Comm. 368 – 4:00 class
Sergei Eisenstein’s Theory of Montage
Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of montage suggests that a greater visceral impact can be achieved from a collision of opposing images rather than their linkage, as Pudovkin suggests. This is to say that when two opposing images are shown next to each other, a new and more dramatic third product is created--this synthesis occurring from the opposition between the thesis and the antithesis, e.g., a close-up of woman blankly staring at an unknown object followed by a cut to a painting equals a third product—women expressing awe; whereas, if the second image was that of a dead person, the synthesis creates a women mourning--this synthesis, or the whole, becoming greater than any sum of its parts, and as Eisenstein believes, is the purpose of montage—to stimulate the audience.
Within his theory there are five methods of montage: metric—where the editing is based upon a specific number of frames, with faster or shorter pieces creating excitement; rhythmic—where editing is based upon perceived length, e.g., close-ups appear to last longer than wide shots; tonal—where editing is based upon the grouping of shots with shared emotional meaning or tone, e.g., the match cut of the bone to the spacecraft in 2001; overtonal—which is similar to tonal, but considers the accumulative effect of a larger sum of images; and the intellectual montage--in which the images combine to elicit intellectual thought, e.g., a shot of a leader followed by one of a lion to synthesis an image of him as possessing great strength and courage.
Pudovkin’s theory of montage centers on the idea that it is the linking of the images that most effectively moves the audience, not their collision, and the duty of montage is more to direct the viewer than to stimulate. His theory is that of a “building block” approach, where each shot builds upon the last to inflate the final product, e.g., the use of the...