Sergei Eisenstein, “a Soviet artist and avantgarde director of several groundbreaking films” – widely regarded as the “father of montage” – is the subject of a January 22, 2018 Google Doodle honoring what would have been his 120th birthday.
Eisenstein, who was born in 1898, is best known for films including Battleship Potemkin, Strike, and The General Line, according to Google, which noted that it was honoring his birthday “with a tribute to his pioneering technique” through an animated Google Doodle drawing.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Eisenstein Pioneered a New Film Editing Technique to ‘Transcend Time’
Sergei Eisensein is best known as the “father of montage” for the film editing technique that he’s best known for helping create.
Russian Archives describes this technique as “a new editing form, the ‘montage of attractions’ — in which arbitrarily chosen images, independent from the action, would be presented not in chronological sequence but in whatever way would create the maximum psychological impact.”
According to Google, montage is “the film technique of editing a fast-paced sequence of short shots to transcend time or suggest thematic juxtapositions — Eisenstein deployed arresting images in sequences of psychological precision.”
2. Einstein’s Movies Focused on the Struggle of Workers
Eisenstein isn’t just remembered for his film editing techniques. According to Google, the central motif of his films was also important at the time.
“His films were also revolutionary in another sense, as he often depicted the struggle of downtrodden workers against the ruling class,” wrote Google. Joseph Stalin enjoyed Eisenstein’s films. “These works, heavily focused on the struggle of the workers, led to Joseph Stalin describing him as a “true Bolshevik” after viewing his 1938 epic drama ‘Alexander Nevsky,'” reported Inverse.
3. Eisenstein Was the Son of an Architect & Worked as an Engineer in the Red Army
Although Eisenstein’s early life showed an interest in construction, film seemed far from the horizons at first. According to IMDB, he was “the son of an affluent architect, Eisenstein attended the Institute of Civil Engineering in Petrograd as a young man.”
The Russian Revolution of 1917 changed the course of his life. “With the fall of the tsar in 1917, he worked as an engineer for the Red Army,” reports IMDB. “In the following years, Eisenstein joined up with the Moscow Proletkult Theater as a set designer and then director. The Proletkult’s director, Vsevolod Meyerhold, became a big influence on Eisenstein, introducing him to the concept of biomechanics, or conditioned spontaneity.”
Eisenstein was Jewish in heritage and born in Latvia. Born in “Riga, Latvia, Sergei Mikhaylovich Eisenstein was to become one of the most world-renowned filmmakers of the first half of the 20th century,” reports Russian Archives.com. “Eisenstein was of Jewish descent through his paternal grandparents. His father worked in shipbuilding, until 1910, when the family moved to St. Petersburg, where his training as an architect and engineer had a great influence on his future filmmaking.”
4. Eisenstein’s First Film Was the Revolutionary ‘Strike’
According to Russian Archives, Sergei Eisenstein made his first film in 1924, right after the Russian Revolution. “Eisenstein’s first film, the revolutionary ‘Strike,’ was produced in 1924, following the publishing of his first article on theories of editing in the review Lef, edited by the great poet, Mayakovsky,” reports Russian Archives.
Other films commemorated the Revolution. “On 1925, in order to commemorate the Revolution of 1905, the Communist Party commissioned the renowned film ‘Potemkin’ (also called ” battleship Potemkin”). The film was made in the Black Sea port of Odessa,” reports Russian Archives. “In 1958 it was voted the best film ever made, by an international poll of critics.”
Other films included “October” or “Ten Days That Shook the World”, “dealing with the shifts of power between the 1917 February and October revolutions, Lenin’s entering the scene and the struggle of the Bolsheviks with their opponents,” reported the archival site.
5. The Google Doodle Honors Eisenstein With Film Clips
The Google Doodle honors Eisenstein’s genius in film. Noted Time Magazine, “Eisenstein’s work famously features intricate arrangements of short shots, juxtaposed to shed light on the psychological composition of an event. Below is one of his most renowned montages: the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin.”
What’s amazing is how influential Einsenstein was despite making relatively few films. “In his life, Eisenstein only produced seven films, but these works demonstrated the techniques that he helped create,” reported Inverse, continuing , “The 1925 film ‘Strike’ features a famous scene where strike suppression is mixed with cattle slaughtering. In the film ‘October,’ a 1927 film about the October Revolution, a machine gun firing is mixed with scenes of people fleeing a scene as part of an evocative montage.”