Sergei Eisenstein

Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (Russian: Сергей Михайлович Эйзенштейн, IPA: [sʲɪrˈɡʲej mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪtɕ ɪjzʲɪnˈʂtʲejn], tr. Sergey Mikhaylovich Eizenshteyn; 22 January [O.S. 10 January] 1898 – 11 February 1948) was a Soviet film director and film theorist, a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage. He is noted in particular for his silent films Strike (1925), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1928), as well as the historical epics Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944, 1958). In their decennial poll, the Sight and Sound magazine named his Battleship Potemkin the 11th greatest movie of all time.[1]

Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein 03
Eisenstein in St. Petersburg, 1910s
Sergei Mikhailovich Eizenshtein

22 January 1898 (O.S. 10 January 1898)
Died11 February 1948 (aged 50)
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Years active1923–1946
Notable work
Spouse(s)Pera Atasheva (birth name Pearl Fogelman) 1934–1948, his death
AwardsStalin prize (1941,1946)

Early years

Young Sergei with his parents Mikhail and Julia Eisenstein.

Eisenstein[2] was born to a middle-class family in Riga, Latvia (then part of the Russian Empire in the Governorate of Livonia), but his family moved frequently in his early years, as Eisenstein continued to do throughout his life. His father, the famous architect Mikhail Osipovich Eisenstein, was born in Kiev Oblast, to a Jewish merchant family originating from Vasylkiv.[3] The family had converted to the Russian Orthodox Church. His mother, Julia Ivanovna Konetskaya, was from a Russian Orthodox family.[4] She was the daughter of a prosperous merchant.[5] Julia left Riga the same year as the Russian Revolution of 1905, taking Sergei with her to St. Petersburg.[6] Her son would return at times to see his father, who joined them around 1910.[7] Divorce followed and Julia left the family to live in France.[8] Eisenstein was raised as an Orthodox Christian, but became an atheist later on.[9][10]

At the Petrograd Institute of Civil Engineering, Sergei studied architecture and engineering, the profession of his father.[11] In 1918 Sergei left school and joined the Red Army to serve the Bolshevik Revolution, although his father Mikhail supported the opposite side.[12] This brought his father to Germany after the defeat of the Tsarist government, and Sergei to Petrograd, Vologda, and Dvinsk.[13] In 1920, Sergei was transferred to a command position in Minsk, after success providing propaganda for the October Revolution. At this time, he was exposed to Kabuki theatre and studied Japanese, learning some 300 kanji characters, which he cited as an influence on his pictorial development.[14][15] These studies would lead him to travel to Japan.


From theatre to cinema

Sadanji Ichikawa II and Sergei Eisenstein
With Japanese kabuki actor Sadanji Ichikawa II, Moscow, 1928.

In 1920 Eisenstein moved to Moscow, and began his career in theatre working for Proletkult.[16] His productions there were entitled Gas Masks, Listen Moscow, and Wiseman.[17] Eisenstein worked as a designer for Vsevolod Meyerhold.[18] In 1923 Eisenstein began his career as a theorist,[19] by writing "The Montage of Attractions" for art journal LEF.[20] Eisenstein's first film, Glumov's Diary (for the theatre production Wiseman), was also made in that same year with Dziga Vertov hired initially as an "instructor" [21][22]

Strike (1925) was Eisenstein's first full-length feature film. Battleship Potemkin (1925) was acclaimed critically worldwide. It was mostly his international critical renown which enabled Eisenstein to direct October (also known as Ten Days That Shook The World) as part of a grand tenth anniversary celebration of the October Revolution of 1917, and then The General Line (also known as Old and New). Internationally, critics praised the films, but at home, Eisenstein's focus in these films on structural issues such as camera angles, crowd movements, and montage brought him and like-minded others, such as Vsevolod Pudovkin and Alexander Dovzhenko, under fire from the Soviet film community, forcing him to issue public articles of self-criticism and commitments to reform his cinematic visions to conform to the increasingly specific doctrines of socialist realism.

Travels to Western Europe

In the autumn of 1928, with October still under fire in many Soviet quarters, Eisenstein left the Soviet Union for a tour of Europe, accompanied by his perennial film collaborator Grigori Aleksandrov and cinematographer Eduard Tisse. Officially, the trip was supposed to allow Eisenstein and company to learn about sound motion pictures and to present the Soviet artists in person to the capitalist West. For Eisenstein, however, it was also an opportunity to see landscapes and cultures outside the Soviet Union. He spent the next two years touring and lecturing in Berlin, Zürich, London, and Paris.[23] In 1929, in Switzerland, Eisenstein supervised an educational documentary about abortion directed by Tissé entitled Frauennot - Frauenglück.[24]

American projects

In late April 1930, Jesse L. Lasky, on behalf of Paramount Pictures, offered Eisenstein the opportunity to make a film in the United States.[25] He accepted a short-term contract for $100,000 ($1,500,000 in 2017 dollars) and arrived in Hollywood in May 1930, along with Aleksandrov and Tisse.

Eisenstein proposed a biography of munitions tycoon Basil Zaharoff and a film version of Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, and more fully developed plans for a film of Sutter's Gold by Blaise Cendrars,[26] but on all accounts failed to impress the studio's producers.[27] Paramount proposed a film version of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy.[28] This excited Eisenstein, who had read and liked the work, and had met Dreiser at one time in Moscow. Eisenstein completed a script by the start of October 1930,[29] but Paramount disliked it completely and, additionally, found themselves intimidated by Major Frank Pease,[30] president of the Hollywood Technical Director's Institute. Pease, an anti-communist, mounted a public campaign against Eisenstein. On October 23, 1930, by "mutual consent", Paramount and Eisenstein declared their contract null and void, and the Eisenstein party were treated to return tickets to Moscow at Paramount's expense.[31]

Eisenstein was thus faced with returning home a failure. The Soviet film industry was solving the sound-film issue without him and his films, techniques, and theories, such as Eisenstein's formalist film theory, were becoming increasingly attacked as 'ideological failures'. Many of his theoretical articles from this period, such as Eisenstein on Disney, have surfaced decades later as seminal scholarly texts used as curriculum in film schools around the world.

Eisenstein and his entourage spent considerable time with Charlie Chaplin,[32] who recommended that Eisenstein meet with a sympathetic benefactor in the person of American socialist author Upton Sinclair.[33] Sinclair's works had been accepted by and were widely read in the USSR, and were known to Eisenstein. The two had mutual admiration and between the end of October 1930 and Thanksgiving of that year, Sinclair had secured an extension of Eisenstein's absences from the USSR, and permission for him to travel to Mexico. The trip to Mexico was for Eisenstein to make a film produced by Sinclair and his wife, Mary Craig Kimbrough Sinclair, and three other investors organized as the "Mexican Film Trust".[34]

Mexican odyssey

Sergei Eisenstein visiting Rotterdam in 1930.

On 24 November 1930, Eisenstein signed a contract with the Trust "upon the basis of his desire to be free to direct the making of a picture according to his own ideas of what a Mexican picture should be, and in full faith in Eisenstein's artistic integrity."[35] The contract also stipulated that the film would be "non-political", that immediately available funding came from Mary Sinclair in an amount of "not less than Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars",[36] that the shooting schedule amounted to "a period of from three to four months",[36] and most importantly that: "Eisenstein furthermore agrees that all pictures made or directed by him in Mexico, all negative film and positive prints, and all story and ideas embodied in said Mexican picture, will be the property of Mrs. Sinclair..."[36] A codicil to the contract allowed that the "Soviet Government may have the [finished] film free for showing inside the U.S.S.R."[37] Reportedly, it was verbally clarified that the expectation was for a finished film of about an hour's duration.

By 4 December, Eisenstein was en route to Mexico by train, accompanied by Aleksandrov and Tisse. Later he produced a brief synopsis of the six-part film which would come, in one form or another, to be the final plan Eisenstein would settle on for his project. The title for the project, ¡Que viva México!, was decided on some time later still. While in Mexico Eisenstein mixed socially with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Eisenstein admired these artists and Mexican culture in general, and they inspired Eisenstein to call his films "moving frescoes".[38] The Left U.S. film community eagerly followed Eisenstein's progress within Mexico as is chronicled within Chris Robe's book Left of Hollywood: Cinema, Modernism, and the Emergence of U.S. Radical Film Culture.[39]

After a prolonged absence, Stalin sent a telegram expressing the concern that Eisenstein had become a deserter.[40] Under pressure, Eisenstein blamed Mary Sinclair's younger brother, Hunter Kimbrough, who had been sent along to act as a line producer, for the film's problems.[41] Eisenstein hoped to pressure the Sinclairs to insinuate themselves between him and Stalin, so Eisenstein could finish the film in his own way. The furious Sinclairs shut down production and ordered Kimbrough to return to the United States with the remaining film footage and the three Soviets to see what they could do with the film already shot, estimates ranging from 170,000 lineal feet with Soldadera unfilmed,[42] to an excess of 250,000 lineal feet.[43]

For the unfinished filming of the "novel" of Soldadera, without incurring any cost, Eisenstein had secured 500 soldiers, 10,000 guns, and 50 cannons from the Mexican Army,[41] but this was lost due to Sinclair's cancelling of production. When Eisenstein arrived at the American border, a customs search of his trunk revealed sketches and drawings of Jesus caricatures amongst other lewd pornographic material.[44][45] His re-entry visa had expired,[46] and Sinclair's contacts in Washington were unable to secure him an additional extension. Eisenstein, Aleksandrov, and Tisse were allowed, after a month's stay at the U.S.-Mexico border outside Laredo, Texas, a 30-day "pass" to get from Texas to New York,[46] and thence depart for Moscow, while Kimbrough returned to Los Angeles with the remaining film.

