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Thoughts on the works of Sergei M. Eisenstein Anonymous 09/02/2020 (Wed) 20:15:27 No.656
[JW22 ~ 09/03/2019] >Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was a Soviet film director and film theorist, a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage. The son of an affluent architect, Eisenstein attended the Institute of Civil Engineering in Petrograd as a young man. With the fall of the tsar in 1917, he worked as an engineer for the Red Army. In the following years, Eisenstein joined up with the Moscow Proletkult Theater as a set designer and then director. The Proletkult's director, Vsevolod Meyerhold, became a big influence on Eisenstein, introducing him to the concept of biomechanics, or conditioned spontaneity. Eisenstein furthered Meyerhold's theory with his own "montage of attractions"--a sequence of pictures whose total emotion effect is greater than the sum of its parts. He later theorized that this style of editing worked in a similar fashion to Marx's dialectic. Though Eisenstein wanted to make films for the common man, his intense use of symbolism and metaphor in what he called "intellectual montage" sometimes lost his audience. Though he made only seven films in his career, he and his theoretical writings demonstrated how film could move beyond its nineteenth-century predecessor--Victorian theatre-- to create abstract concepts with concrete images. Eisenstein's completed feature films include: Strike (1925) Battleship Potemkin (1925) October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928) The General Line (1929) Alexander Nevsky (1938) Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1944) Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1945) Incompleted films: ¡Que viva México! (A version was completed, edited, and released in 1979 by Eisenstein's co-director Grigori Aleksandrov) Bezhin Meadow (lost, only exists as a slideshow now) Ivan the Terrible, Part III (what was completed was destroyed) Short films: Glumov's Diary (1923) Romance Sentimentale (1930) El Desastre en Oaxaca (1931) I believe most people are introduced to Sergei Eisenstein through Battleship Potemkin, which remains one of the most popular works of the 1920s and continues to be shown in film schools and film appreciation courses. Some of these classes might not show the entirety of Battleship Potemkin, but what they always show students is the massacre on the Odessa steps as this sequence remains an effective application of the montage, with the cuts set to a machine-like tempo between the Cossacks and government cavalry and the fleeing crowd of unarmed civilians. It's designed to push emotional buttons more than anything else, and for this reason I think that's why Battleship Potemkin never resonated with me, even after watching it a few times. Many of Eisenstein's other works were much more advanced than Battleship Potemkin, which makes me wonder why schools only teach Battleship Potemkin and usually skim over his later films. Perhaps it's simply because Battleship Potemkin is easier to get into? Look at something like Strike, which released before Battleship Potemkin. The montage of the rioting workers at the end of the movie alternates with footage of a cow being slaughtered. You have these two seemingly unrelated scenes, but alternating between them gives the full sequence a whole new language and meaning, suggesting that the rioting workers are being slaughtered just like the helpless cow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWiDciPuSW4
After Battleship Potemkin, Eisenstein would make October, which has some of the most advanced use of intellectual montage I've seen. The God montage in October is fascinating because of how Soviets denied religion, and you can see that effectively in this sequence. It takes all these different idols from separate religions and diminishes them in a way that's distinctly Soviet to say that religion prevents revolution (the footage of the Tsar monument which was destroyed near the beginning of the movie is reversed, making the connection between Tsarist monarchy and religion). Perhaps this is abstract enough that others can find different meanings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw2chy64m34 The General Line aka Old and New might be the ugliest movie of Eisentein's in terms of the manipulative one sided propaganda. Agrarian collectivization is promoted, which would eventually lead to dekulakization. How many millions of Soviet peasant farmers were killed off because Stalin thought it was a good idea to bring agriculture under state control? Farmers could never keep up with the high demands of urban industrialization in Soviet Russia, which made Stalin think the collectivized farmers were getting lazy, so he would deport them away, send them far north to Siberia, or kill them. Millions of people starved. When you move away from the political angle of The General Line, the editing technique and montage Eisenstein is known for seems