Los Angeles -- We discovered or should we say re-discovered the length, width and depth a man's creativity is capable of achieving when it is unleashed within a medium as versatile as the mind of God. Meaning the infinite formed in the finite. 2+2 = 4 as we all know from Mathematics 101 and from the logic and rational that rules the boundary of our physical world.
But lets take a moment to ask the what if. The what if 2+2 = 5, if we are to think beyond the realm of reality. Beyond the realm of our 3 dimensional boundary and look toward a dimension pondered upon, theorized upon, debated upon and created upon. A dimension as Rod Sterling would say, "beyond sight and sound." A dimension so often the source, plot, theme of many a sci-fi flick, often poorly written, poorly acted, poorly made, yet fascinating enough to make us wonder the what if.
Are we still together? Good. A dimension Einstein theorized yet never seen until the advent of the cinema. The dimension I am speaking of is the 4th dimension. The dimension we commonly refer to as the dimension of time. For that is in essence what film-making is all about. The manipulation and replication of time or cinematic time.
In the previous commentary we looked at a man who by all accounts should have shared the Laurel with D.W. Griffith as the father of the moving image but was overlooked I guess by the circumstances of his time. But instead of dwelling on the Edison/Tesla debate let's further venture to say that Griffith was the father of the filmed narrative but Abel Gance, the French film auteur, was the father of the moving image through time. Although the Russians seem to hold the chair on this as we will say later. They certainly added and expanded on the concept that a film is not made in the camera but in the editing room.
In other words Griffith may have given us the grammar but Gance gave us the style through his extreme camera manipulation and frenetic montage style of editing. And with that we come to the principle method of what makes a movie a movie. It certainly is not the principle of a bunch of shots put together to create a sense or an illusion of grammatical continuity. What we have here is what in essence grew into the general theory called Montage or 2+2=5.
In other words by juxtaposing relatively unrelated, independent shots and sequences next to one another in relation to the overall story and plot we create a wholly more valued meaning than without the juxtaposition.
It has been said that the silent director of a movie is the editor. A good editor is not just the master of the technique but a fully involved practitioner of the technique.
Here is a glimpse of Abel Gance's "La Roue" (The Wheel) from 1922. This was several years prior to Sergei Eisentsein's Soviet propaganda film "Battleship Potemkin" and "Strike".
"Abel Gance was celebrated by his countrymen as France’s answer to D.W. Griffith." Kristin Thompson, Kevin B. Lee
Naturally it was the Odessa steps sequence that became the benchmark of montage that would later be exploited during the Golden Era of the Hollywood Studio System albeit not as creatively as during the silent era but just as potent. Here is the Odessa sequence in its entirety. Certainly not as experimental as Gance's camera work but just as potent. Gance may have been the architect of the montage editing technique but Eisenstein and the other Russian/Soviet masters of film making became the engineers of this fundamental method of writing through film a story.
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