fall? I count ten cuts. How many times does the wheel of the baby carriage pass the "tipping point" by moving over the step edge whereby it should go immediately careening down? I count five cuts.

This is the unnatural repetition that I was talking about above, the silent film equivalent of revving a dragster time and time again before tearing out down the road. Eisenstein is creating a dynamism that causes you to cringe-- the scene is pure montage, picking out a wheel here, gloves cringing a wound there, boots marching, guns firing, people scattering, boots marching again, the woman hit, etc etc in rapid montage for tempo.

This technique was completely abandoned by the time of his sound works because the action is, in this particular case of kinetic/rhythmic montage which was used in the same films as his intellectual (i e symbolic-mosaic) montage, employed while representing realtime action... yet is not true to realtime. What is dynamic realtime exposition throughout a silent film becomes surreal in a talkie. It's like trying to put words in the mouth of a sculpture.

What is it that makes the Odessa steps sequence memorable? Do people see the film and make films with thousands upon thousands of gratutious content-extrapolating edits? Of course not. First off "The baby carriage tumbling down the Odessa Steps, which has nothing to with the technique, has influenced every narrative director in the world," is not only completely in error about "having nothing to do with the technique" but certainly an exaggeration regarding it's influence. The film was extremely impressive in it's time and certainly inspired some filmmakers like Dreyer to his greatest heights in JOAN... but this is a silent film (with far fewer cuts and far less radical editing). We see almost no use in the contemporary melodramatic cinema of this device by any filmmaker in the sound era. The sequence retains it's power to stand out today because of the melodrama and pathos of the moment, with the technique (for once) employed to very deeply emotional and instinctual ends, rather than in terms of pure cinematic/experimental tour de force exposition of directorial power, let's face it. When we see it being tributed here and there (as in THE UNTOUCHABLES) we see the pathos of not-wanting-a-baby-to-die being stretched impossibly in standard editing... not extreme montage editing technique in modern filmmaking. Pure distilled pathos: which takes us to Eisenstein's master-- Griffith. The baby under the police horse in STRIKE; the massacre/slaughtering of the bull sequence in same. The Odessa sequence in POTEMKIN. The killing of the horse on the drawbridge in OCTOBER. These moments of slaughter and high pathos became stock climactic punctuation in silent Eisenstein, with the Odessa sequence being the perfect fundamental marriage between his avant garde montage theories and a dramatic subject. Were he to execute the same cutting tempo of alternation rhythym, repetition, holding, etc, for a battle between two faceless armies or battleships, the scene wouldn't stand out from the rest of the film, which is assembled with the same tour de force innovation.

And indeed these dramatic usages (the mother and the baby carriage, the other mother getting blown clean away with her young son in her arms), were learned, more than any other place, at the feet of his idol, Griffith, who taught him by example to establish archtypically blemish-free Innocence, confronted by an all obliterating evil... with the tempo of the editing operating to serve these sentimentalist ends (as well as completely distorting history to suit ideological goals). It's in these unusually emotional scenes that Eisenstein is most clearly building on his influence by Griffith, one of the most sentimental filmmakers, period.

From Videomaker
Quote:
The Montage
Eisenstein's great contribution to the world of editing is the montage: a series of related images presented in sequence to convey an emotional message to an audience. The best example of a montage from Potemkin is known as the "Odessa Steps" sequence.

From HOLT via NY Film Annex
Quote:
“The film contains in the massacre on the Odessa Steps (an invention of Eisenstein's)--one of the most memorable and exciting sequences in all cinema. The rapid montage, and the effects devised by using a trolley and a camera strapped to the waist of an acrobat, still take the breath away. The film that put Soviet Cinema and Eisenstein on the international map.'— Holt's Foreign Film Guide

A wonderful page on the film from the Catholic University of America's Faculty Page
Quote:
Montage--juxtaposing images by editing--is unique to film (and now video). During the 1920s, the pioneering Russian film directors and theorists Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov demonstrated the technical, aesthetic, and ideological potentials of montage. The 'new media' theorist Lev Manovich has pointed out how much these experiments of the 1920s underlie the aesthetics of contemporary video.