as basic as Potemkin. The creamer scene has a decent rhythm but it's made to be emotionally manipulative like the Odessa steps massacre in Potemkin. There's another scene where a large bull is superimposed over a field of cattle, and the field is seminated, suggesting growth, but this is much more basic than the God montage in October or the slaughtering of the bull and the crowd in Strike. I also found Alexander Nevsky to be disappointing. The action in this is not up to par with the standard that October set. You can see that Eisenstein was influenced by D.W. Griffith's Way Down East for the battle on the lake ice in Alexander Nevsky, but the painted backdrops and the styrofoam lake ice in Alexander Nevsky take me out of the action. Alexander Nevsky is too staged and doesn't have the clever intellectual montage that made me attracted to films like Strike or October. The score by Sergei Prokofiev is excellent, at least. What are your thoughts on Eisenstein? He is among one of the more influential and important directors of the film industry. It makes me sad to see that people tend to pass up or ignore his works outside of Battleship Potemkin. I think every aspiring filmmaker should study his films, especially October. It seems "founding father" directors like Eisenstein and Griffith are becoming more forgotten as time goes on, and people favor the New Hollywood directors these days such as Martin Scorsese or Stanley Kubrick while remaining ignorant of those who came before. Perhaps I am preaching to the choir here. Unfortunately I have not yet seen Ivan the Terrible, but when it comes to Eisenstein, my personal preference is October: Ten Days That Shook the World > ¡Que viva México! > Romance Sentimentale > Strike > Battleship Potemkin > Alexander Nevsky > The General Line
I have not explored Eisenstein's filmography as much as you have, so my general assessment is probably not unique. For me the biggest problem is that his propaganda is too blatant. Whenever a director tries to hammer a message into your head, you'll notice what is happening and you can easily dismiss it. A more effective technique is to nudge the viewer in a certain direction to let them think they are drawing their own conclusion. Nevsky was the first Eisenstein I watched, and yes it was a bit disappointing due to some of the clumsy messaging and the poor production quality. However it's interesting to see a film depicting the Soviet fear of a Nazi invasion, which is of course what happened a short time later. I haven't seen Way Down East yet, I remember it as one of the first DW Griffith films available in HD, but now you've got me interested to watch it and see the similarities.
Monoskop has pdfs of many of his writings https://monoskop.org/Sergej_M._Eisenstein
>>657 >Agrarian collectivization is promoted, which would eventually lead to dekulakization. I'm wondering how long was collectivization a Soviet propaganda priority? I've seen collective farming praised in a couple films made nearly three decades after Eisenstein's The General Line. For such a lingering topic, I have to assume the Soviet authorities had difficulty selling the policy to the public. The 1958 Dovzhenko/Solntseva filmPoem of the Sea begins as a story of a man's return to his birthplace in Ukraine. The village is preparing to be demolished and relocated to make way for a large public works project -- a manmade lake. Eventually, out of nowhere, characters discuss the wonders of collective farming. Another character has a throwaway line "Famine is forgotten." I was surprised to see this topic mentioned at all. Furthermore, downplaying the Holodomor seems at odds with Dovzhenko's blood and soil Ukrainian identity that's evident in his stories.
I just watched his short El desastre en Oaxaca (1931) which captures the aftermath of an earthquake. https://uloz.to/file/EPTv5KO2iTP9/ The documentary was shot and screened in just two days, so it's quite interesting to see the approach of a skilled director under such circumstances. The most memorable aspect is the way in which Eisenstein highlights the egalitarianism of natural disasters. I was also a little surprised to see his favorable depiction of Oaxacan Catholics compared to how poorly religion is portrayed in other Eisenstein films.
One of my greatest favs in history of cinema. Most of his work is sublime, but the absurd quality of Ivan The Terrible and Alexander Nevsky pretty much ascended cinema and other artistic levels. In my opinion the loss of Bezhin Meadow was one of the worst events in history of cinema. Also in his writing he shits on his early movies for bullshit revolutionarism (THROUGH THEATHER TO CINEMA). Of course, a lot of credit must be given to Prokofiev and Tisse as they allowed him for creation of these sublime works, and there are soviet directors who do individual aspects of his work better, but I am yet to somebody who does overall shit better than him.
>>662 wow, what a shame. I hadn't heard about that before but it looks great. fantastic beards.
