Monday, April 23, 2007

Crazy Communist Director

It took only two weeks to derelict on my promise of a full movie review each Friday. I did finally finish my article on Bella, but must polish my pedantic prose and abundant non-sequiturs before publishing. I received an acerbic e-mail from a Catholic movie critic who took exception to a passing comment on this blog that identified Bella as a pro-life movie; thus, I want it to be as polished as it can be before publishing. In the meantime, I've got some great posts planned.

Last week I posted on The Lives of Others, an awesome German flick about the conflict between East Germany's state security and an artist. It illustrated the tension between art and Communist state. Today I want to post a clip from Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin. Eisenstein was one the foremost Communist film propagandists, and one of the finest directors history's ever produced. Even a talented propagandist like Eisenstein couldn't escape eventual censorship though, which was such a devastating blow to his tremendous ego that he promptly suffered serious health problems (an illness which eventually killed him). Eisenstein innovated a whole new style of editing. His "collision montage" strove for as much pictorial, temporal, and spatial discontinuity as possible, breaking many established tenets of film. Watching Eisentein is a disorienting experience. Each image in an edited sequence differs drastically in lighting, movement, and composition, while he also has no inhibitions against distorting the audiences' perception of time and space.

Eisenstein is the perfect director for anyone who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. He loves to string together radically contrasting images, which collide so rapidly that you feel like you've come down with epilepsy. This scene from Odessa Steps is famous for his distinctive editing style. The scene is really fun to watch, and Eisenstein's editing makes the action take longer than it would in real life. I'll post more on this tomorrow; now I'm off to catch a plane to Minnesota!

Click here for the scene.

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