Reading Eisenstein’s dialectic montage film language and Bazin’s total cinema theory

From reading ‘A Dialectic Approach to Film Form’, I discovered that the whole idea of Sergei Eisenstein’s theory towards arts, more specifically filmmaking, is the presentation and construction of CONFLICT. In his theory of dialectic editing, new concepts are generated through the juxtaposition of opposing individual elements and ideas (Thesis+Antithesis=Synthesis) and he repeatedly emphasized on the importance of dynamism of film, which as he said dialectic is “a constant evolution from the interaction of two contradictory opposites”. To him, dialectical montage is defined as a technique that two independent primary pieces juxtaposing together to create a new means that may generate elaborated emotions on the audience, providing various examples of conflicts achieved through different techniques such as camera angles, optical distortion and slow-motion etc. For example, a shot of a car rushing towards the camera and a shot of falling objects from a bag to the ground edited together is a dialectical montage used to indicate a mean—-a car accident. Another example may be an extreme close-up shot of a scared-looking eye of a young-looking person juxtaposed with a low-angled shot of a group of students approaching forward with evil smile, indicating a possible bullying happening, appealing to the audiences’ scared and angry emotions since they could suspect what will happen only by watching these two independent shots.

However, I personally don’t fully agree with what he claimed about the film and arts are all about conflict construction, but I do understand why he thought in this way. I think it was based on the historical environment he lived in, when the context of that era was to inspire revolution and Eisenstein’s filming was definitely influenced by the social contexts. However, in today’s films I believe, conflict is still important and sometimes the core of the film, but resolution of conflict and harmony are also becoming more and more frequently presented because audiences are also in favor of receiving positive and placid emotions from film such as love, kinship and friendship. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with his argument? 

In Andre Bazin’s article ‘The Myth of Total Cinema’, he discusses his point of view regarding the connection of filming and the real world, which describes the human’s desire to create an illusionary depiction of the material world. He argued through looking at the history of people who weren’t part of the history of cinema invention itself were also interested and obsessed with the presentation of the material world through immersive images and photographs. As Bazin wrote: “In short, cinema has not yet been invented”, he believed that the total cinema is just an ideology that humans have not yet achieved, but just getting closer and closer to the idea. He also argued that the ideas precede the invention of technology and media. Then, to what extent, can we call ourselves reaching, or almost reaching the idea of “total cinema”? Or there’s never a baseline for us to call so? Moreover, what he conveyed included the point that total cinema was to reconstruct a perfect illusion of the material world, a “total and complete representation of reality”. The problem is, through animation and special effects in films mostly direct to the opposite of unreality or distortion of reality. How do we explain this towards the idea of total cinema? Is it going against it or supporting it in some way?

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