Eisenstein toured the American South, on his way to New York. In mid-1932, the Sinclairs were able to secure the services of Sol Lesser, who had just opened his distribution office in New York, Principal Distributing Corporation. Lesser agreed to supervise post-production work on the miles of negative—at the Sinclairs' expense—and distribute any resulting product. Two short feature films and a short subjectThunder Over Mexico based on the "Maguey" footage,[47] Eisenstein in Mexico, and Death Day respectively—were completed and released in the United States between the autumn of 1933 and early 1934. Eisenstein never saw any of the Sinclair-Lesser films, nor a later effort by his first biographer, Marie Seton, called Time in the Sun,[48] released in 1940. He would publicly maintain that he had lost all interest in the project. In 1978, Gregori Aleksandrov released - with the same name in contravention to the copyright - his own version, which was awarded with the Honorable Golden Prize at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival in 1979. Later, in 1998, Oleg Kovalov edited a free version of the film, calling it "Mexican Fantasy".

Return to Soviet Union

Sergei Eisenstein 02
Eisenstein c. 1935

Eisenstein's foray into the West made the staunchly Stalinist film industry look upon him with a suspicion that would never completely disappear. He apparently spent some time in a mental hospital in Kislovodsk in July 1933,[49] ostensibly a result of depression born of his final acceptance that he would never be allowed to edit the Mexican footage.[50] He was subsequently assigned a teaching position at the State Institute of Cinematography where he had taught earlier and in 1933 and 1934 was in charge of writing curriculum.[51]

In 1935, Eisenstein was assigned another project, Bezhin Meadow, but it appears the film was afflicted with many of the same problems as ¡Que viva México!. Eisenstein unilaterally decided to film two versions of the scenario, one for adult viewers and one for children; failed to define a clear shooting schedule; and shot film prodigiously, resulting in cost overruns and missed deadlines. Boris Shumyatsky, the de facto head of the Soviet film industry, finally called a halt to the filming and cancelled further production. The thing which appeared to save Eisenstein's career at this point was that Stalin ended up taking the position that the Bezhin Meadow catastrophe, along with several other problems facing the industry at that point, had less to do with Eisenstein's approach to filmmaking as with the executives who were supposed to have been supervising him. Ultimately this came down on the shoulders of Shumyatsky,[52] who in early 1938 was denounced, arrested, tried and convicted as a traitor, and shot.


Eisenstein was thence able to ingratiate himself with Stalin for 'one more chance', and he chose, from two offerings, the assignment of a biopic of Alexander Nevsky, with music composed by Sergei Prokofiev.[53] This time, he was assigned a co-scenarist, Pyotr Pavlenko,[54] to bring in a completed script; professional actors to play the roles; and an assistant director, Dmitri Vasilyev, to expedite shooting.[54]

The result was a film critically well received by both the Soviets and in the West, which won him the Order of Lenin and the Stalin Prize.[55] It was an allegory and stern warning against the massing forces of Nazi Germany, well played and well made. The script had Nevsky utter a number of traditional Russian proverbs, verbally rooting his fight against the Germanic invaders in Russian traditions.[56] This was started, completed, and placed in distribution all within the year 1938, and represented not only Eisenstein's first film in nearly a decade but also his first sound film.

Within months of its release, Stalin entered into a pact with Hitler, and Alexander Nevsky was promptly pulled from distribution. Eisenstein returned to teaching and was assigned to direct Richard Wagner's Die Walküre at the Bolshoi Theatre.[55] After the outbreak of war with Germany in 1941, Alexander Nevsky was re-released with a wide distribution and earned international success. With the war approaching Moscow, Eisenstein was one of many filmmakers evacuated to Alma-Ata, where he first considered the idea of making a film about Tsar Ivan IV. Eisenstein corresponded with Prokofiev from Alma-Ata, and was joined by him there in 1942. Prokofiev composed the score for Eisenstein's film and Eisenstein reciprocated by designing sets for an operatic rendition of War and Peace that Prokofiev was developing.[57]

Ivan trilogy

Eisenstein's film, Ivan the Terrible, Part I, presenting Ivan IV of Russia as a national hero, won Joseph Stalin's approval (and a Stalin Prize),[58] but the sequel, Ivan The Terrible, Part II, was criticized by various authorities and would go unreleased until 1958. All footage from the still incomplete Ivan The Terrible, Part III was confiscated, and most of it was destroyed, though several filmed scenes exist.[59][60]

Personal life

In 1934, in the Soviet Union, Eisenstein married filmmaker and screenwriter Pera Atasheva (born Pearl Moiseyevna Fogelman; 1900 - 24 September 1965)[61][62][63]. Although he had many affairs with men throughout, they remained married until his death. They had no children.


