Eisenstein, Sergei Mikhailovich

Eisenstein, Sergei Mikhailovich syĭrgāˈ mēkhīˈləvĭch īˈzənshtīn [key], 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).

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