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[ 0 ] [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ topics : biomethod + biomechanics + method ]
* Denis Diderot, the French philosopher of the 18th century. The Paradox of Acting (written 1773-78; published 1830)
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Mask (part 3. acting2 textbook)

"Diderot and Stanislavsky about Digital Actor"

... and Kuleshov's experiments and the new anthropology of the actor : questia.com -- Inside the Film Factory: New Approaches to Russian and Soviet Cinema Book by Ian Christie, Richard Taylor; Routledge, 1991. 256 pgs.

Kuleshov's conception of the actor is not distinguished by any great originality, but is borrowed almost entirely from theatre theory of the 1910s and the beginning of the 1920s. There was at that time in Russia an active reaction against the method of Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theatre. The principle of the transformation and embodiment of the actor in the character was being criticised from all sides. At the same time a new anthropology of acting was being actively elaborated at the beginning of the 1910s: the major influences on it were the views of two theorists, the Frenchman F.A. Delsarte and the Swiss J. Dalcroze. The teaching of Delsarte figures among the teachings of physiognomy, which were very popular in the nineteenth century and which owed much, for instance, to the old works of G.G. Engel. He had elaborated a highly pedantic lexicon of gestures, each of which, according to the author, had a direct correlation with the psychological state of man. The originality of Delsarte's teaching consisted to a large extent in the accentuation of the rhythmic side of mime and gesture that is predictable in a system created by a professional musician. Dalcroze created a system of rhythmic gymnastics which was extremely popular in the 1910s and on which he based an original aesthetic theory. Delsarte's ideas began to penetrate Russia at the very beginning of the twentieth century. Yuri A. Ozarovsky lectured on his teaching as early as 1903 1 but it achieved real popularity around 1910-13 when the former director of the Imperial Theatres, Prince Sergei Volkonsky, became its propagandist. He published a series of articles on Delsarte and Dalcroze in the periodical Apollon and then published, under that periodical's imprint, several books giving a detailed exposition of the new acting system. Since the Volkonsky-Delsarte-Dalcroze system had a fundamental significance for film theory at the beginning of the 1920s, and in particular for Kuleshov, we must familiarise ourselves briefly with at least those elements that were later used by film-makers.

The Volkonsky system can conventionally be divided into two parts: the theoretical system of Dalcroze and the technological system of Delsarte, synthesised into a single whole. In 1912 Volkonsky published his translation of the book by Dalcroze's disciple, Jean d'Udine, that had gone into his system organically and represented a kind of philosophical reworking of the teaching of the Geneva rhythmologist (d'Udine relied mainly on Le Dantec, Bergson et al.). D'Udine was an ardent propagandist of the idea of synaesthesia and he compared man to a dynamo (in one of the first manifestations of the machine ethic in aesthetics) through which the rhythmic synaesthetic inductive impulses pass. Human emotion is expressed in external movement and, what is more, that movement can 'inductively' provoke in man the emotion that gave rise to the movement. He maintained that 'for every emotion, of whatever kind, there is a corresponding body movement of some sort: it is through that movement that the complex synaesthetic transfer that accompanies any work of art is accomplished'. 2 To ensure its artistic effectivity every movement has to be rhythmicised and music is the synaesthetic equivalent of body, movement: 'the ability to express feelings through musical combinations consists in nothing other than finding sound movements whose subtle rhythm corresponds to the body movement of someone experiencing enjoyment or suffering.' 3 It is from this that d'Udine derives the idea of the mimetic character of music, 'imitating' the internal rhythms that accompany the phenomena that exist in life. Rhythmicised body movements must, according to d'Udine, be 'segmentary'-that is, they must be fixed in certain poses: 'The manifestation of real artistic quality' requires that the rhythms, whether felt or imagined, be crystallised in an immutable form', 4 he declared, making an analogy between human expressive movement and the musical notation that records a melody. D'Udine promoted music to the position of the metalanguage of art: 'This would allow us', he wrote, 'to apply my plastic definition of melody, which is that all melody is a series of consecutive propositions, to the whole field of aesthetics and in the end that would allow us to say in more general terms: every work of art is a series of consecutive propositions.' 5 D'Udine concluded his work with this characteristic definition of art: art is 'the transmission of an emotion by means of stylised natural rhythm'.

In his articles 'Man as Material for Art. Music. Body. Dance' and 'Man and Rhythm. The System and School of Jacque-Dalcroze' (1912), Volkonsky refines some of the theses of the Swiss theorist: 'the first condition for creation in art is the adoption of a different rhythm, whether in the voice, in the movements of the body or in the soul's emotions.' 7 Furthermore, this different rhythm must be assimilated by the actor to the point where it becomes an unconscious automatism: 'Consciousness only plays its proper role when it is transformed into unconsciousness, that is when everything that has been acquired through consciousness is transformed into the mechanical impossibility of doing otherwise.' 8 Volkonsky's actor is distinguished from Gordon Craig's 'supermarionette' precisely because his rhythmicised movements are driven to unconsciousness by inner, conscious impulses and not by simple mechanical submission to the director's will.

