Eisenstein Rediscovered

By Ian Christie; Richard Taylor | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Eisenstein as theoretician Preliminary considerations

Edoardo G. Grossi

In Eisenstein we find a constant urge to operate in the interstices of different sciences, between linguistics and anthropology, between psychology and aesthetics, between the history of art and biology. This impulse might suggest a mistrust of the procedures of analysis but, on the contrary, it takes advantage of the relative weakness of the various paradigms to make the research more effective-and to obtain better results…

The roles of scientist and scholar, wise man and pragmatist, are superimposed and merged: each appears just when the others seem to be asserting themselves. 1

These very interesting reflections by Francesco Casetti help explain how, by taking stock of Eisenstein as a theoretician of cinema and also as a theoretician of art, we can discern his complexity as well as the importance of his multifaceted æuvre. 2

There are innumerable starting points from which to reconstruct the Eisensteinian mosaic. Chronologically, the first is the six volumes of the Selected Works, published in Moscow between 1964 and 1971 and running to more than three thousand pages. These obviously contain writings of uneven quality, drawn from the different periods of Eisenstein's career. Alongside articles written for particular occasions, this edition includes such pillars of his thought as Direction, Non-Indifferent Nature, Colour, On Stereoscopic Cinema, Memoirs, as well as his reflections on montage dating from 1937-41, collected into the articles 'Montage 1937', 'Montage 1938' and 'Vertical Montage I, II, III'.

In the first part of an earlier article, I attempted a preliminary synthesis of the main translations of Eisenstein's writings, drawn from the Selected Works as published in France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States. 3 Apart from the writings that comprise Direction, this synthesis demonstrated that the great interest which Eisenstein aroused as a theoretician has only rarely been accompanied by deeper analysis or critical interpretation. Against this rich international panorama, the Italian reader

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