Eisenstein suffered a heart attack on 2 February 1946, and spent much of the following year recovering. He died of a second heart attack on 11 February 1948, at the age of 50.[64] His body lay in state in the Hall of the Cinema Workers before being cremated on 13 February, and his ashes were buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.[65]

Film theorist

Eisenstein was a pioneer in the use of montage, a specific use of film editing. He and his contemporary, Lev Kuleshov, two of the earliest film theorists, argued that montage was the essence of the cinema. His articles and books—particularly Film Form and The Film Sense—explain the significance of montage in detail.

His writings and films have continued to have a major impact on subsequent filmmakers. Eisenstein believed that editing could be used for more than just expounding a scene or moment, through a "linkage" of related images. Eisenstein felt the "collision" of shots could be used to manipulate the emotions of the audience and create film metaphors. He believed that an idea should be derived from the juxtaposition of two independent shots, bringing an element of collage into film. He developed what he called "methods of montage":

  1. Metric[66]
  2. Rhythmic[67]
  3. Tonal[68]
  4. Overtonal[69]
  5. Intellectual[70]

Eisenstein taught film-making during his career at GIK where he wrote the curricula for the directors' course;[71] his classroom illustrations are reproduced in Vladimir Nizhniĭ's Lessons with Eisenstein. Exercises and examples for students were based on rendering literature such as Honoré de Balzac's Le Père Goriot.[72] Another hypothetical was the staging of the Haitian struggle for independence as depicted in Anatolii Vinogradov's The Black Consul,[73] influenced as well by John Vandercook's Black Majesty.[74]

Lessons from this scenario delved into the character of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, replaying his movements, actions, and the drama surrounding him. Further to the didactics of literary and dramatic content, Eisenstein taught the technicalities of directing, photography, and editing, while encouraging his students' development of individuality, expressiveness, and creativity.[75] Eisenstein's pedagogy, like his films, was politically charged and contained quotes from Vladimir Lenin interwoven with his teaching.[76]

In his initial films, Eisenstein did not use professional actors. His narratives eschewed individual characters and addressed broad social issues, especially class conflict. He used stock characters, and the roles were filled with untrained people from the appropriate classes; he avoided casting stars.[77] Eisenstein's vision of communism brought him into conflict with officials in the ruling regime of Joseph Stalin. Like many Bolshevik artists, Eisenstein envisioned a new society which would subsidize artists totally, freeing them from the confines of bosses and budgets, leaving them absolutely free to create, but budgets and producers were as significant to the Soviet film industry as the rest of the world. Due to the fledgling war, the revolution-wracked and isolated new nation didn't have the resources to nationalize its film industry at first. When it did, limited resources—both monetary and equipment—required production controls as extensive as in the capitalist world.