The Delsartian, 'technological' part of the system is essentially orientated towards the search for a precise record of gesture, its segmentation like musical notation, and the exposure of the psychological content of each gesture. Delsarte, with his mania for the classification of the lexicography of mime, was even more categorical than d'Udine in his insistence on the extreme segmentation of gestures: 'Delsarte considered the independence of the limbs from one another to be the essential condition for expressiveness: any interference by another limb weakens the impression.' 9 To achieve a geometrically precise record of gestures Delsarte proposed to describe and produce them in three directions-width, height and depth: 'Each man is like the centre of his own universe. His "centrality" can develop dynamically in three principal directions, which correspond to the three "independent" directions in which the space of the universe is measured.' 10 Furthermore man can, as it were, stretch out from the centre and enter an eccentric state which expresses the manifestation of will, or gather himself in towards the centre (a concentric state), expressing the dominant of thought, of reason. Tranquillity, according to Delsarte, relates to the sphere of feeling. Volkonsky, following his teacher, describes all human movements according to the categories 'normal', 'eccentric' and 'concentric'. In Expressive Man Volkonsky provides a very detailed analysis of the sense of all sorts of 'segmentary' human movements in three directions (he calls this section of his system 'semiotics'), but the main content of his work is the elaboration of the 'laws of combination' of individual movements. He proclaims four principles of combination: 1. simultaneity; 2. succession; 3. opposition (total and partial); and 4. parallelism. Gesture acquires significance only in relation to its starting-point, the centre, but a combination of gestures acquires meaning only through the radial directions of movement (which is why Delsarte's three 'axes' are so important to him). Their opposition in radial directions is the fundamental expressive principle of the organisation of a 'phrase' chain. Volkonsky provides a long list of examples of these oppositions, for example, 'between the head, radiating along a perpendicular either away from or towards the body, and the hands, radiating from the elbows in the direction of breadth', and so on. 11 Volkonsky proposes that actors' movements should be constructed according to the principle of the succession of different combinations of gestures and asserts that 'only such a strict observation of the law of succession, stripped of the confusion that inevitably accompanies simultaneity, is a real organic development of movement' 12 constructed according to natural laws, the laws of mechanics: 'Just as the law of gravity is indisputable, so too are the laws of body movement and, consequently, also the laws of expressiveness; but, once laws are indisputable, their non-observance produces a lie. Study, master, observe the law, if you want your art to be true.' 13 It was on this basis that the original ethic of the new anthropology of the actor was constructed. The laws of movement were equated to the laws of nature (mechanics) and contrasted to the voluntarism of traditional artistic creation, in the same way as truth was contrasted to lie and nature to art. The following declaration by Volkonsky had a major significance for the aesthetics of the 1920s:

Man is a machine; yes, this machine is set in motion by feeling and 'oiled' by feeling but, since it is a machine, it obeys the general laws of mechanics. But you must remember this: if you make something mechanical without feeling (or sense), you will produce a caricature of life; whereas, if you produce a feeling with false mechanics, nothing will happen-you will achieve the absence of life. 14

This combination, which seems strange to us now, of mechanics and 'feeling' differentiates Volkonsky's ideas sharply from later Constructivism. We see before us the fruit of a meandering movement of thought that derived from the old physiognomy of pantomime and ballet but already anticipated the next step towards the machine ethic of the 1920s.


index * BioMethod Parts: I * II * III * IV * V * appendix * list * links * contents * Books * BioMechanics I * Biomechanics II * Directing * Script Analysis * Method Acting for Directors * SHOWS * Theatre Theory * Film * FAQ * Glossary * SPECTATOR * Virtual Theatre *

Diderot, notes

Paradox... Actor's Mind

acting : Diderot's Paradox of Acting -- Encyclopaedia Britannica

POLLOCK, Walter Herries. THE PARADOX OF ACTING., Translated with Annotations from Diderot's 'Paradox sur le Comedien.' With a Preface by Henry Irving. London: Chatto & Windus, 1883

* ideas of tableau and mise-en-scene as a theory of 'staging'
... Acting, as far as Diderot was concerned, is about simulation. If you're meant to act the part of someone who's lost a loved one, and you go on stage and think of terribly sad things in your own life that make you cry, then as far as Diderot is concerned you aren't acting any more: you've lost artistic control of the situation. The finest actor, Diderot would argue, is one who can cry on stage in a completely convincing way, yet feel absolutely nothing. This is the paradox of the actor.


for THR221 Intermidiate Acting (where to introduce?)

from Lev Vygodsky On the Problem of the Psychology of the Actor's Creative Work. [ The Collected Works of L.S. Vygotsky, Vol. 6 ]

... A step toward separating the system from its concrete expression was taken by E. B. Vakhtangov, whose stylistic aspirations were so very different from the initial naturalism of the Arts Theater but who, nevertheless, was aware that his own system was an application to new stylistic tasks of the basic ideas of Stanislavsky.

This can be demonstrated with the example of Vakhtangov's work on the staging of Princess Turandot. Wishing to project from the stage not simply the content of the tale, but his own contemporary relation to the tale, his irony, a smile "addressed to the tragic content of the tale," Vakhtangov creates a new content for the play.

B. E. Zakhava tells of a remarkable case from the history of the staging of this play: "At the first rehearsals, Vakhtangov used this device. He proposed the actors play not the roles indicated in the text of the play, but Italian actors playing these roles ... For example, he proposed that the actress playing the role of Adelma play not Adelma, but an Italian actress playing Adelma. He improvised (in the theme, supposing she were the wife of the director of the troupe and the mistress at the opening, that she is wearing broken shoes, that they are too big for her and when she walks, they flap at the heel, slap the floor, etc. Another actress playing Zelima is an idler who does not want to act, and she does not at all hide this from the public (she wants to sleep)" (1930, pp. 143-144).

Thus, we see that Vakhtangov directly changes the content of the play he is given, but in the form of its presentation, he depended on the same foundation that was put in place in the system of Stanislavsky: Stanislavsky taught that finding the truth of feelings on the stage is an internal justification of each stage form of behavior.

Zakhava says: "Internal justification, the basic requirement of Stanislavsky, remains as before one of the basic requirements of Vakhtangov, only the content itself of these feelings is entirely different with Vakhtangov than with Stanislavsky ... If the feelings now become different, if they require different theatrical means of expression, still the truth of these feelings is as it was and will always be unchangeably the basis of the soil on which only the flowers of genuine great art can grow." (ibid., p. 133).

