Social Scientist. v 7, no. 78 (Jan 1979) p. 54.


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MOTE

Eisenstein and the Potemkin Revolution

BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN is a synthesis of the revolutionary state of Soviet Russia and the inexhaustible enthusiasm and discipline of Sergei Mikailovich Eisenstein. This silent film made in 1925 with hardly any "resources, in terms of film equipment, was to formulate the fundamentals of cinema for all times to come. Cinema, till then, was always thought of as an extension of literature or poetry—a story telling device. But the very different nature of time-space relationships in cinema forced some film-makers to explore the potentialities of this medium. David Wark Griffith was one of them. He explored the relationships of volumes and masses included in the frame which create the required tension. The close-up shot was one of his formal innovations. Griffith also explored the possibility^of simultaneous or parallel narrative constructions. He would therefore intercut between two different events to create tension. The famous episode of the lawyer speeding in his vehicle^ towards the prison, with documents that will free his innocent friend who is being taken to the gallows to be hanged, is from his film Intolerance. Only cinema could perfectly reach the idea of parallelism. Another contributor to this medium, whom Eisenstein honoured a lot, was Charles Chaplin, who had mastered the element of rhythm in film construction.

The spatial rhythm of this dynamism is expression. The

phases of its tension:rhythm. (Eisenstein) The dynamism in the interaction of the logic of organic form (Nature) and the logic of the rational form (Industry) yields in collision the dialectic of the art form.

So what is this collision? We know that the phenomenon of movement in film records the fact that two motionless images of a moving body, following one another, blend into an appearance of motion by showing them frequently at a required speed. But the idea of movement arises from the process of superimposing



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