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November 11, 2004

Today is the kind of day where classic Danny Elfman scores are required listening.

What are some of your favorite examples of montage, as defined by the Russians in general and Eisenstein in particular (i.e. montage in which, to paraphrase The Complete Film Dictionary, shots are arranged in such a way that their juxtaposition creates meanings realized by the audience)? At this particular moment, mine are:

1. The shot of the nursing baby looking up from it's mother's breast while, in another shot, Joan is burned at the stake in Dreyer's The Passion Of Joan Of Arc.

2. The entire fifteen minutes of Un Chien Andelou, in which, if Bunuel and Dali are to be believed, the meaning of the film is not only realized by the audience, but realized solely by them, with no subconscious input from the filmmakers (although by selecting the images to be included in the film, I would think the filmmakers inherently participated in the same process that occurs in the audience as the film is viewed).

Different theories of editing have been on my mind over the past few days as I've been sorting out my thoughts in a series of e-mails (and more on those later, perhaps). Eisenstein was the first theorist I ever was aware of, in terms of juxtapoiton; interestingly, I learned about him not through film but when I was studying (seriously) comic books back in junior high (while on the subject, let me strongly recommend Scott McCloud's groundbreaking Understanding Comics to anyone interested in any sort of visual art medium). I'm not sure who the defining auteur would be in the opposing theories -- Renoir? DeSica? I need to do some research -- but I've found myself drifting further away from the Soviet methods as I've grown fonder of lengthy takes and invisible cuts; and yet, the emotion that can be brought about through sharply contrasting two disparate elements remains enormously attractive to me.

I went to see Tarnation with my mom last night. She found it directly comparable to her other favorite film this year, The Passion Of The Christ. Now I'm about to head out again to see Undertow, which has some subtle biblical overtones to it as well, in the mythic sense. It also has a very Elfman-esque score by Phillip Glass. Man, I just can't resist finding parallels between everything I write about here. Sort of like the zippo speech in The Dreamers.

Also, read James's latest bit of writing; I think it's pretty moving.

Posted by David Lowery at November 11, 2004 5:04 PM