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Film Form: Methods of Montage

Page history last edited by Kathryn Hansen 11 years, 2 months ago


Eisenstein Essay (read it here).


 Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, Methods of Montage. Edited and translated by Jay Leyda.


Sergei Eisenstein was one of the most influencial filmmakers during the period called the Soviet Montage.   This is best described as a method of film editing which was used by other Soviet filmmakers at that time, however Eisenstein's theories and applications are concidered Soviet Montage.


He states as an example, "overtonal montage is a dialectical stage of development within the development of the whole montage system of methods, standing in a successive relation to other forms of montage?” [1].



In Eisenstein’s essay he describes five methods of montage. These different forms of montage build upon each other. So that the higher forms of montage include the simpler forms, or the lower levels of montage. The lower forms of montage are limited as to the complexity of meaning, however as the montage rises in complexity, so will the meaning that is being communicated. They begin as primal emotions and rise to intellectual levels. [2]



Then he goes on to explain his theory of the different formal types of montage.



Metric Montage:


Described as absolute lengths of the pieces. Tension is obtained by the effect of mechanical acceleration by shortening the pieces while preserving the original proportions of the formula. This technique produces a quantitative effect that can be reduced to a mathematical formula.



Rhythmic Montage:


This technique incorporates not only the metric composition but equally within the content of the frame is also considered. In this description Eisenstein states, “Formal tension by acceleration is obtained by shortening the pieces… but also by violating the plan.”  Example: Potemkin The Odessa Steps The rhythmic drum of the soldiers’ feet… violates all metric demands. [1]




Tonal Montage

This montage represents a stage beyond rhythmic montage. He continues, “It is not only movement within the frame, but movement perceived in a wider sense. This montage is based on the emotional sound of the piece.”

In the “fog sequence” during Potemkin, this montage was based exclusively on the emotional sound of the piece. However both tonal and rhythmic dominants are operating.

The chief indicator of assembly of the pieces was according to their basic element, light-vibrations (the varying degrees of haze and luminosity). [1] Moreover this example furnishes a demonstration of consonance in combining movement as change and movement as light-vibration.











Major edit needs to include

-Overtonal Montage

-Intellectuall Montage


Hey guys I am looking for a link to the actuall essay. If Sean or anyone else knows where I could link that please let me know or just do it for me.




Eisenstein, Sergei. Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. Edited by, Jay Leyda. Harvest Books


Comments (1)

Sean Desilets said

at 10:55 am on Oct 8, 2009

* Not sure whether that first quotation is a question. It seems out of place.
* The description of tonal montage seems mostly to be in Eisenstein's own words. Needs some commentary

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