Inicio > Psicología marxista, Teoría crítica acumulada > “Eisenstein/ Vygotsky /Luria’s project: Cinematic Thinking and the Integrative Science of Mind and Brain”: Julia Vassilieva

“Eisenstein/ Vygotsky /Luria’s project: Cinematic Thinking and the Integrative Science of Mind and Brain”: Julia Vassilieva


When Sergei Eisenstein died on the 11th of February 1948, a post-mortem examination was conducted to establish the cause of death. His body was subjected to a dissection and his brain was exposed, measured and photographed. The photographs of Eisenstein’s brain were kept by his friend of thirty years, neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, who would show them to his students to illustrate the asymmetry of the brain’s hemispheres. Eisenstein’s brain featured a dramatically enlarged right hemisphere, which is responsible for visual images and spatial information processing, while his left hemisphere was of a normal size.[1] This striking image provides an apt illustration for one of the most challenging and enduring intellectual projects at the intersection of film theory, psychology and philosophy: that of trying to understand how mind, brain and cinema interact. It was also a postscript to Eisenstein and Luria’s scientific collaboration, which at various stages included the linguist Alexander Marr and cultural psychologist Lev Vygotsky. The research program they carried out, from the mid-1920s until Eisenstein’s death, aimed to combine neuroscience, social sciences, and cinema theory to address the neural basis and semiotics of screen aesthetics.

This collaboration reveals and confirms Eisenstein’s status as a theoretician with broad interdisciplinary interests, as has been increasingly acknowledged in the scholarly literature.[2] As Francesco Casetti notes: “In Eisenstein we find a constant urge to operate in the interstices of different sciences, between linguistics and anthropology, between psychology and aesthetics, between the history of art and biology.”[3] While some aspects of Eisenstein’s theoretical activity – such as his engagement with linguistics and anthropology [4] – have been explored more extensively, his extensive engagement with the emerging discipline of psychology in the first half of the 20th century remains underestimated.

Yet, in the context of current debates in film theory, this aspect of Eisenstein’s work demands a renewed attention. Beginning in the 1990s Eisenstein’s theoretical work started to be linked with two broad and sometimes contradictory frameworks in film scholarships tied to the two opposing perspectives in psychology – cognitivism (exemplified by David Bordwell’s approach[5] ) and studies of affect (represented perhaps most prominently by Vivian Sobchack’s research[6] ). Such appropriation reflects the development of the film studies discipline with its growing compartmentalisation while obscuring the holistic impulse of Eisenstein’s theorising. It is crucial therefore to restore Eisenstein’s original, more inclusive approach in the understanding of human psyche, especially in the light of recent interest in film studies in neuroscience.[7] While some research work has been done in this direction – for example PiaTikka’s recent study Simulatorium Eisensteinense[8] – it remains limited by the fact that it is based only on Eisenstein’s works already translated into English, without acknowledging the recent wave of publication of Eisenstein’s texts in Russian, which include, among others, his magnum opus Method, that substantially expands the received understanding of Eisenstein.

This article suggests that Eisenstein’s engagement with psychology can be most productively unpacked by acknowledging his lifelong collaboration with two Russian psychologists, Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) and Alexander Luria (1902-1977), both of whom were among the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, and both of whom were among those few whose influence is likely to endure well into the 21st. Vygotsky’s legacy is associated primarily with his cultural-historical theory. This theory provided a powerful paradigm with which to address the emergence and development of thought, language and consciousness as culturally and historically specific phenomena. His collaborator Luria was instrumental in creating the field of neuropsychology, or cognitive neuroscience, by extending the cultural-historical theory to address the mechanics of the brain. This all but unexplored collaboration between Eisenstein, Vygotsky and Luria is not only highly pertinent to the problematics of cinematic thinking, but deserves renewed attention in the current context of more general debates in cinema theory, which, it can be argued, are encumbered by three main factors: the digital revolution, the shift beyond postmodernism, and the so-called ‘crisis’ in current film theory.

Eisenstein’s First Encounters With Psychology: Between Psychoanalysis and Reflex System Theory

As was the case with many modernist artists of the beginning of the 20th century, Eisenstein’s first encounter with psychology was through psychoanalysis. Eisenstein came across Freud’s essay Leonardo da Vinci and A Memory of His Childhood in 1918 and was absolutely stunned. He described his reaction as astonishment followed by enlightenment. In the following years, Eisenstein read widely on psychoanalysis, including Freud, Jung, and Wilhelm Reich. He also read the work of Otto Rank and Hanns Sachs, two editors of the journal Imago, which published many articles on psychoanalysis and art that especially interested Eisenstein.

