The Technique of Montage Used in Cinema
Montage is a single pictorial structure produced by contrasting or projecting many images or designs. In film production, montage is an editing method in which shots compare in a sometimes quick fashion that condenses time and expresses a great deal of information in a short time.
The word has been employed in different contexts. The term "montage," introduced to cinemas in French, indicates editing. In the theory of Soviet montage, as initially coined by Sergei Eisenstein outside the USSR, it was used to establish symbolism. Afterward, the word "montage sequence" utilized mainly by American and British studios formed the standard strategy for indicating time passage. From 1930-1950, montage sequences also merged multiple brief shots with unique optical effects (double, fades, dissolves, triple exposures, and split screens) music and dance.
The Rocky movie showed a training montage of Sylvester Stallone.
A Bollywood Cinema displays a montage sequence when a boy jumps off a building and suddenly is ten years older.
Montage was revolutionary at the time in the 1920s. The prescience of Eisenstein hits us from the viewpoint of the present when we are on the verge of a transition from analogous perception modes and depiction to the digital technology's dispersed sensibility. The new tv screen typifies this change as a site where collage and montage conflate at once. The audience is supposed to do multiple tasks with various items and acts concurrently–the talking heads, visuals that intervene, text scrolls, flash news, pop-up commercials, etc. A non-linear clutter understanding is replacing unilinear media experience and attentiveness. The typical star-strapped mainstream cinema, with its excellent instinct, yet very superficially utilizes the digital potentials. But with digital sound already in cinemas, the soundtrack is an expression of the multitude. An intriguing thought is what montage could do to dissect the traditional rectangular screen to which we are transfixed and equally dispersing our viewing experience.
Sergi Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ is a video I chose to help illustrate the importance of the montage technique in cinemas effectively. I will use the perspectives of an ordinary viewer and military and cultural historian to explore the effect of montage on our interpretation of the referenced film.
How Juxtapositions of Image and Sound Convey Meaning
Eisenstein (1898-1948), a graduate of the Russian State Film Institute, was known as a promoter of Soviet film montage theories. Eisenstein's montage theory is also theoretical in some respects, such as that of Griffith, but his theory is more radical in terms of political circumstances and aesthetics, and his theory primarily targets the psychology of the audience.
He claims that the most significant impact of a video is not the seamless unrolling of pictures, but its juxtaposition–'montage is a concept that emerges from the clash of independent shots–shots that perhaps contradict each other'.
His fundamental idea is the clash of elements, that is, shots shouldn't be seen as interconnected, but instead as contradictory with one another. Eisenstein regards montage as an aspect of the imaginative film that is essential in the development of:
● Dramatic Form – Metric Montage
● Rhythm in the Narrative – Rhythmic Montage
● Metaphor and Analogy- Overtonal Montage
● Dynamic in building up the film’s meaning – Intellectual Montage
The final point is by far the most significant, irrespective of whether they are political or anti-ideological devices, movies are produced to enable the viewer to generate new ideas, feelings, and cognitions inside the mind and imagine the unseen tension between the elements of the movie.
Battleship Potemkin is grade-conscious nationalist propaganda, commissioned by the Russian revolutionary government for the Potemkin uprising's twentieth anniversary in 1905. The explanation was because Lenin thought this film might inspire his people to support the proletariat and overthrow the old order.
With dialectical montage, Eisenstein indicates we should use point, fusion, and counterpoint to obtain conflicts in movies. Examples of dialectical montage at Battleship Potemkin are as follows:
● Splitting between the surgeon of the Battleship and the maggot-infested meat that the sailors are supposed to eat to indicate an absurdity and contradiction of the order
● Splitting between hanging ghostly figures and locked fists, combined with an inter-title 'Down with the tyrants!' To legitimize the rage of people
● Splitting between the intimidating faces of them unarmed civilians and the faceless military in uniform to give the people a justification against the brutal czarist regime
● The multiple cuts in the sequence of steps in Odessa build individual scenes of horror into an intense emotional climax. It is a perfect example to illustrate the montage theory of Eisenstein in connection with the formation of intellectual ideas and associations.
First, he utilizes photos of still objects that align with images of the massacre and establish a symbolic juxtaposition: he suggests the emergence of rage and resistance through the complex edition of 3 lion statues. The juxtaposition of the two separate image objects (one human the other symbolic image or prop) is indeed a powerful marketing tool as it allows audiences to conclude for themselves that the symbol represents the character.
Next, he portrays the invading militia in a fragmentary manner through a line of marching boots charging down the stairs, and this was to underline the oppressive and impersonal essence of the militia. He went on to contrast it with the helplessness of the revolutionary citizen-victims by demonstrating a paraplegic man who flees from the cold bullets with difficulty. And a military boot squashes a child's hand as the troops marched ahead. There's also an older woman who is shown in her first appearance with eyeglasses, then in her second shot, one of the glasses was shattered by a bullet, and that indicates her death.
Finally, there are shots from a mother carrying a baby. As the mother is shot and begins to fall, cuts were made to her carriage nestled dangerously close to the edge of a step. The shots of the escaping crowd and the advancing militia line occasionally shooting onto the crowd are juxtaposed with those individual scenes of brutality. The dread that this montage generates is enhanced as the mother falls and sends the carriage down the stairs hurtling out of control.
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