2 Important types of editing: Continuity and Montage

Please note: Soviet montage and modern montage are not the same!  For Soviet Montage, this found footage demonstrates the five methods of montage (metric, rhythmic, tonal, overtonal, and intellectual).  Basically, a new idea emerges from a sequence of shots which cannot be found in any of the individual shots shown on their own…

Eisenstein argued that ‘montage is conflict’ where new ideas emerge from the collision of images and where the new emerging ideas are not innate in any of the images of the edited sequence. A new concept explodes into being.

Soviet Montage is not concerned with the depiction of a comprehensible spatial or temporal continuity as is found in the Classical Hollywood continuity system. It draws attention to temporal ellipses because changes between shots are obvious, less fluid, and non-seamless.

Have a look at this example. There are lots of interesting student projects on YouTube, their assignment was as follows: “Apply Eisensteins theory of montage, or other soviet theories, to a series of shots by shooting and editing together shots that conform with his theory to create a visually interesting montage about a subject of your choice. This will be a thematic concept specific to your life and something that you do and will pertain to the concepts in the reading.” Watching some of these should give you a feel for what makes Soviet Montage unique.

If still in doubt, watch this slaughter scene from Eisenstein’s Strike (1925) – a good example of intellectual montage (i.e. shots create intellectual meaning, you can read this wiki, or here – nice resource this if you ignore the tacky ads). In Strike, Eisenstein includes a sequence with cross-cut editing between the slaughter of a bull and slaughter of people. The affect that he wished to produce was not simply to show images of people’s lives in the film but more importantly to shock the viewer into understanding the reality of their own lives.

Continuity editing is the predominant style of film editing practiced by most Hollywood editors. The goal of continuity editing is to make the work of the editor as invisible as possible – the audience should not notice the cuts, and shots should flow together naturally. Important rules in continuity editing are: the 180 degree rule (axis of action)shot reverse shot, eyeline matches, use of the establishing shot, and others. We will look at these in greater detail in later blog posts.


About nicolapallitt

I am currently doing my PhD in Media Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I use WordPress for research and teaching purposes.
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