>Battleship Potemki Terribly nauseating, insipid piece of Soviet propaganda. Maybe it influenced all the other nauseating, insipid propaganda films, who knows? In that case, I despise it even more. Battleship Potemkin is so caricatured, overblown, and heavy-handed as to be comical. Hardly the intended effect, I think... Am I supposed to be impressed with the editing, when what I came to see, namely the story and the actual shots, are uninspiring garbage? Sorry, but I am a viewer of movies, not a filmmaker, and I like to be entertained when possible. Technical breakthrough alone is not enough. Unless you're an avowed communist (lol) or a wannabe "revolutionary", this film holds little merit. Personally, all I could think about was the farce of Soviet ideals when fattened sailors are willing to die a glorious death for "tastier borsch." Not a decade after this film, millions died in Ukraine (much of the action here takes place in Odessa) during the Holodomor famine, shriveled in the streets with nothing to eat thanks to Soviet ideals... You know, actual starvation, instead of discontent with military rations and disrespect from superior officers (i.e. the story of every soldier ever). Now THAT is a story which could and probably should be told with revolutionary intent. There are dozens of better silent films out there, some earlier and some later. Only two years later we have Metropolis, which intelligently addresses issues like economic inequality, and definitively puts this Bolshevik travesty to shame. The Swedes, yes, even the tiny nation of Sweden, had already progressed far beyond this. They combined technical progress with subtlety of atmosphere and storytelling. It's unfortunate, because the Soviets produced many beautiful, iconic films. This just isn't one of them. It's not even Sergei Eisenstein's best film, because I watched Ivan the Terrible, and that film is powerful, emotionally captivating and inspiring.
>>663 >written by Izaak Babel >music by Prokofiev fam it would be crazy good >>664 I recommend reading the essay I have mentioned as it shows how Eisenstein was unsatisfied with his all early Leninist propaganda films and how collective heroes and anti-theatre idea in that early soviet 'avant-garde'. Also kind of kudos to Stalin for ending the 'avant-garde' and accepting the ideas from western 'bourgeois' cinema.
Montage in of itself isn't bad but this kike ruined cinema of the past's future (inadvertently), and while Battleship Potemkin isn't a bad move it's overrated and a fictional propaganda film which is a subversive thing to do on top of that.
>>666 I'm not fond of Eisenstein's almost cult of personality but he had his merits (along with Griffith) but to call him a jew is going past it, ironically i read about his father before him and the guy was a good architect from Riga. He had a jewish name in one of the most pozzed cities in terms of jewish antics (one of the ex-capitals of the Teutons that fell into decadence) but he was one of the few christians in the city with a good job, somewhat of a bourgeois and went with the monarchists when the revolution came about, which Sergei didn't like a lot and set him aside like a true snake (his pop was a single father who pampered him if his riches are valid evidence). Man went to Germany and died there soon after. Now that i think of it Sergei's best work is a piece fully against the teutons, the ones who build his home town, not to mention his dad seems to have an appreciation for them (spoke german, studied germanic/austrian architects like Loos' functionalism and Wagner's Viennese Secession school, retired there after the civil war) Reading some info to check if i didn't screw up it seems some guy in a university said he was born a jew. Yet he converted to orthodox, practiced, married a christian and was buried in christian grounds. Going crypto is normal for a rat but it doesn't make sense for me to go at such lengths and not play the cards when the big moment came about (bolshevik uprising), he was already respected in the higher strata and in one of the most kosher cities around, his conversion doesn't seem to have granted any kind of interests IF it happened anyways, university investigations regarding personal details are very often hear-say and jews convert anyone if they want to brag about him, and Mikhail's work was very fine in its day. The more i read about Sergei, the more i dislike him. Polite sage for somewhat off-topic.
[End of Dump JW22 ~ 01/06/2020]
>>666 >ruined cinema of the past's future Care to go into further detail about what you mean?
>After his death, the doctor conducting the post-mortem on Eisenstein's body opened up his skull and asked a colleague, "What did this guy do for a living?" His colleague said he made films. "How many did he make?" asked the doctor. "Eight," came the reply. "What a pity! With a brain like this he could have discovered a new theory of relativity." Source: https://www.scribd.com/document/251820754/montage-als-metafoor-pdf >>667 To deride him as a kike was too harsh then. I heard he also renounced his early propaganda films. >>994 Montage in of itself, for stylized sequences or short scenes and such, isn't a bad thing but as to shoot an entire conventional movie or as standard technique with numerous unnecessary cuts for one ruins the film's integrity to be taken seriously and makes it imbecilic. Granted I've only seen it in movies that were trashy or kitsch to begin with but a lot could've been decent if they didn't cut so much.
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He was a genius, and a weirdo, and kind of gay. His drawings are... something
>>1004 heh, is that like when a woman is 'kind of' pregnant anon?
>>1004 I knew a Jew drew this before I even saw who the thread was about.
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>>1004 He seemed to have a bit of a thing for the actor Mikhail Kuznetsov, annoyingly staringa t him for an hour before asking him if he wanted to star in Ivan the Terrible, and having him sing and dance around in a dress: >https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tcPBx3O_H4
Bezhin Meadow slideshow restoration Too bad the English subs only apply to English audio and intertitles. There's a few minutes of untranslated Russian at the beginning. They say this film was lost when a bomb hit Mosfilm studios in WWII. Plot points were moved around in different versions of the story. I have doubts this is the most effective sequence of events, but at least you get an idea of what the film could have been. mega.nz/file/CR9xmI5J#ajZsForkIYjXSUYHXmTgw1gyBYgV_uwtaUMd2pdjaXg
>>1009 Rus anon here. What part needs to be translated?
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>>1010 Cool thanks! During this introduction a man describes the history of the project. There's an English overdub but it stops for some reason at 01:48.
>>1011 "One of the main tragic conflicts of modernity - the clash of the old, antiquated, bitterly defensive Russian countryside hamlet with the hamlet of the new age, the soviet socialistic one. In the image of the Pioneer's father - disheveled like Tsebaoth, menacing and surrounded by black evil hags - he saw the old Russia. While the new Russia was embodied in the image of the Pioneer himself. As if enlightened by the sun of tomorrow and supported by communists and komsomols of the new hamlet of the Soviet country. Eisenstein considered the ideological concentration of the film the scene of refitting the church into a club. The religious pathos, embodied in such famous imagery like crucifixion and deposition; like Samson destroying the temple above his head, clashed with the pathos of the new - of cheerful and joyous popular collective action. The first draft of the film, seen in its incomplete state and with seriously ill Eisenstein absent, was heavily criticized. Eisenstein always tried to respond to that criticism in a creative fashion and so began his reworking of the film. Together with screenwriter Babel' he rewrote the script and replaced the actor playing the father, as well as a few others. Instead of the scene at the church, which was particularly heavily criticized, he introduced a dynamic scene of firefighting at kolhoz set ablaze by kulaks (peasants). But this second draft Eisenstein was also unable to complete - filming was shut down. Later, the sole copy of the film burned down in bombing of Mosfilm during the war. Only these film scraps remained together with some photographs and sketches. Those were then used for reconstruction."
>>1028 Awesome, thanks a lot. The restoration has an (excellent) kolhoz fire scene leading into the church scene. Since that sequencing was awkward, it makes sense that both scenes were not intended to be used in the film. The church ransacking would probably upset most people, yet the film tries to portray it as a good thing. A hard sell -- no wonder there was criticism.
>>1029 No problem.
Does anyone here conveniently have Eistenstein's script for Ivan the Terrible Part 3, or have read it?
