EISENSTEIN AT WORK by Jay & Zina Voynow Leyda


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An annotated scrapbook of sketches, photos, essays, diaries, and letters from the career of Soviet filmmaker/theoretician Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948). From the early years, the materials are dismayingly sketchy: virtually nothing on Batleship Potemkin; newly-discovered 1924 essays on montage technique (better explained in other Eisenstein writings); a few theater designs. But, with the 1930s, there are increasingly rich selections from the Eisenstein archives: rough notes and shot-by-shot outlines for such never-realized projects as An American Tragedy (with amusing Eisenstein-in-Hollywood culture clashes); testimony from assorted colleagues (not always clearly identified in the book's confusing typography) on the making of Bezhin Meadow; sketches for frames of Alexander Nevsky; an elaborate outline for the Pushkin film The Love of a Poet. And the book's great visual attraction is the section on Ivan the Terrible--which includes the progress of an Eisenstein idea from possible inspiration (a Japanese woodcut) to sketch to still-photo from the completed film. Disappointingly, relatively few of the film-production memoirs here are Eisenstein's own. And the commentary by Eisenstein intimates Leyda and Voynow is too sporadic and arbitrary to establish a context for non-aficionados. Eisenstein buffs and scholars, however, will want to examine this handsome, uneven assemblage--for insights into Eisenstein influences (literary, artistic) and for some of the on-location, frame-by-frame documentation.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon with The Museum of Modern Art