“The innovative use of montage in film by the Soviet film-makers had its roots in art forms such as painting, literature and music from pre-revolutionary Russia” (Joyce, 2003, p. 394). It largely uses the Kuleshov’s findings in the “Mozzhuhkin experiment” (also known as the Kuleshov effect) to create an objective element to film which allows the viewer to piece together information gained from quick cuts, allowing them to create their own understanding of the film. This technique was widely used amongst Russian film makers in the 1950s and the prolonged use of it through out a film was coined the “Soviet Montage”. However, in the space of around 30 years, Russian film maker “Andrei Tarkovsky changed what cinema as an artform could achieve” (James, 2015) with his use of “The long Take” which was referred to as the ultimate rejection of the soviet montage’s “technique of manipulation. The long take reinjected a sense of reality with an uninterrupted flow that doesn’t ‘collide’ like in the montage.
In 2002, Russian film maker, Alexander Sokurov released his awarding winning film Russian Ark (2002) which is dubbed to be the first full length feature film shot in one take. The fundamentals of the production of Russian Ark rejects the classic Soviet Montage even more so than Tarkovsky ever did and Sokurov stated that “his aesthetics weren’t a discovery for me, rather it was a conformation of my own vision” (Sokurov, 2015, p. 1).
In this clip we can see that Sokurov’s attention to detail with the costumes and artwork here shows he had a real passion for authenticity when it came to re-creating Russian history. This suggests that even though he wishes to reject the stylistic approach of historic Soviet film-making, he wishes to honour soviet history though the way he deems is most respectful and authentic; one continuous take that allows the audience to properly admire it without any cuts that cause a break in their immersion. “Sokurov does not so much salute the new emerging Russia and celevrate its glorious past that he sadly enshrines and mourns the latter as irretrievable” (Szaniawski, 2014, p. 179)
In conclusion we can see that although Sokurov rejects the idea of the Soviet Montage and cooperates with the ideas set by the Tarkovsky legacy. He chooses to use modern techniques to look back Soviet history, suggesting that maybe he is disengaged and unhappy with the route in which Russian life and Russian film is taking and wishes to relive the past through techniques he feels are more fulfilling and justified, using the long take which is free of ‘collisions’ to create a harmonic atmosphere which we see throughout Russian Ark.
James, N. (2015). The Tarkovsky legacy | Deep focus | Sight & Sound. Retrieved 4 March 2020, from https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/features/deep-focus/tarkovsky-legacy
Joyce, M. (2003). The Soviet montage cinema of the 1920s. An Introduction to Film Studies, 329-364.
Szaniawski, J. (2014). The cinema of Alexander Sokurov: Figures of paradox. Columbia University Press.