Honours and awards



  • Selected articles in: Christie, Ian; Taylor, Richard, eds. (1994), The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents, 1896–1939, New York, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-05298-X.
  • Eisenstein, Sergei (1949), Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, New York: Hartcourt; translated by Jay Leyda.
  • Eisenstein, Sergei (1942) The Film Sense, New York: Hartcourt; translated by Jay Leyda.
  • Eisenstein, Sergei (1959), Notes of a film director, Foreign Languages Pub. House; translated by X. Danko Online version
  • Eisenstein, Sergei (1972), Que Viva Mexico!, New York: Arno, ISBN 978-0-405-03916-4.
  • Eisenstein, Sergei (1994) Towards a Theory of Montage, British Film Institute.
In Russian, and available online
  • Эйзенштейн, Сергей (1968), "Сергей Эйзенштейн" (избр. произв. в 6 тт), Москва: Искусство, Избранные статьи.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Sergei Eisenstein - Russian film director and film theorist. Biography and interesting facts".
  3. ^ Роман Соколов, Анна Сухорукова «Новые данные о предках Сергея Михайловича Эйзенштейна»: «Киноведческие записки» 102/103, 2013; стр. 314—323.
  4. ^ Эйзенштейн 1968 [1]
  5. ^ Bordwell 1993, p. 1
  6. ^ Seton 1952, p. 19
  7. ^ Seton 1952, p. 20
  8. ^ Seton 1952, p. 22
  9. ^ Al LaValley (2001). Eisenstein at 100. Rutgers University Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780813529714. As a committed Marxist, Eisenstein outwardly turned his back on his Orthodox upbringing, and took pains in his memoirs to stress his atheism.
  10. ^ Sergei Eisenstein (1996). Richard Taylor, ed. Beyond the stars: the memoirs of Sergei Eisenstein, Volume 5. BFI Publishing. p. 414. ISBN 9780851704609. My atheism is like that of Anatole France -- inseparable from adoration of the visible forms of a cult.
  11. ^ Seton 1952, p. 28
  12. ^ Seton 1952, pp. 34–35
  13. ^ Seton 1952, p. 35
  14. ^ Эйзенштейн 1968 [2]
  15. ^ Seton 1952, p. 37
  16. ^ Seton 1952, p. 41
  17. ^ Seton 1952, p. 529
  18. ^ Seton 1952, pp. 46–48
  19. ^ Seton 1952, p. 61
  20. ^ Christie & Taylor 1994, pp. 87–89
  21. ^ Эйзенштейн 1968 [3]
  22. ^ Goodwin 1993, p. 32
  23. ^ Eisenstein 1972, p. 8
  24. ^ Bordwell 1993, p. 16
  25. ^ Geduld & Gottesman 1970, p. 12
  26. ^ Montagu 1968, p. 151
  27. ^ Seton 1952, p. 172
  28. ^ Seton 1952, p. 174
  29. ^ Montagu 1968, p. 209
  30. ^ Seton 1952, p. 167
  31. ^ Seton 1952, pp. 185–186
  32. ^ Montagu 1968, pp. 89–97
  33. ^ Seton 1952, p. 187
  34. ^ Seton 1952, p. 188
  35. ^ Seton 1952, p. 189
  36. ^ a b c Geduld & Gottesman 1970, p. 22
  37. ^ Geduld & Gottesman 1970, p. 23
  38. ^ Bordwell 1993, p. 19
  39. ^ Left of Hollywood: Cinema, Modernism, and the Emergence of U.S. Radical Film Culture
  40. ^ Seton 1952, p. 513
  41. ^ a b Geduld & Gottesman 1970, p. 281
  42. ^ Eisenstein 1972, p. 14
  43. ^ Geduld & Gottesman 1970, p. 132
  44. ^ Seton 1952, pp. 234–235
  45. ^ Geduld & Gottesman 1970, pp. 309–310
  46. ^ a b Geduld & Gottesman 1970, p. 288
  47. ^ Bordwell 1993, p. 21
  48. ^ Seton 1952, p. 446
  49. ^ Seton 1952, p. 280
  50. ^ Leyda 1960, p. 299
  51. ^ Bordwell 1993, p. 140
  52. ^ Seton 1952, p. 369
  53. ^ González Cueto, Irene (2016-05-23). "Warhol, Prokofiev, Eisenstein y la música - Cultural Resuena". Cultural Resuena (in Spanish). Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  54. ^ a b Bordwell 1993, p. 27
  55. ^ a b Bordwell 1993, p. 28
  56. ^ Kevin McKenna. 2009. "Proverbs and the Folk Tale in the Russian Cinema: The Case of Sergei Eisenstein's Film Classic Aleksandr Nevsky." The Proverbial «Pied Piper» A Festschrift Volume of Essays in Honor of Wolfgang Mieder on the Occasion of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. by Kevin McKenna, pp. 277–92. New York, Bern: Peter Lang.
  57. ^ Leyda & Voynow 1982, p. 146
  58. ^ Neuberger 2003, p. 22
  59. ^ Leyda & Voynow 1982, p. 135
  60. ^ Blois, Beverly. "Eisenstein's "Ivan The Terrible, Part II" as Cultural Artifact" (PDF).
  61. ^ Bordwell 1993, p. 33
  62. ^ "Pera Atasheva" (in Russian). Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  64. ^ Neuberger 2003, p. 23
  65. ^ Cavendish, Richard. "The Death of Sergei Eisenstein". Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  66. ^ Eisenstein 1949, p. 72
  67. ^ Eisenstein 1949, p. 73
  68. ^ Eisenstein 1949, p. 75
  69. ^ Eisenstein 1949, p. 78
  70. ^ Eisenstein 1949, p. 82
  71. ^ Nizhniĭ 1962, p. 93
  72. ^ Nizhniĭ 1962, p. 3
  73. ^ Nizhniĭ 1962, p. 21
  74. ^ Leyda & Voynow 1982, p. 74
  75. ^ Nizhniĭ 1962, pp. 148–155
  76. ^ Nizhniĭ 1962, p. 143
  77. ^ Seton 1952, p. 185
  78. ^ a b Neuberger, Joan (2003). Ivan the Terrible: The Film Companion. I.B.Tauris. pp. 2, 9. ISBN 9781860645600. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  79. ^ Hincks, Joseph (21 January 2018). "Google Doodle Celebrates the Films of Sergei Eisenstein". Time. Retrieved 22 January 2018.


