Editing/Montage/Soviet Film Theory

February 21st, 2010

In this weeks reading, it discusses the concept of montage. Montage is the editing of many different images or videos complied to create a whole piece of art. I love montages because there is so much to learn from why each image or video is part of the montage. Here is a montage of my personal favorite Saturday Night Live skit, Celebrity Jeopardy:


Back to the reading, I found it interesting what Pudovkin said about editing. He states that character development takes place during the editing of a film, rather than what the actors perform in front of the camera. This got me thinking that the way life is now, fans of films fall in love with celebrities because of their work. But who directed them? Who put it all together? It is the people behind the scenes, the editor, director, producer… that make a film a masterpiece. But when I think of it, the only time an editor, who according to Pudovkin, creates a character, is recognized for his work is at award shows and most people don’t even pay attention to them.

He also says that the foundation for film art is editing. Clearly he has a strong view on the editing of a film. I agree with him. Now that I’ve taken many film classes, I see films in a new light, not just watching the actors, but watching the cinematography of a film. He sees film as a real “thing”, that is built, not shot. It takes a real genius to edit something to perfection and the audience takes it for granted.

Vertov says that in order to understand the effect a film has on a viewer, we must look at the viewer and what kind effect we are discussing. That makes sense because when people discuss a film, they discuss the effect in general, when really each person is effected differently. I enjoyed this because I never thought of it like that.

According to Eisenstein, art is always a conflict because of its social mission, its nature, and its methodology. I know this is supposed to sound really deep and I feel like I would love this saying but I don’t really understand it.

Any thoughts??

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6 Responses to “Editing/Montage/Soviet Film Theory”

  1. elliotzahler on February 22, 2010 10:21 am

    Hi Lauren,
    I like what you said about how crucial the editing process is. I think it is the least noticed effort that goes into film. We as an audience just notice the actors and setting. Really the core of a film is the editing. Editing includes the graphical and audio aspects which make the movie great. We learned from previous media classes how difficult editing is, but how important it is.

  2. Amy Herzog on February 22, 2010 2:26 pm

    Yes, I agree that editing in contemporary film culture is vastly under-appreciated.

    One thing to think about here is the social and political context in which these authors are writing. The emphasis on issues of conflict and social mission in art have everything to do with the objectives of film makers during the early years of the Soviet experiment– supporting the revolution.

    In some ways, what all these authors advocate is for a montage style that is abrupt, even shocking, in the combination (or collision) of different kinds of images. In Hollywood narrative films edits tend to be smooth and feel seamless (hence our tendency to gloss over the edits, and to ignore the work of editors). But montage in Soviet films is jarring– it is supposed to jerk us awake, raise our consciousness, and spur us to take part in the political cause.

  3. christina421 on February 25, 2010 3:12 am

    I completely agree with your statement about editing going unnoticed, especially here in the United States. Of course the editors follow the conventions of the Classical Hollywood style which is supposed to be seamless and if it follows through to the conventions of this style then we are NOT supposed to notice it. I would love to become an editor and as Prof. Herzog explained with Soviet filmmaking, Eisenstein proves how powerful editing is in the filmmaking world. If only the editors of today could attempt to use editing or montage to stun us or make us aware of the effects of such editing techniques, I would say it would be absolutely refreshing to see. I can’t say I know of any phenomenal editors but what I can say is that I think our American editors could spruce things up. Because we are film students, it is much easier to identify certain techniques and maybe if editors pulled an Eisenstein on the American audience, they wouldn’t know how to embrace it. In agreement with Elliot, editing is probably the most difficult if not the most time consuming. Editors, unfortunately, rarely get credit for the endless hours spent in front of a computer screen and monitor condensing lengthy footage into less than 3 hours.

  4. msbeatty on February 25, 2010 4:25 pm

    I love how Eisenstein describes the medium of film as the embodiment of Marx’s dialectical materialism. With each frame set in conflict with the frame next to it, the cuts are, in a sense, in conflict with each other. It’s only through the struggle between the two frames that we, as viewers, gain any understanding. The synthesis of the two frames creates a meaning greater than each could hold on their own, and by surrendering control of the process to the viewer (who is the one doing the synthesizing, after all), Eisenstein frames cinema as the most immediate art form.

  5. btrachtenberg100 on March 1, 2010 9:49 pm

    From a surrealists perspective, its true that film is the product of the collaboration of the conscious and dream realities. Being that art is the reflection of our innermost expressions, and most of those feelings are based off our everyday experiences, its not really surprising that people wont agree with your perspective.
    The fact that film seemingly photocopies reality in such a minipulative manner makes it a prime candidate for controversy. The art of montage is so powerful in its ability to direct our attentions as well as guide our emotions. This direction is what makes montage such a powerful weapon. The mind of a critical individual can conjur up some frightening things, and to some people there is nothing more scary than change. The art of montage is subtle but it doesnt go unnoticed.

  6. Troy Augustine on April 8, 2013 7:43 pm

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

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