The Paradox of Acting and Masks or Faces (Paperback) by Denis; Archer, William; Strasberg, Lee (editor) Diderot (Author)

[ direct.vtheatre.net ]

stanislavsky PDF

II (part I, right table)

The new anthropology of the actor spread through Russia with unusual speed. A large number of centres for Dalcrozian rhythmic gymnastics [eurhythmics] were set up and Volkonsky even started to publish a specialised periodical Rhythmic Gymnastics Courses [Listki kursov ritmicheskoi gimnastiki] (1913-14). In St Petersburg D.M. Musina-Ozarovskaya set up a 'School for Stage Expressiveness' and then the 'One Art' society, which set itself the aim of promoting a future synthesis of the arts on the basis of Delsarte's system. Representatives of the Petersburg artistic elite joined the society. Yuri A, Ozarovsky published a Delsartian journal called Voice and Speech [Golos i rech'] But the principal propagandist was Volkonsky, who gave hundreds of lectures about his system. The spread of the new anthropology was facilitated by the flowering of the Russian ballet, the tours of Isadora Duncan, etc. The ballet seemed for some time to be the principal expression of the new anthropological model of the actor and, more broadly, of man.

It was through theatre that the ideas of Volkonsky and his associates penetrated film circles. The first traces of their influence can be found around 1916. By 1918-19 among film-makers there was already an entire group of followers of Delsarte and Dalcroze. By coincidence there were among them a number of film-makers who actively supported Soviet power and, as a result, occupied key posts in cinema immediately after the October Revolution. Among them we should name first of all the famous director and actor of pre-Revolutionary cinema, Vladimir Gardin, who in 1918 was head of the fiction film section of the All-Russian Photographic and Cinematographic Section (VFKO) of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) People's Commissariat of Enlightenment (Narkompros). His associate was his old friend Vasili Ilyin, a painter, an actor and likewise a supporter of Volkonsky's system. Gardin had been interested in the training of the new actor in 1916 and had at that time planned with Ilyin the establishment of a 'Studio of Cinema Art'. In his diary entry for 15 December 1916 Gardin noted, 'Today Vasili Sergeyevich Ilyin is coming again to continue our never-ending discussion about the studio, the new army of film-makers who will conquer the world.' 15 He characterised his attitude towards cinema at that time in the following way: 'I have not withdrawn from cinema, but I have been dreaming of a studio and not of productions¡­ I am interested above all in research into working methods.' 16

Because of the war the studio never started work. After the Revolution and after holding the leading position in VFKO, Gardin achieved the improbable, the opening of the First State Cinema School, which he headed. Initially Gardin's plan had a Cyclopean character: it was his intention to open ten schools, each with a thousand students, and to create on the basis of these a new 'army' of film-makers 17 and, although this was not made clear, perhaps also a new anthropological type of man. There is little doubt that the existence of the school owed much to Gardin's enthusiasm for Volkonsky's new anthropology. It is enough to look at the complement of teachers. First Sergei Volkonsky was invited to teach there and take charge of the courses on the 'system of expressive man'. Many years later Gardin recalled Volkonsky's courses from 1919-20: 'The students had their hands and feet entangled in concentric, normal-eccentric and concentro-concentric positions.' 18 Then there was Ilyin, of whom Kuleshov wrote in his memoirs, 'Ilyin was an enthusiastic admirer of the Delsarte school and applied its teachings to our work at every opportunity. In addition, he developed and perfected it himself. We were extremely pleased with Ilyin's research.' 19 Elsewhere Kuleshov affirmed that it was in fact Ilyin who introduced him to the Delsarte system. 20 One of the other teachers was Nikolai Foregger, creator of the machine dances which were to become famous in the 1920s and were so obviously linked to the 'new anthropology'. At one time the school was headed by Valentin Turkin who shared the general interest in Volkonsky's system. The school maintained particularly close contacts with the Experimental Heroic Theatre directed by Boris Ferdinandov, who had created the Dalcrozian theory of 'metro-rhythm'. For a while Kuleshov's Workshop even took shelter in the building of this theatre. The appearance within the film school's walls of Kuleshov, who had been Gardin's prot§Ûg§Û since 1918 (when Gardin had invited him to take charge of the newsreel and re-editing section of VFKO), was to be expected. Kuleshov professed a Delsartism that was even more orthodox than that of the other teachers.

The foundations of future Soviet film theory were being laid around the film school and in its midst. We might apparently even be justified in talking about a specific GTK-GIK film theory. 21 Before we define the main body of ideas of this collective theory, we must answer the question: why has the history of film thought ignored this important theoretical complex? We can cite a whole range of reasons. There is no written record of the ideas expressed by many of the participants in the collective. Gardin, for example, never published his theoretical findings which became known only in 1949 after their detailed exposition in his Memoirs. We know practically nothing about Ilyin's ideas. By 1922-3 there was in addition a noticeable distance emerging between Kuleshov, who had adopted the positions of LEF [Levyi front iskusstv (Left Front of the Arts)], and his former associates (above all Gardin), who had maintained closer links with the pre-Revolutionary artistic tradition. And we must not forget personal quarrels. At the beginning of the 1920s there was a break between Kuleshov and Ilyin, which in Kuleshov's later memoirs was attributed to Ilyin's scholastic Delsartism, 22 although in this conflict we must obviously not exclude personal motives. The break with Turkin followed in 1925 after the publication of his book The Cinema Actor [Kino-akter], which contained scarcely veiled attacks on Kuleshov. Thus, at the very moment when Kuleshov's theory was beginning to achieve widespread popularity-1925-the collective of the film school was disintegrating and the traces of its former unity were being lost in later polemics and personal conflicts.