  • Bergan, Ronald (1999), Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict, Boston, Massachusetts: Overlook Hardcover, ISBN 978-0-87951-924-7
  • Bordwell, David (1993), The Cinema of Eisenstein, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-13138-5
  • Geduld, Harry M.; Gottesman, Ronald, eds. (1970), Sergei Eisenstein and Upton Sinclair: The Making & Unmaking of Que Viva Mexico!, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-18050-6
  • Goodwin, James (1993), Eisenstein, Cinema, and History, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06269-8
  • Leyda, Jay (1960), Kino: A History of the Russian And Soviet Film, New York: Macmillan, OCLC 1683826
  • Leyda, Jay (1986), Eisenstein on Disney, London: Methuen, ISBN 0-413-19640-2
  • Leyda, Jay; Voynow, Zina (1982), Eisenstein At Work, New York: Pantheon, ISBN 978-0-394-74812-2
  • Montagu, Ivor (1968), With Eisenstein in Hollywood, Berlin: Seven Seas Books, OCLC 8713
  • Neuberger, Joan (2003), Ivan the Terrible: The Film Companion, London; New York: I.B. Tauris, ISBN 1-86064-560-7
  • Nizhniĭ, Vladimir (1962), Lessons with Eisenstein, New York: Hill and Wang, OCLC 6406521
  • Seton, Marie (1952), Sergei M. Eisenstein: A Biography, New York: A.A. Wyn, OCLC 2935257
  • Howes, Keith (2002), "Eisenstein, Sergei (Mikhailovich)", in Aldrich, Robert; Wotherspoon, Garry, Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History from Antiquity to World War II, Routledge; London, ISBN 0-415-15983-0
  • Stern, Keith (2009), "Eisenstein, Sergei", Queers in History, BenBella Books, Inc.; Dallas, Texas, ISBN 978-1-933771-87-8
  • Antonio Somaini, Ejzenstejn. Il cinema, le arti, il montaggio (Eisenstein. Cinema, the Arts, Montage), Einaudi, Torino 2011


  • The Secret Life of Sergei Eisenstein (1987) by Gian Carlo Bertelli

Filmed biographies

  • Eisenstein (film) (2000) by Renny Bartlett, "a series of loosely connected (and unevenly acted) theatrical sketches whose central theme is the director's shifting relationship with the Soviet government" focusing on "Eisenstein the political animal, gay man, Jewish target and artistic rebel".
  • Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015) by Peter Greenaway.

Further reading

External links

55th Street Playhouse

The 55th Street Playhouse—periodically referred to as the 55th Street Cinema and Europa Theatre—was a 253-seat movie house at 154 West 55th Street, Midtown Manhattan, New York City, that opened on May 20, 1927. Many classic art and foreign-language films, including those by Jean Cocteau, Sergei Eisenstein, Federico Fellini, Abel Gance, Fritz Lang, and Orson Welles, were featured at the theater. Later, Andy Warhol presented many of his notable films (including Flesh (1968) and Lonesome Cowboys (1968) and others) in this building (as well as in other area theaters, including the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre) in the late 1960s. Other notable films were also shown at the theater, including Boys in the Sand (1971) and Him (1974).

Alexander Nevsky (film)

Alexander Nevsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Не́вский) is a 1938 historical drama film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It depicts the attempted invasion of Novgorod in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire and their defeat by Prince Alexander, known popularly as Alexander Nevsky (1220–1263).

Eisenstein made the film in association with Dmitri Vasilyev and with a script co-written with Pyotr Pavlenko; they were assigned to ensure that Eisenstein did not stray into "formalism" and to facilitate shooting on a reasonable timetable. It was produced by Goskino via the Mosfilm production unit, with Nikolai Cherkasov in the title role and a musical score by Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Nevsky was the first and most popular of Eisenstein's three sound films. In 1941 Eisenstein, Pavlenko, Cherkasov and Abrikosov were awarded the Stalin Prize for the film.

In 1978 the film was included in the world's 100 best motion pictures according to an opinion poll conducted by the Italian publishing house Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.Russia Beyond considers the film one of the 10 best Russian war films.

Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin (Russian: Бронено́сец «Потёмкин», Bronenosets Potyomkin), sometimes rendered as Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 Soviet silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers.

Battleship Potemkin was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. In 2012, the British Film Institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time.

