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Monday, September 08, 2014

Lev Kuleshov

Kuleshov may well be the very first film theorist as he was a leader in Soviet montage theory — developing his theories of editing before those of Eisenstein (briefly a student of Kuleshov) and Pudovkin; for Kuleshov, the essence of the cinema was editing, the juxtaposition of one shot with another; to illustrate this principle, he created what has come to be known as the Kuleshov Effect: shots of an actor were intercut with various meaningful images (a casket, a bowl of soup, and so on) in order to show how editing changes viewers' interpretations of images (wiki).

the Kuleshov Effect is using the Pavlovian physiology to manipulate the impression made by an image and thus to spin the viewer's perception of that image; to demonstrate such manipulation, Kuleshov took a shot of popular Russian actor Ivan Mozzhukhin's expressionless face from a silent film that had to be destroyed by the Soviet officials; he then edited the face together with three different endings: a plate of soup, a seductive woman, a dead child in a coffin; the audiences believed that Ivan Mozzhukhin acted differently looking at the food, the girl, or the coffin, showing an expression of hunger, desire, or grief respectively; actually the face of Ivan Mozzhukhin in all three cases was one and the same shot repeated over and over again; viewers own emotional reactions become involved in manipulation; images spin those who are prone to be spun; although editing and montage have already been used in art, architecture, fashion, politics, book publishing, theatrical productions and religious events (just look at placement of icons in churches, or photos in books, or pictures at exhibitions), the use of such editing in silent films was innovative and eventually led to more advanced visual effects (imdb).

(Filmele Avangardei)

(Russian and Soviet Cinema)



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