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Film Essays and a Lecture

Film Essays and a Lecture

edited by JAY LEYDA
Foreword by Grigori Kozintsev
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 250
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Film Essays and a Lecture
    Book Description:

    Sergei Eisenstein's greatness lies not only in his films, such as Potemkin or Ivan the Terrible, or his contributions to the technique and art of the cinema but also in his contributions as a theoretician and philosopher of the art. This edition includes a new translation of Eisenstein's essay on Orozco.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5392-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
    (pp. 1-6)
    J. L.
  4. Foreword
    (pp. 7-12)

    An Eisenstein is born but once in a century. Human nature reaches a zenith of spiritual development. An instrument of astonishing responsiveness is formed, unique and never to be duplicated: a genius has been added to mankind. If that man is an artist, his imaginative world leaves a mark on the real world of his time and conquers time itself: some part of his epoch will live on in his art. He does not function as a mirror: the quality of his image of the epoch stirs more than a reflecting surface.

    The art of Eisenstein was inseparable from his...

  5. A Personal Statement written for a Berlin newspaper, 1926
    (pp. 13-17)

    I am twenty-eight years old. Before 1918 I was a student for three years. At first I wanted to become an engineer and architect. During the civil war I was a sapper in the Soviet Army. While doing that work I spent any free time in studying questions of art and theatre: in particular theatre history and theory. In 1921 I entered the Proletcult organization as a theatre designer. The Proletcult Theatre busily sought new art forms that would correspond to the ideology of the new Russian state structure. Our troupe was composed of young workers who wished to create...

  6. The Method of Making Workers’ Films
    (pp. 17-20)

    There is onemethodfor makinganyfilm: montage of attractions. To know what this is and why, see the book,Cinema Today,¹ where, rather dishevelled and illegible, my approach to the construction of film works is described.

    Our class approach introduces:

    1. Aspecific purpose for the work—a socially useful emotional and psychological affect on the audience; this to be composed of a chain of suitably directed stimulants. Thissocially useful affectI call thecontent of the work.

    It is thus possible, for example, to define thecontentof a production.Do You Hear, Moscow?: the maximum tension...

  7. Soviet Cinema
    (pp. 20-32)

    In a militant and active culture, the subject of this book, bookkeeping and statistics cannot occupy the central place. In this matter one must be intolerant, implacable, fundamental. Nor is this a question yet to be shelved in archives. We must be prepared daily for quarrels, mistakes, corrections and fresh mistakes.

    I shall use the section of the book that has been allotted to me for an analysis, according to my principles, of that section of Soviet culture where I have worked for seven out of its ten years of existence (three years in the theatre and four years in...

  8. The New Language of Cinema
    (pp. 32-35)

    Soviet cinema has now arrived at the most curious stage of its development.

    More than this.

    I believe that only now can we begin to hazard a guess concerning the ways in which a genuine Soviet cinema will be formed, i.e. a cinema which not only will be opposed to bourgeois cinema in respect of its class attributes, but will also categoricallyexcelit by virtue ofits methods. Not long ago I expressed the view that cinematography began its career by making use of popular literature (of the detective-story genre), through the system of highly sophisticated theatrical art (the...

  9. Perspectives
    (pp. 35-48)

    In the hurly-burly of crises, imagined and real,

    in the chaos of discussions, serious or worthless (example : “to work with or without actors?”),

    there is a need—with scissors clenched in fist—to move film culture forward, together with the need to make it immediately accessible to all.

    In the jostlings and contradictions between the urgency to find forms equal in height with the post-capitalist forms of our socialist construction and the cultural capacity of the class that is creating this construction,

    in the steady fundamental direction towards an immediacy of communication to masses and the understanding by millions,...

  10. The Dynamic Square
    (pp. 48-66)

    Mr Chairman, Gentlemen of the Academy,

    I think this actual moment is one of the great historical moments in the pictorial development of the screen. At the moment when incorrect handling of sound is at the point of ruining thepictorialachievements of the screen—and we all know only too many examples where this actually has been done!—the arrival of the wide screen with its opportunities for a new screen shape throws us once more headlong into questions of purely spatial composition. And much more—it affords us the possibility of reviewing and re-analysing the whole aesthetic of...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. GTK—GIK—VGIK; Past—Present—Future
    (pp. 66-77)

    The anniversary of the Cinema Institute has a special importance, for nowhere else in the world is there a film school on such a scale. There’s nothing like our Institute, neither in the film-Babylon of Hollywood nor in the countless other Babylons of the world’s film industries.