Bezhin Meadow

Bezhin Meadow (Бежин луг, Bezhin lug) is a 1937 Soviet film famous for having been suppressed and believed destroyed before its completion. Directed by Sergei Eisenstein, it tells the story of a young farm boy whose father attempts to betray the government for political reasons by sabotaging the year's harvest and the son's efforts to stop his own father to protect the Soviet state, culminating in the boy's murder and a social uprising. The film draws its title from a story by Ivan Turgenev, but is based on the life of Pavlik Morozov, a young Russian boy who became a political martyr following his death in 1932, after he denounced his father to Soviet government authorities and subsequently died at the hands of his family. Pavlik Morozov was immortalized in school programs, poetry, music, and in film.Commissioned by a communist youth group, the film's production ran from 1935 to 1937, until it was halted by the central Soviet government, which said it contained artistic, social, and political failures. Some, however, blamed the failure of Bezhin Meadow on government interference and policies, extending all the way to Joseph Stalin himself. In the wake of the film's failure, Eisenstein publicly recanted his work as an error. Individuals were arrested during and after the ensuing debacle.Bezhin Meadow was long thought lost in the wake of World War II bombings. In the 1960s, however, cuttings and partial prints of the film were found; from these, a reconstruction of Bezhin Meadow, based on the original script, was undertaken. Rich in religious symbolism, the film and its history became the focus of academic study. The film was extensively discussed both inside and outside of the film industry for its historical nature, the odd circumstances of its production and failure, and its imagery, which is considered some of the greatest in cinema. In spite of the failure of Bezhin Meadow, Eisenstein would rebound to win Soviet acclaim and awards, and become artistic director of a major film studio.

Cinema of Latvia

Cinema of Latvia dates back to 1910 when the first short films were made. The first cinematic screening in Riga took place on May 28, 1896. By 1914 all major cities in Latvia had cinemas where newsreels, documentaries and mostly foreign made short films were screened.

Two years after cinema was invented by Lumiere brothers, on 22 January 1898 Sergei Eisenstein was born in Riga.

Eduard Tisse

Eduard Kazimirovich Tisse (Russian: Эдуа́рд Казими́рович Тиссэ́, Latvian: Eduards Tisē; 13 April 1897 – 18 November 1961) was a Soviet cinematographer.

Grigori Aleksandrov

Grigori Vasilyevich Aleksandrov or Alexandrov (Russian: Григо́рий Васи́льевич Алекса́ндров; original family name was Мормоненко or Mormonenko; 23 January 1903 – 16 December 1983) was a prominent Soviet film director who was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1947 and a Hero of Socialist Labor in 1973. He was awarded the Stalin Prizes for 1941 and 1950.

Initially associated with Sergei Eisenstein, with whom he worked as a co-director, screenwriter and actor, Aleksandrov became a major director in his own right in the 1930s, when he directed Jolly Fellows and a string of other musical comedies starring his wife Lyubov Orlova.

Though Aleksandrov remained active until his death, his musicals, amongst the first made in the Soviet Union, remain his most popular films. They rival Ivan Pyryev's films as the most effective and light-hearted showcase ever designed for the Stalin-era USSR.

Ivan the Terrible (1944 film)

Ivan the Terrible (Russian: Иван Грозный, Ivan Grozniy) is a two-part historical epic film about Ivan IV of Russia, written and directed by the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. It was commissioned by Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, who admired and identified himself with Ivan.

Part I was released in 1944; Part II was not released until 1958, as it was banned on the order of Stalin, who became incensed over the depiction of Ivan therein. Eisenstein had developed the scenario to require a third part to finish the story but, with the banning of Part II, filming of Part III was stopped; after Eisenstein's death in 1948, what had been completed of Part III was destroyed.

Janus Films

Janus Films is an American film distribution company. The distributor is credited with introducing numerous films, now considered masterpieces of world cinema, to American audiences, including the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sergei Eisenstein, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut, Yasujirō Ozu and many other well-regarded directors. Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957) was the film responsible for the company's initial growth.Janus has a close business relationship with The Criterion Collection regarding the release of its films on DVD and Blu-ray and is still an active theatrical distributor.

The company's name and logo come from Janus, the two-faced Roman god of transitions, passages, beginnings, and endings.


Mosfilm (Russian: Мосфильм, Mosfil’m pronounced [məsˈfʲilʲm]) is a film studio which is among the largest and oldest in the Russian Federation and in Europe. Its output includes most of the more widely acclaimed Soviet-era films, ranging from works by Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein (commonly considered the greatest Soviet director), to Red Westerns to the Akira Kurosawa co-production Dersu Uzala (Дерсу Узала) and the epic War and Peace (Война и Мир).

Political drama

A political drama can describe a play, film or TV program that has a political component, whether reflecting the author's political opinion, or describing a politician or series of political events.

