Film School: Five Methods of Montage

'Psycho' (1960) 'Psycho' (1960)

Modern examples of Eisenstein’s “Methods”, or the Soviet Theory of Montage.

If you haven’t heard of pioneering filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, his Five Methods, or the Soviet Theory of Montage, One Hundred Years of Cinema highlights examples of all five, both in Eisenstein’s film The Battleship Potemkin, as well as with examples from modern American cinema:

Filmmaker IQ’s more detailed look, which he precedes by providing more historical context, starts at 9:22:

1. Metric

A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it example is the “Viva Las Vegas” montage from director Guy Ritchie‘s Snatch (2000), which compresses a big night of gambling into a handful of still images, each of which flashes across the screen for equally measured (metric) length of time:

2. Rhythmic

The “rhythm” referred to here is of the action within the shot. In this example, the rhythm of chef Gordon Ramsay chopping an onion determines when the cuts to the film are made:

This one is both metric, and rhythmic: another example from Guy Ritchie, this time from RocknRolla (2008): a sex scene (with no actual sex in it) cut to the tempo of the track which fades up immediately afterward:

3. Tonal

The finale of Martin Scorsese‘s The Age of Innocence (1993) employs shot / reverse shot, but between a person and his memory of the love of his life, and uses tonal qualities of sunlight to transition between time and place:

4. Overtonal

In Psycho (1960), director Alfred Hitchcock manages to “show” a most violent, gruesome murder – and yet not a single frame in the shower scene contains any actual violence:

5. Intellectual

… actually, the sequence above ends with an intellectual cut (or dissolve): from the shot of Marion Crane’s blood running down the drain, to the pupil of Marion Crane’s eye – the life “drained” from her, as Fandor notes:

But perhaps the most often-cited example of the intellectual cut, is the “bone to space station” cut in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This re-cut by Ryan Hrovat “corrects” the decidedly non-matching cut in Kubrick’s original:

Further Viewing

More on the match cut, both its features and functions, courtesy of StudioBinder: