19 February 2008

I Want My MTV - Eisenstein and Prokofiev edition

Below are a few clips from the 1938 film Alexander Nevsky (Александр Невский). The film was directed by Sergei Eisenstein who worked closely with composer Sergei Prokofiev to create a powerful match of music and imagery that remains a standard for filmmakers today. As a result of being one of the first films to truly explore coordinated interaction between images and music, Alexander Nevsky features many moments that were some of the earliest examples of "music videos" in history.


The Battle on the Ice scene from Alexander Nevsky (above)


German Knights Attack Russian Village scene from Alexander Nevsky (above)


A Movie Lover's Guide to Film Language explores Eisenstein's use of music/sound in Alexander Nevsky (above, with commentary)

2 comments:

nards said...

Well, I, for one, appreciated this post.

here are a couple of interesting tid bits...

"Since neither [composer nor director] was keen to 'go first' and set the rhythm for a scene, there was a constant toss-up as to who should do so. Sometimes Eisenstein started, completing the montage for a sequence and running it through several times for Prokofiev in the evening. The composer demanded absolute silence throughout, as he watched with intense concentration while simultaneously beating rhythmically on the edge of the armchair. Eisenstein looked on fascinated, curious to fathom the secret of the composer's creative process. On one occasion Prokofiev exclaimed 'Marvellous!' over a montage sequence in which, as Eisenstein recalled, there was 'cleverly interwoven a counterpoint of three distinct movements of rhythm, cadence and direction: the protagonist, the group making up the background, and the column of men cutting in close-up into the view of the panning camera."

And "Where the music rises, one can discern a rising, arched line in the shot composition. Where the music repeats the same note, the shot presents a horizontal composition. Where the listener hears a fall in the music, the viewer sees a falling arch in the visuals...."

-From "Overtones and Undertones, Reading Film Music"...so i'm a nyerd. big whoop, wanna fight about it?

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