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Great Directors: Sergei Eisenstein

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Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948) is known to film history as a 'revolutionary Russian director', a title justified by his contributions to the creation of the foundational myth of the Soviet State through his films Stachka (Strike, 1924), Bronenosets Potemkin (Battleship Potemkin, 1925) and Oktyabr (October, 1927). In commentaries ranging from early biographical accounts by his students, such as Marie Seton, to later assessments by Kirstin Thompson, David Bordwell, Richard Taylor and Anna Bohn, Eisenstein's oeuvre has been described as 'indissolubly linked to the project of the construction of socialism'. For a long time, Peter Wollen's verdict on Eisenstein, that 'we cannot separate the ideas which he developed from the matrix in which they were formed, the matrix of the Bolshevik Revolution' seemed to be definitive of Eisenstein's legacy. In recent years, scholars have developed more nuanced views of Eisenstein's achievements and influence as a filmmaker, film theorist and intellectual. As Ann Nesbett argues, we can now begin to acknowledge that 'Eisenstein is never clearly one thing over another, never philosopher enough or fool enough to be easily categorised, and his political attitudes, too, resist pigeonholing even as they seem to invite it'.

About Senses of Cinema:

Senses of Cinema is an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. We believe cinema is an art that can take many forms, from the industrially-produced blockbuster to the hand-crafted experimental work; we also aim to encourage awareness of the histories of such diverse forms. As an Australian-based journal, we have a special commitment to the regular, wide-ranging analysis and critique of Australian cinema, past and present. Senses of Cinema is primarily concerned with ideas about particular films or bodies of work, but also with the regimes (ideological, economic and so forth) under which films are produced and viewed, and with the more abstract theoretical and philosophical issues raised by film study.

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