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Who Invented Montage Technique in Film?

If you’ve ever watched Rocky, specifically as Stallone begins training hard for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a world-renowned boxer. Then you know the power of a montage in film! While the training sequences shown, particularly in Rocky IV as Stallone prepares to take on a Soviet and build. Most definitely the most heavily sought after reputation for himself, represent montage technique. This film is more than 30% montages. If you’ve seen it, you understand the technique and its ability to compress space, save time, and maximize information delivery. While presenting a series or sequence of events taking place in a fraction of the time. You know about the montage technique. But who invented the Montage technique in film?

Who Invented Montage Technique in Film?

The montage was theorized first by Russian Director Lev Kuleshov. Kuleshov would expose the “Kuleshov Effect”. In which he stated that there was a real cognitive event that occurred when viewers saw two sequential shots in which they would derive meaning.

Thus, by setting up a series of shots, one to the next. The filmmaker could elicit a particular emotional response from the audience.

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This theory would ultimately define film and film editing. Proving that the juxtaposition of two film shots that were strung together. To create a particular emotion could manipulate space and time as well as the audience’s reaction.

The Kuleshov Effect would become the basis for montage editing techniques that would arrive in the coming years.

By Soviet Director and student of Lev Kuleshov, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein. Eisenstein would be the first to use montage editing in film. And ultimately became known as the Father of Montage Theory.

Eisenstein’s Montage Theory

Sergei Eisenstein wrote a note of accord, “A Dialectic Approach to Film Form” in which he stated that a montage was not only the “nerve of Cinema” but also that “to determine the nature of montage is to solve the specific problem of cinema.” What did this mean?

While the idea of “montage” was actually invented by Kuleshov, Eisenstein codified the use of montage in Soviet Russia as well as in International Filmmaking. In fact, Eisenstein formalized montage exploration to focus on the use of montage in cinema to tell a story.

He would ultimately define five types of montage including:

  1. Metric Montage
  2. Rhythmic Montage
  3. Tonal Montage
  4. Intellectual Montage
  5. Overtonal Montage

Although Sergei Eisenstein was not the inventor of montage, he was behind the montage movement and is responsible for the introduction of the many different film montage techniques that are still used commonly in filmmaking and editing today.

Take a look at a film of Eisenstein’s utilizing montages, courtesy of One Hundred Years of Cinema: