Filmmaker and theorist, Lev Kuleshov, is known today as the grandfather of Soviet Montage theory. His works include The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924), Death Ray (1925), The Great Consoler (1933) and We from the Urals (1943). Kuleshov’s life work has had a profound influence on the filmmakers around him and filmmakers today. One of his greatest triumphs was cofounding the Moskow Film School, the world’s first film school. In a time when filmmaking was still in its infancy, Kuleshov was perhaps the first to theorize about the power of this new story telling medium. These theories and experiments would pave the way for future Russian film giants like Pudovkin and Eisenstein (who briefly studied under him).
Kuleshov’s most famous experiment is known today as the Kuleshov Effect. In order to show the power of editing he screened a shot of the expressionless face of Tsarist matinee idol Ivan Mozzhukhin followed by a shot of a bowl of soup. The test audience praised Mozzhukin’s performance for the subtle way he craved the soup. Kuleshov then screened the same shot of Mozzhukin to a new audience, this time followed by a shot of a dead girl in a coffin. The viewers were amazed by the tender sadness in Mozzhukin’s expression. Finally Muzzhukin face was followed by an image of a beautiful woman. Once again, the audience was duped.
Kuleshov felt his experiment proved how the viewer infers a spatial relationship from one shot to the next and projects his or her own response to the image on to the next. This, he claimed, was the key to filmmaking. Vsevolod Pudovkin:
Pudovkin was a Russian/ Soviet filmmaker and actor who also showed insight into the world of film editing. Many learnt from his “Five Editing Techniques” which he laid out in his book, Film Technique and Film Acting, and exemplified in his silent classic, Mother (1926) Pudovkin’s Five Editing Techniques: Puduvkin’s theory was to use these techniques to elicit a reaction from the audience to enhance the story. He called this ‘Relational Editing’.
1. Contrast editing is when one crosscuts between two opposite scenarios to highlight the contrast between them. In Mother he cuts between scenes poverty to those of affluence to make a point of difference. 2. Parallelism is when one cuts between to different scenes but focus on a single element each scene that ties them together. E.g. A scene of a woman putting on stocking to a man robbing a bank with stockings over his face. 3. Symbolism is when we cut between scenes to create a symbolic meaning in the viewers mind. Pudovkin suggested crosscutting a scene of Tsarist police shooting down striking worker to a scene of cows...