Sergei Eisenstein (Sergei Mikhailovich Eizenshtein, b. Riga, Latvia, 1898–d. Moscow, 1948) remains one of the most celebrated filmmakers and theorists in the history of cinema. He achieved this status internationally during his lifetime, and since his death the overall volume of critical and theoretical writing exploring his work, life, and legacy is surpassed only by that on Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. At least one of his films—Battleship Potemkin (1925)—is inevitably included in every list of “the greatest films ever made,” and both his films and his theoretical writings are a regular part of the standard curriculum of film studies. Eisenstein’s canonical status as a filmmaker from the 1920s through the 1980s can largely be accounted for by the fact that his films have been seen as models for radical political filmmaking, combining antirealist avant-garde cinematic technique with a commitment to the transformation of the political consciousness of the spectator. The availability of archival materials and restorations of unfinished films in the 1980s and 1990s, combined with a renewed interest in historiography within the field of film studies, has led to a reconsideration of Eisenstein’s film legacy. The enduring question that has shaped much of the critical and historical writings on his films has been about the relationship between the ideological mandates of the Soviet state, particularly of the late Stalinist period (1930s–1940s), and the evolution of Eisenstein’s cinematic style.
Article. 11151 words.
Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television
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