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“Homage to Sergei Eisenstein”

The child of a bourgeois household, Sergei Eisenstein got a chance to make his own way when the Russian Revolution shut down the engineering school he had been attending at his father’s insistence. After serving in the Red Army—his father was in the White—Eisenstein joined a theater group, which led to directing his first short in 1923. By 1928, Eisenstein had made three films that extolled political insurrection while engaging in cinematic revolution: Strike, Potemkin, and October. Inspired by his brief study of Japanese ideographs (and the editing of D.W. Griffith), the director devised his theory of montage, in which opposing elements are blended into an organic whole. Presaging Eisenstein’s later problems with the Soviet authorities, these films were criticized as “formalistic.” Their bold technique is still influential, however, a result of both Eisenstein films and the theoretical writings collected in such books as Film Sense and Film Form. Today, the National Gallery marks the centenary of Eisenstein’s birth with a 2 p.m. lecture by University of Wisconsin film studies professor David Bordwell. His comments will be followed (at 3:30 p.m.) by screenings of Potemkin and October. At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)