The Cinema of Eisenstein

The Cinema of Eisenstein

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The Cinema of Eisenstein is David Bordwell's comprehensive analysis of the films of Sergei Eisenstein, arguably the key figure in the entire history of film. The director of such classics as Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible, October, Strike, and Alexander Nevsky, Eisenstein theorized montage, presented Soviet realism to the world, and mastered the concept of film epic. Comprehensive, authoritative, and illustrated throughout, this classic work deserves to be on the shelf of every serious student of cinema.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 344 pages
  • 178 x 250 x 18mm | 621.43g
  • Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 326 black & white illustrations, 326 black & white halftones
  • 0415973651
  • 9780415973656
  • 798,642

Review quote

"David Bordwell continues his distinguished career with "The Cinema of Eisenstein," which should revive the flagging fortunes of this path-breaking director with a new generation of film buffs. Bordwell has a firm grasp of the Russian master's theories of film technique, and of course Eisenstein and semantics are almost synonymous. Bordwell's style is articulate and never patronizing, and his frame enlargements are crystal-sharp compared with those in most books."--"International Film Guide""The last two decades have witnessed a glorious renaissance of the Russian filmmaker who must rank among the greatest ever to have taken up cinema's cause...Bordwell has provided much more than the 'straightforward introduction to [Eisenstein's] accomplishments' he too modestly states as his book's purpose. He sketches Eisenstein's life in the artistic and political context in which he worked. He patiently traces the complex roots of Eisenstein's film theory and pedagogy in often arcane currents of Russian and European intellectual history. Finally, Bordwell offers compelling close readings of all the major films in a way that substantially enhances our understanding of the master's methods and accomplishments. Effectively illustrated and containing a superb bibliography, this lucid and persuasive account is a model of economy and insight from which future research will proceed. Everyone from the serious general reader to the old Eisenstein hand can read it profitably."--"Choice""Bordwell gives us the best technical survey of Eisenstein's many cinemagraphic innovations that are readily available in a single volume...[He] puts [Eisenstein's] considerable achievement in historical perspective andprovides detailed analysis of his innovations."--"Reader's Review"""The Cinema of Eisenstein" is a magnificent achievement, an academic yet highly readable discussion of all the director's films and with a lengthy examination of Eisenstein's theoretical writings. The book briefly examines Eisenstein's life and in more detail discusses his place in Soviet cinema."--"Classic Images""David Bordwell has succeeded in drawing a picture of Eisenstein's evolution and of his major achievements...[The book] explores its protagonist's biography and the social and cultural context of his work, and extensively analyzes his films...[It is] a very competent and very balanced work which will be uses for a long time in universities as a standard work on Eisenstein."--Mikhail Yampolsky, "Slavic Review"""The Cinema of Eisenstein" is a treasure in disguise. Its cover is painfully plain, contrary to the flamboyance of the great director [and] its title is awkward in English...It was only on re-reading "The Cinema of Eisenstein" that I recognized the enormity of David Bordwell's achievement. Making the complex accessible, an 'introduction' scholarly, theoretical explanations jargon-free is no mean feat, and yet Bordwell has done all these things superbly. He sketches Eisenstein's life efficiently, explicates the film theories and places them in cultural context, discusses Eisenstein's posthumous waxing and waning and waxing, and most importantly, offers such highly intelligent readings of the films that one wants to see them again even if one has watched them (as I have) many times. These analyses also serve as model illustrations to what Vlada Petric calls 'the filmic way of seeing' and bear norelation to the dry narrative descriptions that we too often find in film histories. Furthermore, Bordwell, a film scholar who is not a Slavicist (and indeed, who does not know Russian), has written a history which satisfied this historian in almost every way...In sum, Bordwell's book is the rare scholarly work that can be recommended--with enthusiasm--to students, scholars, and cineastes alike."--David J. Youngblood, "Slavic and East European Journal"
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About David Bordwell

David Bordwell is Jacques Ledoux Professor Emeritus of Film Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has written several books on film theory, history, and criticism, including On the History of Film Style (Harvard, 1997) and The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (with Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson, Routledge/Columbia, 1985).
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Back cover copy

Eisenstein led a busy, dramatic life. His achievements and adventures merit far more detailed investigation than can be undertaken here. What is useful for the purposes of this book is an overall orientation to his career, a framework within which we can situate his films and theoretical writings.
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Table of contents

Preface 2005
1. A Life in Cinema
From Theatre to Cinema
The Silent Films
Europe, Hollywood, and Mexico
Projects and Problems
Triumph and Decline
The Particularities of Method

2. Monumental Heroics: The Silent Films
Toward Plotless Cinema
Old and New
A Note on Versions of Eisenstein's Silent Films

3. Seizing the Spectator: Film Theory in the Silent Era
Between Theory and Practice
Agitation as Excitation
Montage in Theatre and Film
Film Language and Intellectual Cinema
Film Form as Dialectics
The Eclectic Modernist

4. Practical Aesthetics: Pedagogy
Structure and Style: The Episode
Structure and Style: From Episode to Work
Assaulting the Eye

5. Cinema as Synthesis: Film Theory, 1930-1948
From Agitprop Formalism to Socialist Realism
Conceptions of Psychological Activity
Film Form: Organic Unity
Montage: The Musical Analogy Revisited
Pathos and Ecstasy
A Mature Poetics

6. History and Tragedy: The Late Films
Alexander Nevsky
Ivan the Terrible

7. The Making and Remaking of Sergei Eisenstein
Legend in Life
The Assimilation into Orthodoxy
The Exemplary Modernist
Eisenstein Our Contemporary

Further Reading
Photo Credits
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Rating details

18 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 39% (7)
4 39% (7)
3 17% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 6% (1)
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