Sergei Eisenstein

Eisenstein, Sergei Mikhailovich

Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (syĬrgā´ mēkhī´ləvĬch ī´zənshtīn), 1898–1948, Russian film director. An architect and engineer, he became interested in a theatrical career and worked as a scene designer and stage director (1920). He began his film career in 1924 with Strike, followed by Potemkin (1925), which brought him world fame. Eisenstein developed a system of editing techniques, called montage, through which he made complex statements visually rather than through dialogue. His most famous sequences, the massacre on the Odessa steps in Potemkin and the rising of the drawbridge in October (1927), were composed of hundreds of shots edited according to his precise instructions. His only American project, Que Viva Mexico!, filmed in Mexico in 1930, was taken from his control and later edited by others. His Alexander Nevsky (1938) was an international success, but his projected trilogy Ivan the Terrible (1942–46) met with government disfavor. Part I was released in 1946, but Part II was withheld by the Soviet Film Trust until 1958. Eisenstein died before he could start Part III. He wrote The Film Sense (tr. 1942, rev. ed. 1947), The Film Form (tr. 1949), and Notes of a Film Director (tr. 1959).

See biographies by Y. Barna (1974) and R. Bergan (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Sergei Eisenstein: Selected full-text books and articles

Eisenstein Rediscovered
Ian Christie; Richard Taylor.
Routledge, 1993
Ivan the Terrible, a Screenplay
Ivor Montagu; Herbert Marshall; Ivor Montagu; Sergei Eisenstein.
Simon & Schuster, 1962
Closely Watched Films: An Introduction to the Art of Narrative Film Technique
Marilyn Fabe.
University of California Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Art of Montage: Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin"
The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture
Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal.
Cornell University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twelve "Sergei Eisenstein's Gnostic Circle"
Classical Myth & Culture in the Cinema
Martin M. Winkler.
Oxford University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "Ancient Poetics and Eisenstein's Films"
Film Feminisms: Theory and Practice
Mary C. Gentile.
Greenwood Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Reading Eisenstein"
Theories of Film
Andrew Tudor.
Viking Press, 1974
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Eisenstein: Great Beginnings"
The Major Film Theories: An Introduction
J. Dudley Andrew.
Oxford University Press, 1976
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Sergei Eisenstein"
Camera Obscura, Camera Lucida: Essays in Honor of Annette Michelson
Richard Allen; Malcolm Turvey.
Amsterdam University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Eisenstein's Philosophy of Film" begins on p. 127
A History of Narrative Film
David A. Cook.
W.W. Norton, 1996 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Sergei Eisenstein begins on p. 140
An American Tragedy: The Shotgun Wedding of Moscow and Hollywood: Thomas Doherty Examines a Series of Conflicts between Left-Wing Artists and Movie Moguls at the Time of Sergei Eisentein's Brief Sojourn in Tinseltown in the 1930s
Doherty, Thomas.
History Today, Vol. 52, No. 5, May 2002
The Oxford History of World Cinema
Geoffrey Nowell-Smith.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948)" begins on p. 168
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