Gardin was the central figure in the history of the film school in its first stage. He had come to the notion of the need to create a new type of actor for cinema as early as 1913 while working on the film The Keys to Happiness. He invited the non-professional Alexander Volkov to play one of the leading roles and Volkov astonished him with the veracity of his acting. Gardin was later to call Volkov 'the first model actor [naturshchik] in cinema'. 23 It was then that he came to the idea of the prime importance for cinema of physiognomy and physiognomic characterology and he divided actors into three groups: the emotional type, the rational-technical type and the technical type. Simultaneously he began to use his rudimentary knowledge of physiology and reflexology in his work with actors. By 1916, as is evident from his diary, Gardin's film theory had been fully formed. His orientation towards the model actor was already evident: indeed in 1916 Gardin was already using the term widely (possibly for the first time in the history of Russian film. theory). Gardin divided each action into four 'physiological' stages and based the actor's work on the transitions from one 'segmentary phase' to another. On 18 May 1916 he wrote in his diary:

Today the shooting was difficult. In the schemata that I definitively adopted for absolutely every draft close-up montage combination (and also for the temporal calculations of the mechanics of spiritual life), I am beginning to assemble the individual signs that characterise each element in the four-part formula that I took as the basis for all schemata: 1. Sensation (impression) is the external or internal stimulant.

 2. Perception is the orientation.  
 3. Comprehension is the brake.  
 4. Appellation is the (sound) reaction-the word. 24  
The desire to divide action into such minute physiological phases (and the enormous role that he attributed to the eye in this process of movement) led Gardin towards the widespread use of close-ups, that is, the cutting off of the actor by the frame of the shot, which was partly analogous to Delsarte's 'independence of the limbs from one another'. The desire to set out the elements of action according to a precise four-part formula created the necessity for properly thought-out 'close-up montage combinations'. Hence the requirements of the new anthropology of the actor encouraged in Gardin's mind the idea of montage. Gardin himself recognised perfectly the significance of these theoretical studies: That is how my first thoughts arose on the possibilities of montage combinations and on the conversion of acting to the expressive movement of the parts of the actor's body and to the condition of objects symbolising the actions of man', he wrote. 25 This formulation is interesting because we can still detect in it an indissoluble link between the idea of montage and the body of the actor: the 'possibilities of montage combinations' are directly linked to the 'conversion of acting to the expressive movement of the parts of the actor's body'. Montage was thus understood as a cinematographic form of organisation of the actor's behaviour.

Gardin was simultaneously taken by the idea of founding a film school where he intended to conduct a 'basic course' on 'man's behaviour in front of the camera lens'. He declared: 'One day a new man, unspoiled by theatre will appear in cinema. He is the one with whom and on whom it will be possible to experiment.' 26 Thus by 1916 Gardin had already worked out an approach to the cinema actor as 'model actor' and as material for montage treatment. By 1919 Gardin's ideas had acquired a more and more openly expressed Delsartian character. Parallel with this came a further elaboration of montage category. Even before Kuleshov arrived at the film school Gardin was giving a special lecture on montage and at that time he defined cinema as 'a rhythmic alternation of film fragments whose composition¡­ was united into a film on the basis of a montage calculation, which was one of the most important calculations in the direction of a film'. 27 Gardin wrote:

Starting from this definition, I tried to establish the creative tasks in directing a work, above all to teach a sense of the rhythm of the film being made¡­. Rhythm is an endless theme. Movement and the endlessly varying alternation of acceleration and slow motion in accordance with certain calculations are the form of rhythm and the recording of them will be the technique and the sense included in the word 'cinematography'. 28

Hence montage was also understood as the rhythmological key, given that the film was, in the spirit of Dalcroze and Volkonsky, proclaimed to be a 'recording' of rhythm.

In practice Gardin's promised experiments with the model actor took the form of a series of exercises with 'velvet screens'. With the aid of these screens he formed a window whose shape recalled the frame of a film shot. Into the window he put the face of the actor who had to work out precise mimic reflex reactions to stimuli. In this process most attention was devoted to the movement of the eyes, which were recorded in complex schemata. As a result Gardin elaborated '1,245 compositions which could be used to arrange the head of the person being filmed in the frame'. 29 These compositions were partly copied from Delsarte's schemata. These experiments with frames transferred the whole emphasis on to close-up and the miming of the actor. The rhythmic montage aspect was here almost absent, remaining principally in the field of theory. The methodology of the velvet screens was later vehemently criticised by Kuleshov. But it is obvious that this very methodology is the direct consequence of the path taken by Gardin, a return to the sources of his film theory, the close-ups of 1916 with the most scrupulous recording of the 'reactive phases'. But to a certain extent it is also Volkonsky's 'montage'; at any rate it is very reminiscent of the experiments that the latter conducted in his lectures. Thus, one account of his lectures reported as early as 1913 (the year when Gardin made his first film):

S.M. Volkonsky showed nine faces on the screen with corresponding expressions, from the normal-normal (serene calm) to the eccentric-eccentric (ecstasy). These nine typical expressions incorporated nine typical glances¡­. Combined with the nine expressions that depended on the brows and eyelids, these nine glances produced 81 typical expressions for the eyes. 30

The similarity to Gardin's experiments with the screens is striking: 1,245 compositions are of course the product of a gigantic detailed study of Volkonsky's 81 eye expressions. Let us note in passing that Volkonsky's faces were demonstrated on the screen and that Gardin's velvet screens corresponded to this pseudocinema.

After Gardin the film school was headed for a short time by F. Shipulinsky and his place was then taken by Valentin Turkin. His positions in the field of theory had a more radical character. Turkin's theoretical evolution is more difficult to reconstruct than Gardin's but it is similar in part. In 1918 Turkin was one of the leading figures on the Moscow newspaper Kino-gazeta. There he published an article which was fundamental for that time, 'Simulators and Models', in which he used Gardin's term in extremely declarative form:

