Cinema Studies, Innis College, University of Toronto

Lecture Outlines 1999-2000

Professor Kay Armatage, Innis College Rm 224
Tel. 416-978-8572; Fax 416-978-5503;

Oct. 25 - Soviet Theory: Dialectical Montage

Eisenstein as Formalist Theorist
-  form as a transformation of the material in tandem with the work’s social tasks. Form also represents the perceptible dimension of the work

Eisenstein’s Intellectual Milieu re Montage
- To the machine–based sense of montage the Constructivist ethos linked a second one . that is, assembling materials in a way that generates a degree of friction among them
- Kuleshov: offered no explanation for these phenomena.
- Pudovkin: certain editing devices are transpositions of ordinary perceptual acts
- Formalist literary critics:  Approaching film as a system of inter-related components, the formalists studied how formal devices transformed material and accomplished particular functions.

 Eisenstein’s Theories of Montage
- Kuleshov
- Formalists
- Constructivists
-  E concentrates upon the ways in which expressive movement and shot juxtaposition can arouse the viewer's senses and emotions
- Late 20’s expands his theoretical view. Perceptual and emotional effects remain central, but how cinema can provoke ideas comes into the fore.
––His aim: a synthesis of right-thinking and emotional transport. (Science and art)

Three Stage Process
- passing from perception, to emotion, to cognition.
- The artist is a calculator of stimulants, choosing and arranging them for maximum physiological impact.

Film Language
- the shot can also be considered a depictive sign.
- Compares cinema to the Japanese writing system (last week)
- Figurative Process: starting point of intellectual cinema

Dialectical Montage
a) Influence of Lenin & Engels: Dialectics
- Engels’ Dialectics of Nature (1925 ); same year, Lenin's notes On the Question of Dialectics
b) Dialectics & Film Form
- Constructivist belief that factors composing the individual image can be considered as dynamic elements flung together in tense juxtaposition.
- conflicts within the frame.

Elements of Montage
a) montage cell
b) montage proper
c) level of emotion
d) concept and metaphor
- nb: scheme corresponds to the three stage model of perception/affect/cognition

- although the dialectical side of E's story is conceptually weak, I would say it bears fruit at the level of practical poetics. He suggests how the filmmaker might think in frames.

Generation of Abstract Meanings
a) The Concept of the Dominant
- ‘The Filmic Fourth Dimension’ proposes, instead of conflict between equal forces within the shot, that every cut juxtaposes two shots on the basis of some salient feature, what he calls the dominant.
b) Overtones
- juxtaposing shots according to some dominant automatically creates elusive but rich relations among succeeding shot’ overtones.

Types of Montage in Relation to the Dominant
1. Metric montage -arouses the most primitive kinesthetic effect, such as the tapping of a foot, or rocking of the body.
2. Rhythmic Montage - triggers a ‘primitive emotional effect
3. Tonal Montage - yields something of a higher physiological order, a melodic–emotional response 
4. Overtonal Montage - repeats at a higher level the motor effect of metric montage, since in music a thorough going organization of timbres will create emergent beats, 
5. Intellectual Montage -triggers the spectator's concept–forming processes, although these too must be seen as no less physiological than the other types.

Relation to Dialectics

Conclusion: Eisenstein's Contribution to Film Theory

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