11 February marks the day that Sergei Eisenstein died in 1948. Eisenstein was a Soviet movie director and film theorist and is recognized world-wide as a pioneer in film making.
At the Petrograd Institute of Civil Engineering, Sergei studied architecture and engineering, the profession of his father. In 1918, Sergei left school and joined the Red Army to support the Bolsheviks. In 1920, Sergei was transferred to a command position in Minsk, after successfully providing propaganda for the October Revolution. At this time, he was exposed to Kabuki theatre and studied Japanese, learning some 300 kanji characters, which he cited as an influence on his pictorial development. These studies would lead him to travel to Japan.
His first full length feature film would be ‘Strike’ made in 1925. This film would display Eisenstein’s ground breaking montage techniques. In his initial films, Eisenstein did not use professional actors. His narratives eschewed individual characters and addressed broad social issues, especially class conflict. Eisenstein was uninterested in casting or creating stars of films. He used stock characters, and the roles were filled with untrained people whom he thought would best represent the classes he sought to portray.
Eisenstein would be awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941 and again in 1946.
One of Eisenstein’s most famous works is ‘Battleship Potemkin’ which was recently restored and re-released. A trailer for the film appears below…