Monday, 25 November 2013


Lev Kuleshov (1899 - 1970) Soviet filmmaker

The meaning of a shot or frame is dependent on context, its juxtaposition with adjacent, proximate and overlaid frames. Lev Kuleshov experimented with found footage by placing a still of Ivan Muzzhukhin successively next to a bowl of soup, a woman on a chaise and a woman in a coffin. The frame of Ivan Muzzhukhin is the same in each case but the meaning inferred by us, the viewers, radically changes.

'During this time I created a montage experiment which became known abroad as the 'Kuleshov Effect'. I alternated the same shot of Mozzhukhin [a Tsarist matinee idol] with various other shots (a plate of soup, a girl, a child's coffin), and these shots acquired a different meaning. The discovery stunned me - so convinced was I of the enormous power of montage. (Kuleshov "Kuleshov on Film" 200)' *

'the necessity to consider montage as the basic means of cinema art, the specific and fundamental quality of the medium.... The cinema consists of fragments and the assembly of those fragments, of the assembly of elements which in reality are distinct. (Kuleshov, "The Origins of Montage" 71)' *

'It is therefore not the content of those images which is important, but their combination with each other. The raw materials of such an art work are not original, but are pre-fabricated elements which can be deconstructed and re-assembled by the artist into new juxtapositions. As Kuleshov put it,

with montage it becomes possible both to break down and to reconstruct, and ultimately to remake the material. (Kuleshov, "Kuleshov on Film" 52)' *

* Lev Kuleshov quotes from: 

Kuleshov experiment:

Kuleshov effect and political stage management:

Stanly Kubrick and the Kuleshov Effect:

Alfred Hitchcock explaining the Kuleshov Effect:

Article on 'By the Law' direcrected by Lev Kuleshov:

Kuleshov, Lev. Kuleshov on Film: Writings by Lev Kuleshov. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

Kuleshov, Lev. "The Origins of Montage", Cinema in Revolution: The Heroic Era of the Soviet Film (eds. Luda and Jean Schnitzer and Marcel Martin), London: Secker & Warburg, 1966.