Monday, August 04, 2008

"Let us finish with a classic example in this connection, from Eisenstein's masterpiece Battleship Potemkin: the montage of the three lightning shots of the stone lion with those salvoes from the battleship in revolt, and its effect. It is not just, as Pudovkin says, that this effect can be "reproduced in words only with difficulty": it is impossible to reproduce it or translate it into words or verbal "values" without entirely losing its filmic-visual artistry. Phrases such as "revolutionary lion" or "the very stones rise up and shout" and the like, into which we might and in fact do translate this celebrated visual metaphor, are generic, banal and impoverished by comparison with the montage of these shots of the lion. For the latter possess a far superior power of individuation, attained by the artistic use of plastic expressive force: an optical-expressive force achieved precisely in the modes of montage of photo-dynamic idea-images. By the same token, it would be impossible to turn Dante's lion

holding its head high and furious with hunger so that the air seemed in dread of it (Inf. I,II.47-48)

into filmic or pictorial or sculptural idea-images without entirely losing its artistry, which is of a poetic and literary character."

- G. della Volpe Critique of Taste

(sequence mentioned at 9:00, you may want to turn the sound off.)

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