Eisenstein. I don’t have a ton of Eisenstein films in the archives but they all have fantastic grades (and 5 in the top 500) and certainly he warrants the distinction of “style-plus” direction. It’s more than that really- it’s a complete dedication to an aesthetic. Eisenstein is the master of the montage style- film art made in the editing room- and the Odessa Steps scene in Potemkin in particular is an all-time genuine stylistic landmark. Griffith may be the father of parallel editing and others are fantastic editors (from Leone, to Truffaut, to Stone, Nolan, Malick and Francis Coppola) but Eisenstein is still face you see when you think of editing. Having said that, there are beautiful images here that deserve praise – if all Eisenstein accomplished was editing- there would be little to share from a still-frame art shot perspective
Best film: Battleship Potemkin. Editing is such an important part of the cinematic language and Eisenstein is justified in being its single person identifier. Potemkin is his greatest example of this technique.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 1 (Battleship Potemkin)
top 500 films: 5 (Battleship Potemkin, Strike, Ivan the Terrible Part II, Ivan the Terrible Part I, October,)
top 100 films of the decade: 5 (Battleship Potemkin, Strike, Ivan the Terrible Part II, Ivan the Terrible Part I, October, Alexander Nevsky)
most overrated: The Ivan the Terrible films- the TSPDT consensus has it in the 200’s and I’m 100 slots or more behind into the 300s’s but it’s been ages since I’ve seen it- warrants a revisit.
most underrated: Strike. The TSPDT consensus has it at #652 and I have it at #255. It’s a precursor to Potemkin (this came out in April 1925 and Potemkin in December 1925) and while Potemkin is superior—it’s not by the margin the TSPDT consensus would lead you to believe.
gem I want to spotlight: Alexander Nevsky- the “battle on the ice” is a very famous scene. It was copied (homage) by Branagh in Henry V. It’s simply masterful montage on display combined with gorgeous imagery.
stylistic innovations/traits: Nobody in cinema is as synonymous with editing as Eisenstein. I actually think I disagree with Sarris who says its Murnau’s moving camera that has proved to be the greater innovation. To me that’s taste—the techniques themselves are equal. I just think Sunrise is better than Potemkin though that margin has closed since my recent viewing of Potemkin in 2016. It’s nearly been 100 years but the idea of rapidly breaking apart a scene/shot, creating a rhythm in the pace, juxtaposing images— it’s revolutionary—avant-garde.
- Battleship Potemkin
- Ivan the Terrible Part II
- Ivan the Terrible Part I
- Alexander Nevsky
By year and grades
|1925- Battleship Potemkin||MP|
|1938- Alexander Nevsky||HR/MS|
|1944- Ivan the Terrible Part I||MS|
|1946- Ivan the Terrible Part II||MS|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives