Montage theory: Eisenstein, Vertov, & Hitchcock
1: Eisenstein & montage
2: Vertov & montage
3. Hitchcock & montage
the Kuleshov effect

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:



The rapid progression and alternation of images gives a sensational event even greater visceral impact:
The famous sequence involving a runaway baby carriage shows Eisenstein using montage to arouse both emotion and ideological consciousness among the film's viewers:
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.

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