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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 41, Issue 2/3, 2013

Михаил Ямпольский
Pages 167-186

Точка – пафос – тотальность

Mikhail Yampolsky. Point – pathos – totality. Two situations are possible when two fragments are confronted in montage. First, we can have a continuity corresponding to some established narrative codes. For instance, a character crosses the right border of the frame and reappears from behind the left side of the next frame. Such a figure will be read as a representation of continuity, but shown not in its integrity. The gap in spatial continuity is compensated here by the continuity of a story. On the other hand, we can have a junction that has no support by any code and that opens up opportunities for the display of metaphors, metonyms and allegories. There are also possibilities for violent conflicts and shocks as in Godard. We do not really know how all these non-codified figures of montage work. There is no generally accepted theoretical model that could explain how we are able to synthesize two heterogeneous pieces. All his life Sergei Eisenstein was fascinated by montage and tried to understand its way of functioning. He was particularly interested in solving the mystery of interaction between elements belonging to two different media such as sound and image and in their way of creating unity. This article focuses on Eisenstein’s late writings in which he used the idea of pathos and Hegelian dialectics for the analysis of montage as a dynamic process. According to Eisenstein, montage fuses different pieces of footage but also triggers the whole mechanism of the evolution of culture. Cinema, from this point of view, is not simply an art of modernity but a highest stage in the development of culture somewhat similar to the stage of the absolute knowledge that the spirit reaches in Hegel.

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