The first truth that I should like to proclaim is that on the screen the actor is equal to the model actor and valuable because he can, when he has thrown off the rags of stage theatricality, condescend, descend to the level of that picturesque theatricality of life that is characteristic of the beggar at the church door [etc., etc.]. 31
The pages of Kino-gazeta carried two other articles that were to have considerable significance later: the article 'The Screen and Rhythm' by Anna Lee (the pen-name of Anna Zaitseva-Selivanova, the future wife of Pudovkin) and Kuleshov's article 'The Art of Cinema', which contained Kuleshov's first reflections on montage. Turkin, as the 'leader' of the newspaper, was the 'godfather' of both. The two articles are almost the first Dalcrozian declarations in film theory. Anna Lee begins her piece with an almost word-for-word repetition of Volkonsky:
It is necessary for our intuition, our taste, our heart, our intellect-for everything, everything to merge, to vibrate and to blend harmoniously with the tasks of the artist. This is only possible when the symbols, the signs through which he wants us to read his artistic intentions are rhythmically realised¡­. It is only when he is armed with a knowledge of rhythm, especially screen rhythm, that the actor, like a singer who has mastered the musical sol-fa, will be able to do battle with any element of chance, 'for no two things are more hostile to one another than art and chance' (Volkonsky). 32
Anna Lee sensed the need to find a cinematographic equivalent to the rhythm of the actor but she did not contemplate montage. Her solution looked extremely naive:
The actor performs and simultaneously the camera (cameraman) operates, like a metronome establishing a certain tempo. The unit of speed of the performing actor does not correspond to the unit of speed of the camera in operation and this causes arrhythmia¡­. But, if we add to this a third rhythm, that of the projector and the theatre, the result will be rhythmic inarticulacy. 33
Anna Lee proposes to find a 'coefficient of movement', a 'general constant', an 'amalgamating unit' that would help to synchronise the three rhythms. Anna Lee's line of thought is very interesting: the new anthropology of the actor urgently requires the discovery of a rhythmic law of cinema and it is to be found in the natural 'metronome' of cinema, the cranking of the camera, the potential 'rhythmiciser' of the choreography of cinema. It is no accident that the article states: 'The grotesque results of dancing [on the screen], even when performed by professionals, confirm and underline the absence of rhythm from the screen.' 34

Kuleshov's article was written before Anna Lee's piece. But it contains a direct response to 'The Screen and Rhythm'. In this article the problem of montage and rhythm was still in the background. It is evident that they did not completely preoccupy Kuleshov because the major part of the article (like his 1917 articles in Vestnik kinematografii) was devoted to the problems of the art of set decoration. There was none the less a passage that appeared to be extremely close to Gardin's views at that time:

Each individual work of art has its own basic method to express the idea of art. Very few film-makers (apart from the Americans) have realised that in cinema this method of expressing an artistic idea is provided by the rhythmical succession of individual still frames or short sequences conveying movement-that is what is technically known as montage. 35
This first definition of montage in Kuleshov's work is still pure Gardin and imbued with the spirit of Dalcroze-Volkonsky. The basis of cinema is rhythm (as in Anna Lee) but its realisation is in montage. Lee's article apparently had a powerful effect on Kuleshov and played a particular role in his theoretical evolution. In 1920 in his theoretical 'summing up', 'The Banner of Cinema', he openly argued against 'The Screen and Rhythm', beginning the exposition of his own theory with precisely the question of dance. Without naming Anna Lee, he sets out, with some misrepresentation, her position on the discrepancy between the camera and the choreography of cinema and then argues:
Let us suppose that dance turned out on screen as well as when it was performed during the shooting, what would we have achieved by this? We should have achieved a situation in which the art of dance could be precisely reproduced on a strip of film. But in that case cinema would have been no more than living photography of dance and on screen we should have achieved the reproduction of the art of ballet but there would be no cinema art in it at all. 36
This polemic explains the origin of one of Kuleshov's experiments, 'the dance'. But it is equally evident that it also follows the broad outlines of film theory at that time, from the rhythmic anthropology of man to rhythmic montage as its cinematographic quintessence. In this sense Kuleshov was not very original. Gardin was thinking along the same lines and Turkin was evolving in the same direction. In 1918 he was fighting for the model actor. And there is nothing more natural than that in 1922 he should be one of the principal propagandists of rhythmic montage.

We shall cite a lengthy quotation from Turkin which expresses his 1922 views:

The basic element in the form of cinema art is montage. Experience [perezhivanie], mood, the expression of movements of the soul are false means for the actor to make an impression on the audience. The principal means of making an impression in cinema is montage. Montage is the combination of separate moments of action according to the principle of the strongest impression. Action unfolds in space and lasts in time. Art consists in the construction of space and the composition of movement (action) in time. The composition of movement (action) in time is its distribution in a definite rhythmic schema. Action on screen is composed of the alternation of fragments and the movement of a man, a horse, a car, an aeroplane in individual fragments. Each movement of the fragments (between and within the fragments) must be constructed rhythmically (or metro-rhythmically, if we accept the new phraseology). The rhythmic construction of cinema action is montage. 37
Everything in this statement is very characteristic of the type of thinking associated with the film school group. Everything begins with the actor, then passes to rhythm and concludes with the assertion that the rhythmic construction of a film is montage.

Turkin's position is of course close to Kuleshov's position in 1918. But we should not assume that this is the result of a straightforward borrowing. In 1918 Kuleshov was saying the same thing as Gardin. In 1922 Turkin is repeating both of them. What we have here is not so much the product of the individual creativity of each one of them as the fundamental principle of what we have already called 'the "film school" film theory'.


Gardin had met Kuleshov in Moscow in 1918. 'In the space of ten minutes he managed to utter the word "montage" twenty times', 38 Gardin recalled. Kuleshov's enthusiasm for montage probably predetermined his assignment to the newsreel section and to his later work on re-editing films. In the process of re-editing Kuleshov discovered his famous 'effect' with Mosjoukine's face. In the summer of 1919 he set out with Eduard Tisse, later Eisenstein's cameraman, for the Eastern Front where he filmed a newsreel. He returned from the front in October 1919. Gardin's film school had begun work in September 1919. The work of the film school interested Kuleshov a great deal and he was always visiting it 'as a guest'. In 1920 he got what he had no doubt wanted very badly: he was appointed to the staff of the school as a teacher. This happened approximately at the end of March or the beginning of April 1920 and Kuleshov immediately joined in as one of the most active members of the collective. For the whole of April he worked with Gardin and his wife Olga Preobrazhenskaya on a 'sketch of film

