Class 24: Montage, Genre


Most of the editing techniques we have discussed in previous classes are associated with the continuity style of editing, best demonstrated by Hollywood films of the 1920s-1960s, a period called the Classical Hollywood Cinema. While Hollywood has been influenced since the 1960s by foreign cinema movements (the French New Wave), television, and improved technology, most of these techniques are still used today.

An early alternative editing style was promoted by Sergei Eisenstein, a Soviet filmmaker from the 1920s. Eisenstein referred to his theories as “montage”. You should not confuse this with the more contemporary meaning of montage which refers to a collection of shots, usually to compress time. Eisenstein’s theory was grounded in the ideological or political thinking of the Russian revolution. He argued that a shot representing an idea (a thesis) could be juxtaposed with another shot (antithesis) to create new meaning (synthesis). Eisenstein employed this theory in terms of film rhythm, tone and ideas. The series of lion shots at the end of the Odessa Steps sequence of his 1925 film Battleship Potemkin is a famous example. The clip below is well known, but attaching “Stairway to Heaven” to it is new.

A recent film director who has used this technique is Francis Ford Coppola. In the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now, he famously uses editing at the end of all three films to create suspense and create symbolism through the juxtaposition of images (baptism/murder, sacrifice/murder of Kurtz).


“Film Genres: Film genres are various forms or identifiable types, categories, classifications or groups of films that are recurring and have similar, familiar or instantly-recognizable patterns, syntax, filmic techniques or conventions – that include one or more of the following: settings (and props), content and subject matter, themes, mood, period, plot, central narrative events, motifs, styles, structures, situations, recurring icons (e.g., six-guns and ten-gallon hats in Westerns), stock characters (or characterizations), and stars. Many films are considered hybrids – they straddle several film genres.” –Tim Dirks.

This content from the University of Minnesota has information about the most popular genres.

For homework: Write a 250 word analysis of a film of your choice, describing what genre(s) the film may belong to and why. Post your analysis with the title “Film Genre Analysis”. I am grading this post out of 10 points based on the quality of your analysis, how you relate genre concepts to the film you discuss, and the clarity of your writing.

This document from Dartmouth College provides some advice on how to write about film. If you are interested in perfecting your film writing analysis, you might want to take a look.

In-Class Activity: Using the images you took/cut-out for homework, compose a storyboard of 7-10 shots. Cut out the shots and glue them to a paper. Underneath or next to each shot, describe the following:

  • camera length (e.g., medium shot or close-up, etc.)
  • camera angle
  •  very brief description of action
  • transition to next shot (editing)

Submit by end of class.



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