When it comes to Russian filmmakers, the first names that come to nearly everyone's mind are Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein. Both were exceptional, and Eisenstein is seen as the father of modern montage theory. However, a lesser-known filmmaker, Vsevolod Pudovkin, proves just how integral Russian film was to cinema at the beginning of the 20th century by providing his own montage theory, slightly different from that of Eisenstein, that formed the foundation of the classic Hollywood style of editing, which is used in almost every film today. Continue on to check out an informative video that explains Pudovkin's essential editing techniques.
Though Pudovkin's name may not ring a bell for some, his teacher's might. Pudovkin was the student of Lev Kuleshov, who, for one, was arguably the very first film theorist ever, and two, was the one who demonstrated that editing meant more than splicing bits of film together to form a coherent story; it was powerful and could evoke emotions based on their order and juxtaposition. This reaction to editing is called the Kuleshov Effect. Kuleshov's original editing experiment is below:
It is argued that Pudovkin was the experiment's co-creator. It wouldn't be surprising to learn for sure that he was, since his theories on editing helped establish modern editing, as well as create a film language for editing that we still use to this day.
At its core, the early Russian film theorists, like Pudovkin, believed that editing, the organization and placement of shots, was a means of expression that was unique to filmmaking -- something that wasn't (and still isn't) done in literature, theater, paintings, or the plastic arts. "The foundation of film art is editing."
Pudovkin's 5 editing techniques are contrast, parallelism, symbolism, simultaneity, and leitmotif. Each of these techniques is in every editor's arsenal and used in virtually every film made around the world. Becoming familiar with each of them is essential if you want to speak to your audience in a subtle way, rather than through extensive (and obnoxious) verbal on-screen exposition.
The video below by filmmaker Evan Richards explains each in detail, as well as offering examples from contemporary films.
A big thanks to Evan Richards for sharing his video with us. Also, who doesn't like free film theory books from those who wrote the book on film? Richards also gave a link to Pudovkin's book Film Technique and Film Acting -- a collection of his writings on cinema that was published in 1954. You can download the PDF for free here.
What do you think of Pudovkin's and Kuleshov's theory that editing is the foundation of film? Share your thoughts in the comments.
[via Evan Richards]