Eisenstein believed that film montage could create ideas or have an impact beyond the individual images. Two or more images edited together create a "tertium quid" (third thing) that makes the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Eisenstein's greatest demonstration of the power of montage comes in the "Odessa Steps" sequence of his 1925 film Battleship Potemkin. On the simplest level, montage allows Eisenstein to manipulate the audience's perception of time by stretching out the crowd's flight down the steps for seven minutes, several times longer than it would take in real time:

(pics, see page)
The rapid progression and alternation of images gives a sensational event even greater visceral impact:

(more pics)

The famous sequence involving a runaway baby carriage shows Eisenstein using montage to arouse both emotion and ideological consciousness among the film's viewers:

(pics)

At the conclusion of the Odessa Steps sequence, two sequences of images illustrate the notion of the 'tertium quid' as well as the ideological potential of montage. In the first sequence below, the rapid montage of the three cherubs makes the small angel seem to be throwing a punch. In the second sequence, three shots of stone lions, shown rapidly in succession, indicate awakening militancy. In Potemkin, both montages represent a call to the people to rise up against oppression.

And Eisensteins later, sound film, so-called "vertical" or contrapuntal montage-- i e his Mickey Mousing to the soundtrack-- was scarcely his innovation, was in existence far prior to his employment of it, and I find his attachment of the word "montage" to the technique a bit cheeky. What distinguish NEVSKY and his IVAN series lie primarily outside of experimentation within the editing room.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:01 am 

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HerrSchreck wrote:
First off, for those who haven't seen it in awhile, let's refresh our memories.

Wow. Thanks so much.

HerrSchreck wrote:
This, in fact, the absolute core and essence of what it was that I was talking about above as "kinetic celebrations" and referred here to as "rhythmic montage".

Sorry if I was off the prescribed topic, but the kind of narrative temporal manipulation which you point to in the Steps sequence - which in no way was "completely abandoned" in the sound era, though it certainly has been typically employed in less overt ways - is not what I had in mind in citing Eisenstein's concern for "dynamic" montage and in suggesting its importance in film history. Of course, that dynamic montage - "conflict" of direction, space, image size (SE calls this last category "volumes"), was already there in, and crucial to the energy of, the Steps sequence too. Was Eisenstein the first person to juxtapose a horizontally oriented shot and a diagonally oriented one? No. But he did employ such strategies rigorously and consciously and developed interesting and influential theories about such things.

I'm thinking of, for example, the section on Visual Counterpoint in his "Dramaturgy of Film Form" (1929). There, his concerns were already more abstract, more purely visual and psycho-physiological, than the literary associational and temporal manipulations you are pointing out. The development of these concerns is the focus of the interesting collection of later essays, Eisenstein volume 2: Towards a Theory of Montage [BFI], in which all sorts of idiosyncratic ideas, in addition to those that "stuck" - but "stuck" in, it must be said, less radical forms - can be enjoyed.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:44 am 
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yoshimori wrote:
the kind of narrative temporal manipulation which you point to in the Steps sequence - which in no way was "completely abandoned" in the sound era, though it certainly has been typically employed in less overt ways

A good rule I try and hew to when discussing history is to step up to the plate in each case and try to provide examples.

Quote:
in no way was "completely abandoned" in the sound era

is not a substitute for what it is that you are thinking of when you make that statement. Obviously you have something in mind which is causing you to say that. Where in Eisenstein's NEVSKY & IVAN films are you seeing this form of montage (which he himself stated-- you have it just above via Tommasso's kind reproduction-- that this experimental conceit fell out of his own sense of utility with the advent of his entry into sound filmmaking)? If you are going to say that he continued using a device into the sound era which he himself explicitly stated the opposite about, it would be really helpful to the conversation if you'd stay away from generalizations.

Without an example I simply can't say whether or not the "less overt ways" you mention moot the power of the example and become simple modern day montage editing. You have to illustrate- certainly one thing Eisensteins silent / Kinetic / Intellectual montages were not were "covert". They were rather overtly experimental and it's for that very reason that thay found little use in sound era narrative filmmaking.

