The Influence of Far Eastern Culture on the Creative Work of S.M. Eisenstein

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The article investigates the influence of Japanese and Chinese traditional culture on Sergey Eisenstein’s theory of artistic thinking, his activity as a film director. The author explores the origin of Eisenstein’s interest for the Far East in the historical context of the late 19th - early 20th century. Special attention is paid to his reflection on the nature of Japanese and Chinese drama, painting and poetry as well as its results manifested in his montage theory.

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 Abstract: The concept of montage, created by S. M. Eisenstein, is one of the most epochal and polemic in the whole history of film art. One of the methods which worked as a good catalyst for the development of Eisenstein’s film language is Far Eastern culture and Japanese art in particular. The influx of Japanese culture upon Russia started from the popularity of Japanese color print in Europe and political trends after the Russian-Japanese War. Eisenstein, rooted in both European cultural background and political stance, was impressed by his mentor V.E. Meyerhold’s acceptance of Japanese culture.

Among the oriental references studied by Eisenstein and applied to the theory and cinema, there were many Japanese aesthetic and philosophic ideas and trends such as the process of forming hieroglyphics, the images of Haikai and Tanga, Kabuki theatre and Japanese portrait. According to Eisenstein, these are all similar to what cinema does. In other words, two pieces collide to create a new meaning through the dialectical process. His concept of montage, which was actively studied with the help of oriental culture as a catalyst, is still topical. And it helps greatly to create a new film language. Although it is often used in mainstream cinema, such as Hollywood blockbusters, the aesthetic meaning of film art has been evolving on the basis of montage.

About the authors

Joon Il Song


Author for correspondence.

Post-Graduate student,VGIK


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Abstract - 71

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