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>>1163 Yes, here it is >This is my first scan of a book, done with an ordinary scanner, not with a camera on a tripod. All pages are readable and OCR'ed, but in the last 160 pages I've changed the settings of my scanning program (Omnipage prof. 17) to automatic/greyscale/300dpi which looked better. If there's a better or easier way, please let me know. >The book contains the shootings scripts of parts one and two and a 40 page script of the complete part three. https://mega.nz/file/7A8mkJqJ#VGoR0RNlPV9yIMtJvjnQtJ6MaeCctO8BG0eM8VRFGtg
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>>1167 >that cathedral scene Aaaa, this could have been amazing, too bad Stalin cancelled it and Eisenstein never got to complete his masterpiece. God it hurts. I didn't actually expect a reply. Thank you so much anon, you are an angel
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any russian reading anons who happen to have some spare time on their hand to translate this?: >23 мая 1942 года. Вчера был у меня Кузнецов 16 - накануне прекрасно удалась лепка Федора в опричном костюме. Вчерне проходили роль. Давно знаю, что один кусочек пробела в роли еще есть. Не хватает и ему. Докапываемся: отношения к нему Ивана! Verflucht **. Именпо этого, что надо обойти. Надо, чтобы любил. Надо, чтобы отношения отец и сын между Иваном и Федором зазвучали Надо сцену между И[ваном] и Ф[едором] вдвоем. Сегодня с утра додумываю. Федор - Ersatz * Анастасии. Но в "историческом" плане и "фактическом". А надо - в моральном. Грубо-ёрнически этот мотив давно прочерчен: машкер и сарафан в чем-то напоминают Анастасию! Но и возвышенно: глаза мертвой Анастасии закрыты, и вместо них в темноте горят глаза Федора. Надо еще очень острую Ersatz сцену. Федор должен нести ту же абсолютную чистоту -"уста младенца", голубиность - на которой Иван "проверяет" себя около Анастасии. Ersatz так Ersatz: сцену надо делать в светлице Анастасии. Над пустой постелью, целиком сохраненной в нетронутости после ее смерти. С той же дугой - нимбом лампад, в центре которого ее уже нет **... Моление о чаше, которым я всегда называл покаяние, а оно, конечно, здесь! Значит, связать надо с началом казней. Но... в поисках "редкого" (реденького) места в сценарии - как раз здесь одно из очень немногих. После blow *** от Малюты (насчет "плебисцита" 17) Иван бежит к Анастасии. "Да минует меня чаша сия",- говорит он. "Не минует",- говорит... Федор! Иван оборачивается. 512 "Да и чаши нынче больше для яду...". Вскочил Иван. Глянул. Пред иконой - чаша. "Отравили..."- шепчет. Кричит: "Отравили голубицу мою?!" (Этот мотив тоже очень мучил отсутствием. Пишет же об этом Иван в эпистолиях, и вообще неладно, что не было). С Иваном готовится припадок. Федор схватывает его. Глядит в глаза Ивана: "Твердым будь"... Хороший shift ****: эти слова были раньше у Малюты! "Ее слова!" "Ею при тебе буду!" "Сын!" Целует в губы, отпускает. Шепчет Федор: "Отец..." Кричит Иван: "За Анастасии кровь с изменников спросим!" >Федор "силен", когда он "неземной"- а у подлеца Кузнецова это в облике получается. Как только лезет в "дела"- качурится. Как только касается мелкой стороны страстей борьбы - не выходит. На Опр[ичном] дворе - внутренний разлад с Иваном (на этом базируется беспокойство не только отца, но и Федора на пиру в Алекс[андровой] слоб[оде]). Знамение "сползания" Федора с "неземного" уровня - костюм "Анастасии" на нем, а не высшие функции Анастасии в нем! (Quite possible that something happened in between. The line of Vautrin suppressing the line of Seraphita\ **) У Кузнецова в черном кафтане, [с] темными подклеенными волосами при светлых глазах чисто "эзотерический" вид (Seraphite!); [он] похож на боттичеллиевского Джулпано Медичи! My curiosity is killing me and google translate is sketchy
>>1480 Do you have a link to the original text? It's out of context. Like are random english words and phrases here part of the actual original writing?
>>1480 here: www.fedy-diary(.)ru/html/052012/16052012-03a(.)html and yes the english and german is from Eisenstein himself
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Is this board still alive? Anyway, I too love history, kabuki theatre, Mei Lanfang, Mikhail Kuznetsovs face, and cross dressing dudes So what are some other things he found interesting?
>>1491 I guess its still alive but if three years ago the unique visitors were in the hundreds, now its definitely in the tens
>>1493 time to shill again
>>1494 A dangerous game but might as well now that we are on the verge. Where do you plan on doing that? just curious not that i will belittle you or anything.

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