Figure 4 'Every emotion is accompanied by a specific sign in the body and face,' Vladimir Inkizhinov (left), Leonid Obolensky and Alexandra Khokhlova in a 1923 rooftop '§Ûtude' by the Kuleshov Workshop.
rehearsals on an agitational theme in three reels and 86 scenes with an apotheosis'. 39 The sketch was based on Gardin's velvet screens and was shown on 1 May. At that moment Kuleshov was a long way from opposition to Gardin and was actively assimilating the new anthropology of the actor. At that time he was apparently mastering Volkonsky's teaching, with which he had come into contact at the school, and studying Delsarte and Dalcroze, particular task¡­. For theatre actors these laws have been discovered by Delsarte. It would not be a bad idea to re-examine them and extract from them anything that might prove useful to the film-maker. 40

Kuleshov did not incline towards Delsartian semiotics, unlike Gardin, who had stuck with the search for a mimic alphabet of signs, but towards Volkonsky's 'laws of combination' in which the sense derived from oppositions, contrasts, parallelisms, etc. It was in this context that he subjected the system of velvet frames to a critique, but with one reservation: 'Basically, of course, this idea is fine but the significance of close-up for the film-maker lies solely in montage and it can have no independent value for him.' 41 He went on to set out his own methodology, demonstrating the error of Gardin's ways:

1. An incorrect exercise. In the first frame you show a man with a look of hatred: in the second another man whose look answers the first-triumph, etc.

2. A correct exercise, which has to be performed several times. The first frame is as in the previous instance, for the second time you see the man's look of hatred in the frame, and in the following frame a hand holding a letter. The content of the scene has changed. 42

It is not difficult to see that Kuleshov was proposing to reconstruct his own experiment with Mosjoukine in the velvet frames. But the most interesting thing in the article was the fact that the Mosjoukine experiment, which was not directly mentioned, was inextricably linked to the body of the actor understood as the universal model for montage: 'If we mask the actor and force him to strike a sad pose, the mask will express sadness: but if the actor strikes a joyful pose, it will look to us as if the mask is joyful too.' 43 Kuleshov was already re-thinking the Delsarte-Volkonsky system as a source of pure montage: segments of the human body are like signs opposed to one another and they make sense in precisely that opposition. The description of the man in the mask is a direct transposition on to the actor's body of the 'Kuleshov effect', in which Mosjoukine's mask-like face changed its expression within various montage juxtapositions.

Thus, Kuleshov had fully mastered the main complex of ideas of the 'film school theory' but was fighting to reorientate it in principle towards montage, towards the cinematographisation of Delsarte on the basis of the principles of montage. The conclusion to the article left no doubt whatsoever on this score:

all kinds of art have one essence and we must look for that essence in rhythm. But rhythm in art is expressed and achieved in various ways: in theatre through the actor's gesture and voice, in cinema through montage. Consequently the arts differ from one another in their specific methods of mastering their material, their means of achieving rhythm¡­. In using the arguments that have just been set out, we want

Kuleshov arrived at the school as a 'specialist in montage' with a whole series of relatively vague notions about it which gradually took shape into a system with an active orientation towards the new anthropology. The year 1920 was marked by a strengthening of his theoretical work. It was then that he wrote his programmatic text, 'The Banner of Cinema'. But the differences in principle between his theoretical position and Gardin's soon became apparent. They are recorded in the article 'What Must Be Done in Film Schools'. The starting-point for Kuleshov's argument here was Delsarte's system:

nature has made man so that every emotion he experiences is accompanied by a specific sign in his body and face¡­. Consequently the teacher must show the pupil the law of nature that corresponds to the to remind you once again of the importance of Delsarte in the model actor's pose. For now it is more obvious that the working methods of other arts can also be applied to cinema but that this must be done in a cinematographic way: that is, we take the law of an idea that is common to all the arts and look for means that are characteristic of cinema to exploit that idea. 44
An eloquent argument: for Kuleshov montage was a specifically cinematographic analogue of the Delsartian pose. They had a common aim: rhythm.By 1921 there was an urgent need to subject Kuleshov's ideas to experimental verification (cf. Gardin's tendency to experiment with the model actor). In March 1921, after receiving 90 metres of film, Kuleshov shot six montage experiments. Here is a list of them taken from Kuleshov's application to the Photographic and Cinematographic Section of the Artistic Sector of the Moscow Regional Political Education Committee:
1. a dance, filmed from one place-10 metres
2 a dance, filmed using montage-10 metres
3. the dependence of the model actor's experience on the causes of that experience:
(a) 14 metres
(b) 20metres

4. the arbitrary combination of various scenes of action into a single composition-13 metres [the 'creative geography' experiment]

5. the arbitrary combination of the parts of different people's bodies and the creation through montage of the desired model actor-12 metres [the 'created man' experiment]

6. the uniform movement of the eyes of a model actor-2 metres. 45

Of these six experiments the history of cinema has preserved the memory of only two: the 'created man' and 'creative geography'-the others are practically never mentioned. But, if we look at the whole programme of experiments in its entirety, we can easily see that the sixth experiment fell within the Dalcroze-Volkonsky orbit. The third experiment recalled the Mosjoukine experiment but was partly reformulated in the categories of reflexology. The first, second, fourth and fifth experiments are closely linked to one another. First we have the non-montage image of a dance (not specifically cinematographic), then we are offered three different types of the dismemberment and combination of objects. The dance is composed of fragments that have been filmed with a single model, while the fourth and fifth experiments assemble the body of a man or the 'body' of the world from fragments of various objects. The Delsartian idea of dismemberment and combination is here clearly evident.

Judging by the frequency of the references in the texts and its place in the list, the 'dance' experiment was the most important to Kuleshov, although in later analyses it has been completely overshadowed. The significance of this experiment does not depend merely on the retrospective polemic with the article by Anna Lee, to which we have referred. The dance was essentially the only subject which clearly raised the problem of rhythm. Rhythm had been postulated as the principal aim of montage, but neither the Mosjoukine experiment nor the 'created man' were complete responses to this aim.