Dramatists who have written political dramas include Aaron Sorkin, Robert Penn Warren, Sergei Eisenstein, Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre, Caryl Churchill, and Federico García Lorca.

Romance sentimentale

Romance sentimentale is a 1930 French film directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and Sergei M. Eisenstein. The film is also known as Sentimental Romance (International English title).

Sergei Eisenstein bibliography

A list of books and essays by or about Sergei Eisenstein:

Eisenstein, Sergei (1947). The Film Sense. Harcourt, Brace. ISBN 978-0-15-630935-6.

Eisenstein, Sergei (1974). Eisenstein: three films. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-430055-1.

Eisenstein, Sergei (1 January 1995). Beyond the Stars: The Memoirs of Sergei Eisenstein. Seagull Books. ISBN 978-81-7046-057-2.

Eisenstein, Sergei (1977). Film form: essays in film theory. Harcourt, Brace. ISBN 978-0-15-630920-2.

Eisenstein, Sergei; Taylor, Richard; Institute, British Film (December 1998). The Eisenstein reader. British Film Institute. ISBN 978-0-85170-675-7.

Goodwin, James (1 January 1993). Eisenstein, Cinema, and History. University of Illinois Press. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-252-06269-8.

LaValley, Albert J.; Scherr, Barry P. (2001). Eisenstein at 100: A Reconsideration. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-2971-4.

Moussinac, Léon (1970). Sergei Eisenstein. Crown Publishers.

Nesbet, Anne (15 June 2007). Savage Junctures: Sergei Eisenstein and the Shape of Thinking. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-418-3.

O'Mahony, Mike (22 July 2008). Sergei Eisenstein. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1-86189-449-6.

Passfield, John (21 September 2011). Death Day: The Apology of Sergei Eisenstein. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4634-3058-0.

Salazkina, Masha (1 August 2009). In Excess: Sergei Eisenstein's Mexico. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-73416-3.

Strike (1925 film)

Strike (Russian: Стачка, translit. Stachka) is a 1925 silent film made in the Soviet Union by Sergei Eisenstein. It was Eisenstein's first full-length feature film, and he would go on to make The Battleship Potemkin later that year. It was acted by the Proletcult Theatre, and composed of six parts. It was in turn, intended to be one part of a seven-part series, entitled Towards Dictatorship (of the proletariat), that was left unfinished. Eisenstein's influential essay, Montage of Attractions was written between Strike's production and premiere.The film depicts a strike in 1903 by the workers of a factory in pre-revolutionary Russia, and their subsequent suppression. The film is most famous for a sequence near the end in which the violent suppression of the strike is cross-cut with footage of cattle being slaughtered, although there are several other points in the movie where animals are used as metaphors for the conditions of various individuals. Another theme in the film is collectivism in opposition to individualism which was viewed as a convention of western film. Collective efforts and collectivization of characters are central to both Strike and Battleship Potemkin.

The General Line

The General Line, also known as Old and New (Russian: Старое и новое, translit. Staroye i novoye), is a 1929 Soviet drama film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov.

The General Line was begun in 1927 as a celebration of the collectivization of agriculture, as championed by old-line Bolshevik Leon Trotsky. Hoping to reach a wide audience, the director forsook his usual practice of emphasizing groups by concentrating on a single rural heroine. Eisenstein briefly abandoned this project to film October: Ten Days That Shook the World, in honour of the 10th anniversary of the Revolution. By the time he was able to return to this film, the Party's attitudes had changed and Trotsky had fallen from grace. As a result, the film was hastily re-edited and sent out in 1929 under a new title, The Old and the New. In later years, archivists restored The General Line to an approximation of Eisenstein's original concept. Much of the director's montage-like imagery—such as using simple props to trace the progress from the agrarian customs of the 19th-century to the more mechanized procedures of the 20th—was common to both versions of the film.

Ulitsa Sergeya Eyzenshteyna

Ulitsa Sergeya Eyzensteyna (Russian: Улица Сергея Эйзенштейна, English: Sergei Eisenstein Street) is the eastern terminus of the Moscow Monorail. It is located in the Ostankinsky District of the North-Eastern Administrative Okrug of Moscow.

¡Que viva México!

¡Que viva México! (Russian: Да здравствует Мексика! Da zdravstvuyet Meksika!) is a film project begun in 1930 by the Russian avant-garde director Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948). It would have been an episodic portrayal of Mexican culture and politics from pre-Conquest civilization to the Mexican revolution. Production was beset by difficulties and was eventually abandoned. Jay Leyda and Zina Voynow call it Eisentein's "greatest film plan and his greatest personal tragedy".

Films directed by Sergei Eisenstein

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