Artistic biography of Sergei Eisenstein

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Sergei was born on 23rd January of the year 1898 in Riga, Latvia and was argued to be of Jewish descent who became one of the 20th century’s renowned filmmakers in the world. The family’s relocation to St. Petersburg allowed him to train as an architect and engineer. The major inspiration of the Eisenstein architect is considered to be the conception of space of the renaissance period. For instance, he spent much time studying the works of Leonardo da Vinci and also inspired by the interpretation made by Freud on the works of Leonardo. He was motivated to fill the gap that was created by distorted space through technology further pushing the outer envelope of filmmaking. Additionally, he was determined in his attempts to infuse the concepts of the renaissance into the machine age to illustrate the possibility of tracing Marxist humanism through history (Bergan 15).

On the other hand, as a soviet artist, the life of Eisenstein was full of temptations and unexpected twists and turns. He also learned to live under Stalin and encountered both the Hollywood machine and the European Boehme. Even though his time was full of seductions, prohibitions conformity, and fear, it is true that he solely focused on necessity and true reality in the works that he produced. He focused on true reality and on the concepts of the eroticism of masses, mass murders, and violence, the longing of a lost totality and the fragmentation of perception as well as the urban space conquered by the eroticism. In his work, Eisenstein developed a cinematographic theory where he produced intellectual films achieving from the direct forms of ideas thereby freed from the traditional limitations that were seen in the productions of his time (Eisenstein 2).

Conversely, Eisenstein is considered as the father of montage and a major theorist in that age of cinema production. In the works produced by Eisenstein, the focus is on the political and social upheaval of the revolution and how such aspects impacted on the theory he pursued and through the focus on montage it is evident that it led to the soviet history revisionism. The presentations in his work that depict the incidences both pre and post cultural revisionism indicate that he made concise choices in the structure of the films. The films and writing of Eisenstein created a historical revisionism through reflecting the ideals of the soviet authority amid the political pressures. The repressive regime of Stalinism never hindered the freedom that Eisenstein wanted to create in his work (Bergan 18).

Analysis of Battleship Potemkin 1925

Battleship Potemkin a film that was released in 1925 revolutionized cinema thereby making Eisenstein a worldwide renowned personality in the film industry. Sergei’s focus on the earlier Russian revolutionaries made the film to be considered as one of the masterpiece works of the international cinema. The film revolves around the Russian sailors and their tyrannical leaders and superiors boarding the battleship Potemkin during the revolution of the year 1905. The destruction of the wind of war through containing the insurgents at the Odessa is argued to later lead to the revolution of the year 1917 and the rise of communism. The extraordinary elegance and pictorial beauty of the battleship Potemkin are arguably unquestionable.Asymmetrical analysis of the film leads to a determination of five acts or movements that aids in the development of the plot and the delivery of the message that Eisenstein is putting forth (Taylor 8).

Firstly, there are the men and the maggots where the sailors suffer mistreatment at the hands of their superiors. The second scenario is the drama on the quarterdeck presenting the mutiny when the ship arrives in Odessa. Thirdly, the citizens at Odessa showed their solidarity through the appeal of the dead as the third movement in the film. The Odessa Steps that illustrates the massacre of citizens is considered the fourth sequence of the scenes that develops the plot of the film.  Lastly, meeting the squadron where the Potemkin is allowed to pass the unharmed is argued to be anticlimactic. The dialectical montage theory of Eisenstein in the film is incarnated by the scene of the Odessa Steps. The illustrations of Eisenstein in this context show his belief that the collision of the opposing shorts gives meaning to the motion pictures generated which then meant that the interaction between force and counterforce leads to the production of greater and new phenomenon (Eisenstein 3).

Additionally, the slaughter that occurs on the stone steps acquires a symbolic meaning when the citizens are trapped in between the Cossacks and the tsarist militia. The scene softly starts with the shots of the people of Odessa waving to the sailors who are ready to leave for the battle. A quick turn of events rings and the massacre begins. It is through this scene that Eisenstein’s use of montage theory and editing style in filmmaking is at its best. The contrast in the scene is seen through the motions depicting the dying people at Odessa and that of the oppressive boots of the soldiers as they move down the steps carrying out the uncalled for act of massacre (Taylor 13).

Equally, it is argued that the scene in itself made the film to be rated as the best propaganda film and created a lasting memory to the person that consumes the film. The creativity through innovative techniques that were employed by Eisenstein in the production of the film led to the creation of a haunting film depicting a political bias. Though the battleship Potemkin became nearly irresistible during early 1926, it is, however, important to note that it was banned by Joseph Stalin, a soviet leader, due to the fears that the film has the potential of inciting riots against his regime (Taylor 20).

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  1. Bergan, Ronald. Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2016.
  2. Eisenstein, Sergei. Towards a Theory of Montage: Sergei Eisenstein Selected Works. Vol. 2.IB Tauris, 2010.
  3. Taylor, Richard. Battleship Potemkin: The Film Companion. Vol. 1.IB Tauris, 2001.
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