It is also essential to remember that in the 1920s, even more than in the 1910s, the tendency to transform choreography into a metamodel for the performing arts was being reinforced. It was Tairov who made a significant contribution to choreographic rhythmology and Meyerhold's biomechanics is genetically linked to it. But for Kuleshov it was the theory and practice of Boris Ferdinandov's Experimental Heroic Theatre, with which he maintained very close links, that were of major importance. It is of course no accident that, after the break with the film school, the 'Kuleshov collective' moved into the building occupied by the Experimental Heroic Theatre. In his memoirs Kuleshov wrote enthusiastically about Ferdinandov, clearly counting him among his 'teachers'. 46

Among Moscow theatres at the beginning of the 1920s there was none that was as clearly orientated towards choreography as the Experimental Heroic Theatre. V. Tikhonovich, who took Ferdinandov's ideas to the verge of absurdity, wrote:

the 'anarchy' that reigned in the drama theatre was linked to the fact that in drama people do not dance, but walk, stand, sit, lie, etc., they do not sing, but speak, shout, cry, laugh, are silent, etc¡­. It has to be said that the dramatic theatre has simply fallen behind opera and ballet in its own artistic development¡­. But, say the Old Believers, we shall more or less eradicate the clear boundaries between drama, ballet and opera. Even better, this is a compliment to the Ferdinandov system: it seems to lead us towards a synthetic theatre, a theatre of gesture and dance merged into a single whole, of merged speech and song, a theatre which provides obvious opportunities for the future. 47
Ferdinandov created the system of metro-rhythm that was popular in the 1920s. His starting-point was the fact that theatre was a wholly dynamic art. The organisation of the dynamics of artistic form had to take on a metro-rhythmic form that was subject to the basic laws of mechanics. Ferdinandov tried to reduce all stage movements to metres that were close to those of music and poetry. He distinguished two-beat and three-beat measures of movement. The metric organisation of stage movement set Ferdinandov the problem of recording movement: 'The resolution of the bases of theatrical recording', he wrote, 'is a problem for regular theatre: we are also working on it in our theatrical laboratory.' 48 He also paid a considerable tribute to reflexology. But it is particularly interesting for us that Ferdinandov spoke systematically of montage:
Theatre is the art of the human body, consisting of three basic elements: the acoustic (sound-voice), the mimic (movement proper) and the psychological (sensation, reflex, deed, feeling-in a word, emotion)-plus montage which surrounds the man-actor in his main work. 49
Although for Ferdinandov montage was in many ways an external element, it was also subject to his metro-rhythm: 'The same laws of metro-rhythm, tempo, accord, theatrical harmony and counterpoint also guide the construction of theatrical montage¡­and its combination with the actor's basic work.' 50 Thus a kind of choreography was promoted to the position of an organisational principle in relation to montage as well. Furthermore the montage principle was also introduced into the actual work of the actor. Ferdinandov's theatre was called 'normative' or 'analytical' theatre precisely because it postulated the necessity for the montage segmentation of movements: 'you can construct a stage work on a succession of elementary movements, using the movement of only one organ of the body at each moment in time', 51 wrote the theatre enthusiast Nikolai Lvov. This 'successive' and analytical plastic art was described by Ferdinandov's opponent Ippolit Sokolov as a collection of 'typically Jewish artificial little gestures bordering on caricature¡­an insupportable uniformity of conventional and schematic movements'. 52 In many ways theatre was being constructed as an analogue of the system of 'notation' of rhythmicised movements.

Kuleshov's move away from Gardin's methodology was clearly stimulated by the influence of Ferdinandov's metro-rhythm, based essentially on Volkonsky's system which it had significantly modernised. 'In normative theatre people work unconsciously with primitive cinematographic technique', 53 Kuleshovwrote in 1922. But in the 'Work Plan for the Experimental Cinema Laboratory', compiled in 1923, we find: 'Work in time. The preparatory concept of metre and rhythm. Exercises. Notes and notation. Exercises.' 54 These are already Ferdinandov's themes. As early as 1914 S. Volkonsky had called for the use of cinema for the purpose of quasi-choreographic teaching, in conservatoires for instance, 'as the most powerful teaching instrument; it will be a mirror reflecting the way in which we should and should not move'. 55 By the 1920s cinema was already beginning to prove equal to choreographic notation. At that time the press put forward the idea of using cinema to record dance: 'It is very probable that a precise record of dance is not possible¡­. The failures that have characterised research in this field compel us to abandon the notion of developing a system to record dance and turn all our hopes to cinema.' 56

Turkin fully shared the idea of cinema as transfigured choreography and the inclination towards Ferdinandov's system. In his 1925 book The Cinema Actor this problem is given prominence:

The developed technique of montage has enriched the transmission of dance on the screen. Dance has begun to be composed of dismembered moments of movement, filmed from various distances and various angles and alternating in a proper and measured order. Its compositional element has become the movement-fragment (i.e. a fragment of cinema film on which the dancer's movement has been recorded: because dance on screen is as much the 'dance' of man in individual fragments of film as the alternation, the 'dance' of the actual fragments of film). 57
Cinema, as we shall see, was to be simultaneously an analytical record of dance and rhythmicised montage choreography. Turkin went on:
The question of dance has a special significance for contemporary cinema and, in particular, for the mastery of film acting. The search for strict artistic form in cinema is moving towards the measured construction of the actor's movement on the screen and of the rhythmic montage of the film, i.e. towards the creation from the movement on the screen of a kind of 'dance'¡­. Film drama is trying to immerse itself in the culture of dance, in rhythm, so that it actually becomes 'dance', a sort of contemporary, realistic or, if you prefer, analytical or biomechanical ballet. 58
(This is comparable to the ideas expressed in Fernand L¨¦ger's Le Ballet m¨¦canique [France, 1924].)

