The Ideas Of Two Major Film Theorists- Sergei Eisenstein And Andre Bazin Essay Samples
The names Sergei Eisenstein and Andre Bazin invoke great awe and inspiration. These two major film theorists have motivated us across time, and helped us evolve in the study and understanding of film-making. Eisenstein began his career in Moscow, and worked for theatres. He designed and wrote scripts, too. His stint at the Moscow Proletkult Theatre helped broaden his ideas, and made him think of making films. Eisenstein was particularly motivated by the idea of “bio-mechanics”, also called conditioned spontaneity. This theory was propounded by Vsevolod Meyerhold, the director at Proletkut. Eisenstein expanded the theory to come up with his idea of montage. The concept of montage helped in creating an overall effect of symbolizing a point more effectively than that of the sum of the movie scenes. Eisenstein believed in making films for the masses, but ended up making intellectual montage, that was difficult to comprehend for most of the audience. His famous films include October: Ten Days that shook the World, Ivan the Terrible, and Alexander Nevsky.
Andre Bazin was a post-World War II film critic and theorist. He edited Cahiers du cinema, a French Film magazine, and after his death a four-volume collection of his pieces of writing were published by Canadian printing house Caboose. Bazin was a great supporter of the use of deep focus, wide shots and propounded the theory of mise-en-scene. Bazin also swore by the principle of personalism, and wanted the director to leave his own mark on the films. He wanted the audience to make an interpretation of the film by his own mind, and also believed in editing the film likewise.
The idea of montage was brought forward by Sergei Eisenstein. It is a particular style of filmmaking, where a series of shots and scenes are edited together to make the audience get a feeling of the passage of space and time. The word montage is French in origin, and means “cutting.” Two good examples of montage are multiple shots of newspapers getting printed. The shots include papers between rollers, papers coming out in the press, and then the zooming in on the paper headlines. Eisenstein particularly used it in October:Ten Days that shook the world, and there are several cross cutting of scenes and footage to give a stronger impact of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The mis-en-scene concept uses the design aspects of a theatre or film production, and tells a story in an enthralling visual way. Mis-en-scene uses the concept of storytelling, cinematography, and poetic ways. Andre Bazin was a great supporter of this idea. Basically this is an arrangement of everything that appears before the camera- how the sets are arranged, how the props are placed, how the actors deck up, the costumes, the lighting, etc. This is an important factor for any film, because it gives a direction to the vision of the director, and what he is trying to portray via his film. The whole feel and representation makes the movie believable, and mis-en-scene adds to this believability. The word is French in origin, and means “placing on the stage.”
In later years, the art of filmmaking saw a turn. Montage gradually transformed into Fast Cuts, and mis-en-scene resulted in the concept of Long takes. Fast cutting is a concept wherein several shots follow each other consecutively, within a time gap of 3 seconds or even lesser, to convey the information quickly. For example, when two or more characters speak, the camera switches between the speakers and focuses on that person. The camera then quickly switches to the others present in the scene, and shows the audience their reactions, and other non-verbal cues.
Long takes are also fascinating by themselves. Opposite in nature to fast cuts, these shots last for a considerably longer period of time than the standard shots. The cameras, in this case, are designed to take
long angles of shots, and one continuous take. The whole scene can be covered in a single take, and rarely is editing needed. The whole take captures every character and every prop required in the scene, and is one shot in nature.
Examples of fast cuts are seen in Psycho(1960). In the Alfred Hitchcock film, there is the famous shower scene where the killer attacks a girl while she is bathing, and the scene cuts forth between the shower and the killer’s knife. The scene is very unnerving, and the frequent change of shots gives it an eerily brutal feeling.
A second scene where fast cuts are used in plenty is in the film Moulin Rouge(2001). The Can Can dancers at the Moulin Rouge club whirl away so fast that it often feels too much for the audience to get on at a go. The scene is colorful and in 10 minutes introduces the audience to the whole aura of the club. It helps in substantiating the believability of the atmosphere of Moulin Rouge.
Long takes are eloquently seen in Satantago(1994), a Hungarian film. The film is 7 hours in long, and mostly consists of long shots. There is a particular scene wherein the collective farm in the film is shown explicitly, in detail. The shot goes into each and every facet of the farm, and it portrays the haunting loneliness of Hungary and its people. Long takes are apt in this film.(Top 15 Amazing Long Takes,2007)
A second scene, which displays the effectiveness of long takes, is one in Russian Ark (2002). The entire film, around 96 minutes long, was shot in a single shot. The whole film, from start to end, shows the entire story of a Russian palace. The entire film is shot in a Steadicam. It is significant because the whole story comes alive across an arena of shots, and adds to the old world loveliness of the Russian royalty.
The four scenes are important because the use of short cuts and long takes add to the splendor and genius of the film. Psycho and Moulin Rouge use fast cuts, so as to show the fast paced tracks, and shock the
audience. Satantago and Russian Ark use long takes, to hit the audience slowly, and give them the entire effect of the old world charm.
“Top 15 Amazing Long Takes.” Listverse.com.n.p.,October 5, 2007.Web.4th January,2014