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Intellectual montage

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Intellectual montage

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Intellectual montage is an alternative to continuity editing proposed by Sergei Eisenstein where a new idea emerges from a sequence of shots and where the new idea is not originally found in any of the individual shots.

This style of editing offers discontinuity in graphic qualities, violations of the 180 degree rule, and the creation of impossible spatial matches. It is not concerned with the depiction of a comprehensible spatial or temporal continuity as is found in the Classical Hollywood continuity system. It draws attention to temporal ellipses because changes between shots are obvious, less fluid, and non-seamless.

Intellectual montage might employ jump cuts, often using jump cuts and non-diegetic inserts or frequentative editing.

Eisenstein argued that “Montage is conflict” where new ideas emerge from the collision of images and where the new emerging ideas are not innate in any of the images of the edited sequence. A new concept explodes into being.

Eisenstein argued that the new meaning that emerged out of conflict is the same phenomenon found in the course of historical events of social and revolutionary change. He used intellectual montage in his experimental films (such as “October”) to portray the political situation surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution.

He also believed that intellectual montage expresses how every-day thought processes happen. In this sense, the montage will in fact form thoughts in the minds of the viewer, and is therefore a powerful tool for propaganda.

Eisenstein relates this to non-literary “writing” in pre-literate societies, such as the ancient use of pictures and images in sequence, that are therefore in ‘conflict.’ Because the pictures are relating to each other, their collision creates the meaning of the ‘writing.’ Similarly, he describes this phenomenon as a dialectical materialism.

Intellectual montage follows in the tradition of the ideological Russian Proletcult Theatre which was a tool of political agitation. In his film “Strike,” Eisenstein includes a sequence with cross-cut editing between the slaughter of a bull and slaughter of people. The effect that he wished to produce was not simply to show images of people's lives in the film but more importantly to shock the viewer into understanding the reality of their own lives. Therefore, there is a revolutionary thrust to this kind of film making.

Eisenstein discussed how a perfect example of his theory is found in his film "October," which contains a sequence where the concept of ‘god’ is connected to class structure, and various images that contain overtones of political authority and divinity are edited together in descending order of impressiveness so that the notion of god eventually becomes associated with a block of wood. He believed that this sequence caused the minds of the viewer to automatically reject all political class structures.


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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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