Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sergei Eisenstein on filming 'Capital'

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936) - a classic film satirising capitalism.

The outstanding Soviet film maker Sergei Eisenstein, whose life and politics are discussed here, was a towering artistic genius of the twentieth century responsible for classics such as October, Strike! and Battleship Potemkin. In the 1920s, he dreamed of turning Marx’s Capital into a film. When he initially mentioned his plan to an audience and was asked what it would be like, his inspired response was: 'It's a factory secret!'. However, in a lecture in Paris in 1930 he revealed more when set out his new method of film making - 'cinedialectic', the film of the future:

'My new conception of the film is based on the idea that the intellectual and emotional processes which so far have been conceived of as existing independently of each other —art versus science— and forming an antithesis heretofore never united, can be brought together to form a synthesis on the basis of cinedialectic, a process that only the cinema can achieve. A spectator can be made to feel-and-think what he sees on the screen. The scientific formula can be given the emotional quality of a poem. And whether my ideas on this matter are right or wrong, I am at present working in this direction. I will attempt to film Capital so that the humble worker or peasant can understand it.'

Sadly, this was just one of many films Eisenstein dreamt of but was never made, largely due to the rise of the Stalinist bureaucracy in Russia. I don't think Stalin would have particularly been in favour of a film attacking the dark side of capitalist industrialisation somehow, espcially not if it was coming out at the precise moment he was trying to build up 'Socialism in One Country'.

Labels: ,


At 9:02 am, Blogger FraVernero said...

Yes, myself being a really fanatic Eisenstein fan, it was a pity that the project wasn't developed, although some idea of what it might look like may be present in the sequence 'God-Country' that's present in the film 'October'.

Eisentein was a marxist artist, as well as a genius. You may be very fond of other directors too (Pudovkin, Dovchenko, Kozintzev/Trauberg) but E. is the one that captures the tragic mixture and brief blending of the aesthetic and the political revolutions.
Even his last pieces, like the highly theatricalized Ivans, a nice and beautiful reflection on stalinist paranoid world-views, is of great interest.

At 9:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm eagerly awaiting "Marx and Engels:The Movie". Will I have long to wait do you think?
Love your blog by the way.

At 12:25 am, Blogger Doug Nesbitt said...

There is a Karl Marx biopic in the works focusing on his life from 1830-48.


At 2:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's fascinating news, thanks! I will keep an eye on this. At least it not a hollywood production it seems according to the link, so no Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis in sight.
This link :http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hp&cf=prev&id=1808403434&intl=us, discusses an upcoming Che picture.


Post a Comment

<< Home