    The reason for this strange circumstance should be obvious. It is not for lack of means in America, nor of raw film in Germany, nor of the wish to leam in England. Such an institute could be born and could function only in the Land of the Soviets. Only here were swept away...

  13. Lessons from Literature
    (pp. 77-84)

    It is our responsibility to put into practice Lenin’s great directive on our cultural heritage. We must learn how to do it—for too many of us do not know. In our profession it is especially complicated, for the cinema has nodirectancestors.

    To write “in imitation of Tolstoi” or “in imitation of Hemingway” is, comparatively, easy. Nor is this so silly as it may sound. For everything begins with imitation. We know instances of writers transcribing entire masterworks. This is not a naïve undertaking. This is a way of finding themovementof another, perhaps a classical, writer,...

  14. The Embodiment of a Myth
    (pp. 84-91)

    My latest work has been on the production of the operaThe Valkyriein the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the largest and finest opera house in the Soviet Union. As a cinema director I was quite surprised when one day the Art Director of the Bolshoi Theatre rang me up and invited me to produceThe Valkyrie. I had never worked in a musical theatre before, although over twenty years ago I had experimented in the legitimate theatre. Nevertheless, I accepted the offer. Now that, after eight months of work on this production, the date of the première of the...

  15. More Thoughts on Structure
    (pp. 92-108)

    In writing my book on direction I have noticed, among other questions, a curious fact. Namely, that in the realm of composition a dialectical position usually, somehow, finds its unity in opposition.

    It finds its reflection in this circumstance, thatfor any given composition using a direct solution there are also equally correct and impressive solutions that are in direct opposition.

    This phenomenon can also be found in the richest expressive manifestations of mankind—in nature itself.

    Thus, for example, in a moment of terror a man not only retreats from the cause of his terror, but just as often,...

  16. Charlie the Kid
    (pp. 108-139)

    The Kid. The name of this most popular of Chaplin’s films is worthy to stand beside his own name; it helps to reveal his character just as the names, “The Conqueror”, “The Lion Heart”, or the “Terrible”, themselves designate the spirit of William who conquered the Great Britain of the future, the legendary courage of Richard of the Crusades, or the cunning Moscovite Tsar, Ivan IV Vasilievich.

    Neither Direction; nor Method; nor Tricks; nor Comic Technique: none of these things move me. I do not wish to probe these things.

    In considering Chaplin, one’s main aim must be to fathom...

  17. Mr Lincoln by Mr Ford
    (pp. 139-149)

    Suppose some truant Good Fairy were to ask me, “As I’m not employed just now, perhaps there’s some small magic job I could do for you, Sergei Mikhailovich? Is there some American film that you’d like me to make you the author of—with a wave of my wand?”

    I would not hesitate to accept the offer, and I would at once name the film that I wish I had made. It would beYoung Mr Lincoln,directed by John Ford.*

    There are films that are richer and more effective. There are films that are presented with more entertainment and...

  18. A Close-Up View
    (pp. 150-155)

    Everyone knows—though many forget—that cinema offers various camera positions, known as:

    long shot, medium shot,andclose-up

    And we know that these shot-dimensions express varying viewpoints on phenomena.

    The long shot conveys the general scope of the phenomenon.

    The medium shot places the spectator in an intimate relationship to the players on the screen: he feels in the same room with them, on the same divan beside them, around the same tea-table.

    And finally, with the help of the close-up (the enlarged detail), the spectator plunges into the most intimate matters on the screen: a flinching eye-lash, a...

  19. Problems of Composition
    (pp. 155-183)

    In this semester we have touched the most varied questions of composition. We have spoken about the general significance of composition, about the rôle of imagery in composition, and we have studied it in passages from Pushkin’s works, where we tried to translate his poetry into montage-lists or into detailed plans for action. What should be our next problem?

    Scenario material as received by directors often has a certain compositional fragmentation that tends to reduce its expressiveness. How can we take scenario material of such compositional friability and give it a firm structure and a compositional style?

    I want to...

  20. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  21. Sources and Notes
    (pp. 184-187)
  22. Appendices

    • APPENDIX A The Published Writings (1922-1982) of Sergei Eisenstein with notes on their English translations
      (pp. 188-221)
    • APPENDIX B The Prometheus of Mexican Painting
      (pp. 222-232)
  23. Index
    (pp. 233-236)