Please let's try and learn from a notorious example and stay away from statements like .
Quote:
"Disney had his filmmakers study Eisensteins films before making his films",

say "XXXX had XXXX study XXXX by XXXX in XXXX before starting on XXXX,"

or

Quote:
"The baby carriage tumbling down the Odessa Steps, which has nothing to with the technique, has influenced every narrative director in the world,"

say "The ABC sequence-- which has nothing to do with XXXX technique because XXXX technique requires blah blah-- has impressed a large number of directors, with Famous Director Mr. ____ and Famous Directress Mrs. _____ for example exhibiting influence in their ZZZZZ and HHHH films in scenes...."

And rather than getting stuck for nearly six weeks trying scrounge a single twee example to avoid the inevitable after saying,

Quote:
No one's ever said that Eisenstein montage dominates Pandora's Box. What's eluding you is how Pabst incorporates it within a Hollywood/kammerspeil film framework.

start by saying "Pabst clearly shows his Eisenstein influence in Pandora's Box in scenes XXXX, LLLLL, and GGGG which clearly reflect Eisensteins work in film VVVVVV in scenes .... because of the similar employment of unique-to-Eisensein device ________ "


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An interesting example of repetitious editing of a single moment in a sound film is in Peckinpah's Junior Bonner. There is an instance where a bulldozer plows down Steve McQueen's old house. By itself this is not noteworthy, but Peckinpah continually repeats shots, in slow and regular motion, intecutting the action with McQueen's face off with the bulldozer. The time it takes to bulldoze the house in real time is I would guess five to ten seconds. Peckinpah's editing,however, extends the action and repeats key shots and movements as a counterpoint to McQueen's own actions. Linear time is broken and the action itself becomes abstracted (it is, even in the story, a symbolic action). This is considerably strange editing for a Western.

It is different from, say, Peckinpah's editing mode in his shootouts in The Wild Bunch where a single, slowed down moment is intercut with the flow of the regular narrative. In those instances Peckpinpah is not repeating shots so much as isolating a particular movement and following it to its end, though it is intercut with the continuation of the narrative. Time is distended and a moment is isolated. In this moment in Junior Bonner, actions are not isolated and followed to their end; they are repeated and abstracted so that time is not merely distended but broken altogether as though the moment had suddenly jumped out of the actual narrative. As far as the actual sound is concerned, Peckpinpah overcomes the difficulty of matching sounds by having the total noise of the working machinery cover everything.

The opening to Peckinpah's The Getaway is I think an overt use of montage, with rapid cuts between wildlife and jailhouse inmates that works on a purely intellectual rather than emotional level, and is not really about communicating the passage of time. Since I haven't seen the movie in a while I cannot actually go into detail on the kind of cuts beyond the general description above.

Now, I'm going to hesitate to lable anything Eisensteinian or not (because it's been a long time since I saw Potemkin and read Eisenstein's essays and I don't feel like making false or ignorant statements); nevertheless, I think Junior Bonner and many other Peckinpah films have unique moments of montage-like editing within not only sound films, but genre pictures, which I think would make a worthwhile comparison with Eisenstein.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:33 pm 

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I do love the combination of bullying and super-didactic tones in some posts.

But to the point. It now seems to me Mr HerrSchreck and I are talking past each other. Let me see if I can summarize:

I believe he's saying that two techniques ("intellectual" and "kinetic" strategies) played out their usefulness for Eisenstein, that his (3 surviving) last films do not rely on these.*

And I'm suggesting that these techniques - which are the easiest ones to see; I mean, almost any so-called film critic with his or her PhD in English from a second-tier University can catch animated lion statues and non-diegetic cuts to peacocks, etc - were not what made Eisenstein a lasting, important filmmaker and theorist. But rather it's the "dynamic" element, seen already in Potemkin, and also in Nevsky and Ivan, and throughout subsequent film history, that is now SE's main contribution to film production.

