Soviet Montage Theory — Definition, Examples and Types of Montage

What is Soviet Montage Theory?

Soviet Montage Theory is a film movement that took place in Soviet Russia during the 1910’s, 20’s and into the early 30’s. It was founded by Lev Kuleshov while he was teaching at the Moscow Film School.

According to prominent Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, there are five different types within Soviet Montage Theory: Metric, Rhythmic, Tonal, Overtonal and Intellectual.

The movement is widely known for changing the landscape of film editing around the world.

Popular Soviet Montage Films

  • Kino-Eye (1924)
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925) 
  • The Death Ray (1925)
  • Mother (1926)
  • Zvenigora (1927)
  • October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928)
  • Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
  • A Simple Case (1932)

What is montage in film?

The word ‘montage’ is rooted in the French language as a term to describe the connection of individual pieces, whether they be film, music or images, into a cohesive whole.

But to understand why montages became a major component of Soviet cinema, we have to first look at how the industry got to that point. 

The Moscow Film School or VGIK was founded in 1919 during the midst of the Russian Revolution. One of the foremost professors at the School was Lev Kuleshov, who had begun experimenting with new ways of editing film by 1920.

In 1923, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks usurped control of the Russian government. What followed was a period of radical change, both socially and economically. Consequently, at this time it was incredibly difficult to find film stock in Russia, so instead, the people were left to study film rather than create it.

Kuleshov, along with his students, explored the process of film editing rigorously. During his professorship, Kuleshov released a short film that would go on to become the foundation of Soviet Montage Theory. 

Types of Montage Film

Intellectual Montage

The idea behind Kuleshov’s short film was to combine a single, center-framed shot of the popular actor Ivan Mosjoukine with three other distinct shots: The first is a bowl of soup, the second is a girl in a coffin, and the third is a woman lying on a couch.

Kuleshov Effect

The goal behind this method was to create a montage where the combination of shots would evoke something different each time, such as hunger (soup), sadness (coffin) and desire (woman.) Kuleshov was credited with pioneering the evoking of emotion through contrasting images, therefore the technique became known as the Kuleshov effect.

The Kuleshov effect is still widely used in cinema today, as it allows a filmmaker to communicate with the audience solely through editing.

Types of Montage

Metric Montage

After Kuleshov created the intellectual montage, other types began to pop up in its wake. One such example is the Metric Montage in which a film is cut per frame.

Metric Montage Example

The Metric Montage is inspired by the pacing of a musical score, AKA the meter. This is used to create a visual pace within a film scene by cutting to the next shot after a finite number of frames no matter what is happening on screen.

Types of Montage Film

Rhythmic Montage

If the Metric Montage is used to establish a visual pace, then the Rhythmic Montage is used to keep to the pace, in both a visual and auditory sense.

Rhythmic Montage Example

This clip from Whiplash is a great example of the Rhythmic Montage because each shot keeps to the pace of the music, which ultimately creates an engrossing continuity.

Types of Montage

Tonal Montage

The Tonal Montage is the use of two or more shots that support one another and build a theme, quite to the opposite effect of the Intellectual Montage. Here’s a video essay on Parasite‘s montage; Director Bong Joon-ho crafts a scene which skillfully weaves integral themes of social inequality, deception, and infiltration.

Parasite’s Peach-Fuzz Ploy Montage

As the name implies, the Tonal Montage helps to establish the tone of a scene through editing shots together that have the same thematic aim.

Types of Montage

Overtonal Montage

The Overtonal Montage is a sort of amalgamation of the four other types of montages: Intellectual, Metric, Rhythmic and Tonal.

How Sergei Eisenstein Used Montage to Film the Unfilmable

Perhaps the most famous scene of the Soviet Montage Theory is that of the Odessa Steps in Battleship Potemkin. This scene utilizes all four types of Montage filmmaking to expert effect.

One of the most enduring images of the scene is the baby in the carriage falling down a flight of stairs, which is a great example of the Intellectual Montage as it uses the tragic circumstances to evoke an emotional response from the audience. This moment was expertly riffed on in Brian De Palma’s American crime film The Untouchables.

The Untouchables Clip

This scene is one of the best examples of the influence of Soviet Montage Theory on international cinema. Let’s look at the essential aspects inherent in a montage:

  1. Establishes pace 
  2. Keeps to the pace
  3. Evokes an emotional response
  4. Exaggerates the emotional response through supporting and contrasting images.

Sergei Eisenstein Montage Film

The Five Steps

Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, who was once a student of Lev Kuleshov, is credited with outlining Soviet Montage Theory through the five steps we’ve just gone over.

Both Eisenstein and Kuleshov used the five steps of Soviet Montage Theory through their careers, which helped them to become some of the most influential technical filmmakers of all-time.


written by Chris Heckmann

Chris Heckmann graduated from Emmanuel College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing, Editing, and Publishing. He now lives in Los Angeles where he writes about sports, film, and television.

(Visited 349 times, 2 visits today)

You Might Be Interested In

Comment (106)

  1. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  2. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating
    it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing.

    Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  3. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed
    to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out
    the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal.

    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  4. Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality used
    to be a amusement account it. Look complicated to far introduced agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we communicate?

  5. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?


  6. Terrific article! This is the type of info that should be
    shared across the web. Disgrace on Google for now not positioning this submit higher!

    Come on over and visit my site . Thanks =)

  7. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here
    and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Excellent work!

  8. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before
    but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m certainly happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  9. My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I might check things out.

    I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to
    looking at your web page yet again.

  10. I think this is among the most important information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The website style is great,
    the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  11. Right here is the perfect webpage for anybody who wants to find out about this topic.
    You understand a whole lot its almost hard to
    argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has been discussed
    for years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  12. Thank you for every other informative blog. The place else
    may just I get that kind of information written in such a
    perfect means? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now running on, and I
    have been on the look out for such information.

  13. Howdy! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does building a well-established website such as yours take a massive amount
    work? I’m brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary daily.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my experience and feelings online.

    Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips
    for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

  14. Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be at the net the easiest factor to understand of.

    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed whilst people consider concerns that they plainly do not
    realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as smartly as defined out the whole thing with
    no need side effect , folks can take a signal. Will probably
    be again to get more. Thank you

  15. Heya are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog
    world but I’m trying to get started and set
    up my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  16. We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with helpful information to work on. You’ve
    done a formidable process and our entire community will probably be grateful to you.

  17. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your website in web explorer, may check this?
    IE still is the marketplace chief and a good part of people will leave out your magnificent writing because
    of this problem.

  18. You really make it appear so easy with your presentation but I to find this topic to be actually one thing which I believe I might never understand. It seems too complicated and very wide for me. I am looking forward to your subsequent put up, I¦ll attempt to get the cling of it!

  19. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this
    board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I’m hoping to offer something again and help others like
    you helped me.

  20. Heya just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two
    different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

  21. Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and
    i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you prevent
    it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I
    get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any help
    is very much appreciated.

  22. wonderful submit, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this. You should proceed your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  23. Keep up the fantastic work , I read few content on this internet site and I believe that your site is very interesting and holds bands of fantastic information.

  24. After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.

  25. Incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is magnificent, let alone the content!

  26. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my
    4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed
    the shell to her ear and screamed. There was
    a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic
    but I had to tell someone!

  27. hello there and thank you for your info – I’ve certainly picked up anything new
    from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this site, since I experienced to reload the web site a lot of times previous to I
    could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting
    is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage
    your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look
    out for a lot more of your respective intriguing content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

  28. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt
    donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose for now
    i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  29. Awesome blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it
    from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make
    my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme.
    Thanks a lot

  30. Hello are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

  31. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the
    same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

  32. whoah this blog is great i love reading your posts. Keep up the good work! You know, a lot of people are looking around for this info, you can help them greatly.

  33. I am no longer sure where you are getting your information, however
    great topic. I must spend a while finding out more or understanding more.
    Thanks for fantastic information I used to be in search
    of this info for my mission.

  34. Greetings I am so grateful I found your web site, I really found you by error, while I was researching on Bing
    for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a marvelous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to
    browse it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the great work.

  35. Great site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high
    quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you!

    Take care!!

  36. I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s
    rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

  37. Hello there! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My website looks weird when viewing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!

  38. It’s actually a great and helpful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you shared this helpful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for

  39. Greetings! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers
    and starting a new project in a community in the same
    niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

  40. Pretty component of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact loved account your blog posts.
    Any way I will be subscribing in your feeds or even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  41. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
    My website covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we
    could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to send
    me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  42. No matter if some one searches for his required thing, thus he/she desires to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here.|

  43. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such fantastic info being shared freely out there.

  45. You need to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful websites
    online. I most certainly will recommend this web site!

  46. We stumbled over here different web page and thought I might
    as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just
    following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page for a second time.

  47. magnificent issues altogether, you simply won a new reader.
    What could you recommend about your post that you made a few days ago?

    Any positive?

  48. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and
    in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog
    posts. Any way I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement
    you access consistently fast.

  49. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues with your site.
    It appears like some of the text on your content are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them
    as well? This may be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.

  50. Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and would
    really like to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my subscribers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free
    to shoot me an e-mail.

  51. When someone writes an piece of writing he/she maintains the plan of a user in his/her brain that how
    a user can know it. Therefore that’s why this paragraph is perfect.


  52. Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m
    still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints
    for novice blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  53. I think that everything posted made a great deal of sense.
    However, think on this, suppose you were to write
    a awesome headline? I ain’t saying your information is not solid., however suppose you added a headline that makes
    people desire more? I mean Soviet Montage Theory — Definition, Examples and Types of Montage
    – FILM POETRY is a little boring. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and
    see how they create article titles to grab people to open the links.
    You might add a video or a related picture or two to get
    readers excited about what you’ve written. Just my opinion,
    it might bring your website a little livelier.


Your email address will not be published.