That is why on 8 March 1921 Kuleshov filmed a dance by the ballerina Zinaida Tarkhovskaya in the first and most important of his series of projected montage experiments. Later, in Alexander Belenson's book Cinema Today [Kino segodnya, 1925] Kuleshov quite unambiguously indicated the link between montage and choreographic notation:

Each gesture has its duration and that duration can be recorded by a sign that can be studied and reproduced. The alternation of accented and unaccented notes will create a temporal metre, which determines the metric system and the temporal character (just as in montage). 59
Thus even in 1925 the 'dance' experiment preserved the importance of a 'symbol of f faith' as the supreme expression of the link between montage and the new anthropology. Montage was now the expression of the new conception of man and derived literally from the human body, as a record of its movement, as the mechanical expression of its natural rhythm, as the embodiment of the concept of the body analytically dismembered. Montage was now induced by body rhythm, by the body's new being, in the broadest sense of the word. Man's body was the raw material for theatre. The 'body' of the world, transformed into the 'body' of the film stock, was the raw material for cinema. The analogies now were almost absolute and immutable.

The later development of cinema revealed the repetitive character of the metro-rhythmic element in montage. In Kuleshov's later analyses metro-rhythm passes into the shadows and the semantics of montage is promoted to the forefront. By 1929 Kuleshov was already concentrating exclusively on his experiments with 'creative geography' and 'created man' and further-more he traced these experiments back to Engineer Prite's Project [Proekt inzhenera Praita, 1918]. 60 Thelink with the anthropology of the 1910s was also camouflaged by Kuleshov's move closer to Constructivism. In 1922 he was one of the leading theorists of Kino-Fot, the journal headed by Alexei Gan, the theorist of Constructivism. This rapprochement was based on the machine cult. Volkonsky had already made the connection between the regularity of the movements of the human body, its automation and the machine. But in the 1920s these ideas were developed in a much more radical way. In this respect the polemic conducted by Ippolit Sokolov against the Dalcrozians was particularly characteristic:

The actor on the stage must first of all become an automaton, a mechanism, a machine¡­. Henceforth painters, doctors, artists, engineers must study the human body, not from the point of view of anatomy or physiology, but from the point of view of the study of machines. The new Taylorised man has his own new physiology. Classical man, with his Hellenic gait and gesticulation, is a beast and savage in comparison with the new Taylorised man. 61
This was a clear attack on Dalcroze-Volkonsky and their cult of antiquity. Sokolov went on to the heart of the matter: 'The training for the aesthetic gesture is the rhythmicisation of movement. The rhythmicised gesture must be constructed on psycho-physiological and technical rhythm and not on purely musical rhythm.' 62 The machine cult attempted to disavow its sources, to renounce the musical-choreographic model. Henceforth the model actor was to be understood in a purely mechanical sense. Oskar Bir set American film actors up as an ideal when he said, 'They are not actors at all but organs of movement.' 63 Cinema was once again described as an organism with, in its structure, the same constitution as the actor: 'Cinema is first of all a machine¡­. What it shows on the screen is the definitive mechanisation of life.' 64 Alexei Gan applied these ideas to the Kuleshov Workshop:
Why? Because, as an element of cinema's raw material, disorganised nature, whether static or in motion, lies on the screen and produces absolutely unnatural images. 65
As we can see, Gan's ethic repeated Volkonsky's almost word for word although it is true that he only repeated what corresponded to the mechanistic laws of nature. But the sudden move towards the declarative machine cult concealed the continuity of ideas. Kuleshov responded actively to Constructivist slogans. In an unsigned article, 'The History of the State Institute of Cinematography', published in Kino-Fot and probably written by Kuleshov, Gardin was given a 'dressing-down' for distancing himself from the 'left-wing tendency', and the orientation towards the 'mechanisation of human movements' was proclaimed. 66 The short period of rapprochement with the Constructivists played an important role in the later evaluation of Kuleshov's work and in his break with preceding tradition. But Kuleshov was too closely linked to the ideas of the new anthropology which had their roots in the 1910s. It is precisely this that doubtless explains in part the unexpected move by Kuleshov and his entire collective (Pudovkin, Barnet, Komarov and others) to Mezhrabpomfilm, the most traditional film studio in the 1920s, which preserved the best traditions of the pre-Revolutionary Russian cinema. The names of Delsarte and Dalcroze can be found in Kuleshov texts over a period of many years and this has puzzled researchers. By the end of the 1920s they were already being perceived as strange anachronisms. It is symptomatic that as late as 1924 an orthodox figure like Alexander Voznesensky, who belonged entirely to the pre-Revolutionary Russian cinema, persistently recommended the methods of Dalcroze and Delsarte as a means of achieving the maximum 'incarnation' [vzhivanie] in the character, 67 prolonging in his own way the Gardin line of film theory.

In the later Kuleshov texts (after 1929), which have until recently served as the basis for the evaluation of this film theory, montage and the anthropological ideas of the 1910s diverge, giving the impression of a strange eclecticism. The metro-rhythmic approach and the new anthropology differed in their methods of teaching the actor and of rehearsal but their direct link with the montage experiments of 1921 was lost.

Nevertheless the idea of the actor moving along axes, which was subsequently to provoke such censure, is no more than a fusion of Volkonsky's concepts on the directions of the movement of the body and Ferdinandov's inclination towards recording the movements of the actor. They make complete sense only in the context of the principle of the identity between montage and the movement of the body, of their mutual rhythmic resonance. The methodology of the training of the model actor, which was experienced in Kuleshov as a period of intensive research in the field of the 'synthetic' theory of cinema, rudimentarily preserved within itself the anthropological principle of montage.

The history of Kuleshov's theoretical research reminds us once again of the fact that for thousands of years the human body has served as a model for the universe, from the theory of macrocosm and microcosm to the physiognomic teachings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This traditional metamodel has evolved from the intact body of the Middle Ages to the dismembered corpse of the nineteenth century. The idea of montage as the specific basis of a new art, cinema, is an important link in the long history of this evolution.


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