[* aside: perhaps by now he's re-thought his suggestion in the very first post of this thread that the advent of sound put these techniques in their coffins. This is not the case. Eisenstein himself may have eschewed it in his last films, but intellectual montage has been used by Lang (famously in Fury) and Godard (Pharaoic sculptures in La Chinoise and countless other times) and in more subtle ways since. Versions of kinetic montage have made it into mainstream narrative and into more aggressive filmmaking too. I just saw last night - in a Japanese film called haru a bullet train speed by a woman; the scene which in real time probably took 4 seconds lasted, through a series of repetitions and other devices, 45 seconds on screen. The night before, I saw that fat Dane-hating Swedish doctor in Kingdom trip over the same stone three times in three different directions, in an illustration both of the repetition HS's associating with "kinetic" montage and of the "dynamic" strategies I'm pointing to.]


Last edited by yoshimori on Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:20 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:40 pm 
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davidhare wrote:
Pasolini literally adopts the contrapuntal music theory in Accatone and Mamma Roma by playing sacred music over proletarian characters.

Or so it would at least have seemed to the bourgeois/catholic audience at the time. But for Pasolini himself, the subproletariat WAS the 'sacred', 'mythical' part of the population, and using that music in those scenes was a means to stress this personal idea. For Pasolini, it would not have been a 'clash of opposites' that would result in a new, unexpected meaning. Thus, I would say, it's not contrapuntal in the Eisensteinian sense (and it also misses the montage of heavily contrasting images), but much rather a highlighting, an underlining of an admittedly unconventional point of view. You might of course argue that for Eisenstein, too, the peacock and that general (whose name escapes me at the moment) belonged naturally together, and was only an unusual combination for the audience. Still I feel (and cannot quite explain it) there's a difference here: perhaps one might call Pasolini's an 'emotional/spiritual montage' as opposed to Eisenstein's "intellectual montage"?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:19 pm 
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You're completely right about Pasolini's intention to "ennoble" the proletariat. He talks about this in Le Ceneri de Gramsci, although he also quotes Eisenstein as an influence. Butr I quite agree the effect of the music ultimately is perhaps only contrapuntal in the context of 60s art house/Festival audiences who weren't used to this disjunction previously.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 3:01 am 
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yoshi take it easy first of all-- nobody is meaning to bully you by the asking of you to provide examples.

On your examples: I've seen (and own) FURY by Lang innumerable times. Nothing leaps to mind but I'll take a look, since you're not being specific.

Although I never go near Godard without a gas mask (that's just me, there's probably a glut of the muck I dig that would eject your vittles inna spray) I'll take your word for it, since it's godard.

Remember the last word in my first post--

Quote:
Though there are probably very limited exceptions here and there I'm sure, the vast bulk of modern emplyments of Eisensteinian montage are patently non-narrative forms of imagemaking.

This topic is veering off into a thousand contentions, aimed at me as if I raised them (Intellectual / rhythmic montage are not what made SE "a lasting important" filmmaer" as combat to my observation about Intellectual montage), so, having made me point, I'm going to pause for some satanic worship and eating of small children.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:33 am 

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HerrSchreck wrote:
I've seen (and own) FURY by Lang innumerable times. Nothing leaps to mind but I'll take a look, since you're not being specific.

Look for clucking chickens. [Apparently this shot isn't as famous as I figured. So sorry.]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:53 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
The sequence retains it's power to stand out today because of the melodrama and pathos of the moment, with the technique (for once) employed to very deeply emotional and instinctual ends, rather than in terms of pure cinematic/experimental tour de force exposition of directorial power, let's face it.

The sequence may be the greatest (and longest) feat of diagonal composition/movement in the history of cinema. Of coure it'a cinematic tour de force.

btw- what do you mean by employing technique to "instinctual ends" exactly?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:46 am 
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The instinct in us all to respond to the death of a mother, and to protect the life of a child, both at the same moment versus faceless killers.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:33 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
The instinct in us all to respond to the death of a mother, and to protect the life of a child, both at the same moment versus faceless killers.

But those instincts arise out of the situation more than the technique. Montage or no, those same events would earn the same instinctual response as you describe above. Those instincts are too general. I believe GringoTex rightly wanted to know how the technique of montage in that sequence is specifically working on instinctual levels (as opposed to whether the situation provokes instinctual responses) rather than intellectual levels.


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