Digital Narrative – Week 4

Montage and Film

Montage films are a juxtaposition of images. By interconnecting these images you create meaning that you would not expect.

  • Disorientating in terms of time and space
  • More experimental and challenging
  • Reveals the condtruction
  • Viewer has to put the fragments together to create meaning
  • Can be abrupt and visually shocking

Early Pioneers:

 Montage was experimented with in Russia in the 1920s:

Lev Kuleshov- Through his experiments and research, he discovered that depending on how shots are assembled the audience will attach a specific meaning or emotion to it. In this experiment, he cut an actor with shots of three different subjects: a hot plate of soup, a girl in a coffin, and a pretty woman lying in a couch. The footage of the actor was the same expressionless gaze. Yet the audience raved his performance, saying first he looked hungry, then sad, then lustful.

Dziga Vertov- He started assembling clips of film without regard for formal continuity, time, or even logic itself to achieve a ‘poetic’ effect which would grab the viewers. He directed Man with a movie camera (1929), a montage of the urban life in and around a Russian city.

Sergei Eisenstein- Einstein believed that film montage could create ideas or have an impact beyond the individual images. Two or more images edited together create a third thing that makes the whole greater that the sum of its individual parts.

Montage in Contemporary Cinema

 Darren Aronofsky-Requiem for a dream (2000)- Images and sound work together.

Stills Telling Stories

Gregory Crewdson- Twilight (1998-2002) Photo cinema-Still cryptic photographs tell stories.

Duane Michals- Photofictions – The Fallen Angel (1968)- Multi image narrative sequences often incorporating text to examine emotions.

Sequential Narrative

Stories told through images and sequencing these.

Enki Bilal- French comic book artist- The Woman Trap from The Nikopal Trilogy (1980-1992)

Scott McCloud- Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art (1993)

Chris Marker- His films resembled literary essays or epistles more than traditional documentaries, finding room for quirky personal observations, wit and seeming irrelevances. One of his earliest films, Letter from Siberia (1958), began exactly like a travel writer’s letter home: “I am writing to you from a far country…”

This was an interesting but complex lecture. I had never given any thought to montage films but as the lecture progressed this idea of images colliding or narrative sequencing opened my eyes as to how a narrative can be made much more interesting and exciting to watch.

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