Psychoanalysis was instrumental in Eisenstein’s early attempts to understand the nature of psychological engagement with art, and later psychoanalysis also influenced Eisenstein’s understanding of the mind’s organisation. However, while in the classical structural psychoanalytic model the psyche is divided into three levels – conscious, unconscious and pre-conscious operation, Eisenstein posited two levels: the level of logical thought and the level of pre-logical thought or sensuous thinking. He also supported the repressive hypothesis and acknowledged the importance of some defence mechanisms, as well as oedipal dynamics. While engagement with psychoanalysis was rather typical for modernist artists, Eisenstein had much broader psychological interests. He also followed Gestalt psychology and went on to establish personal contacts with some of the leading representatives of the school.

The operational principle of Gestalt psychology is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analogue, with self-organising tendencies. Hence, Gestalt theory aims to understand “wholes, the behaviour of which is not determined by that of their individual elements, but where the part-processes are themselves determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole”.[9] Early Gestalt theorists exerted  significant influence not only on Eisenstein, but also on the evolution of 20th century psychology and particularly what was to become the ecological approach to perception. The German Gestalt psychologists’ interest in the field dynamics of the mind and the assumption of an isomorphism between mental and physiological functions has been recognised again in the later cybernetic line of thinking.[10] A number of Gestalt psychological ideas resonated throughout Eisenstein’s later output, with his holistic notions – wholeness, closedness, fullness, symmetry – showing similarity with Gestalt terminology.[11]

While Eisenstein’s international research contacts demonstrate how thoroughly he was embedded in the many streams of psychological science across Europe, it was ultimately Eisenstein’s connections with Russian psychology that provided a defining influence on his theorisation of psyche and unique take on the connection between film and brain work.

In the scholarship on Eisenstein it is often repeated – rather uncritically – that it was Ivan Pavlov’s research on temperament, conditioning, and involuntary reflex actions that shaped Eisenstein’s understanding of subjectivity and aesthetic reaction. Such assessment reflects the status of Pavlov in Russian psychology more than it does the importance of Pavlov’s perspective in Eisenstein’s theorising. Honoured in 1904 with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, Pavlov dominated early Soviet psychology, particularly after 1940, when Pavlovian psychology became the school endorsed by the Communist Party. Pavlov’s ideas were also the first to be brought to the screen in a documentary fashion: when Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex was published in the late 1920s, Vsevolod Pudovkin documented Pavlov’s research in his first state-commissioned film The Mechanics of the Brain (1925).

Some of Eisenstein’s own statements further fuelled a direct interpretation of the connection between reflex system theory and early montage theory. In ‘How I Became a Film Director’, Eisenstein wrote, “Had I been more familiar with Ivan Pavlov’s teaching, I would have called the ‘theory of montage of attractions’ the ‘theory of artistic stimulants.’”[12] However, David Bordwell observes that Eisenstein draws more extensively from the theory of reflexes proposed by the neuropathologist and physiologist Vladimir M. Bekhterev (1857–1927), who emphasised more generally that the physiological laws of acquired and innate reflexes extended from the animal world to all human activities and social processes.[13] Naum Kleiman further notes that Eisenstein’s unpublished notes on Bekhterev’s work state that “art must change the conditioned reflexes that are provoked by the social context and, in particular, the audience must be diverted from the reflex reactions of servility and terror.”[14] What is important to stress is that Eisenstein’s interest in reflex theory – whether Pavlov’s or Bekhterev’s – accounted for only a short period in the evolution of his psychological views. These views did not follow the agenda of official Soviet psychology but were driven by his unique research line that led him to focus increasingly on the juncture between the work of mind and brain on the one hand and language and other symbolic systems on the other. From the mid-1920s Eisenstein began to follow the cultural-historical theory developed by Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria.

Lev Vygotsky’s Cultural-Historical Theory

Eisenstein first started to discuss psychological problems of the “theory and psychology of expressiveness” with Luria and Vygotsky in 1925 or toward the beginning of 1926. In the early 1930s, Eisenstein, Marr, Vygotsky and Luria formed a research seminar to systematically analyse the “problems of the nascent language of cinematography”.[15] While the untimely death of Vygotsky (in June, 1934) and Marr (in December, 1934) put an end to this four-way collaboration, regular meetings and discussions between Eisenstein and Luria continued until Eisenstein’s death in February 1948. The topics addressed in the seminar (as the author’s research in Luria’s archive demonstrates) ranged from the analysis of the historical processes through film to the basic structures of consciousness and the dynamics of personality. This joint research project was instrumental in Eisenstein’s theoretical work, from Film Form and Film Sense of 1920s and 1930s through Montage (1937), to Non Indifferent Nature (1945 -1947), and Method (1932-1948), his magnum opus, published in Russian in 2002 and still not translated into English.

Vygotsky began his research by examining the structural organisation of a work of art and the psychological effect it produces in the recipient. Psychology of Art, Vygotsky’s PhD thesis, written and defended in 1925, was a result of research conducted between 1910 and 1922. This study became a  quintessential manifestation of Vygotsky’s life-long concern with the specifically human aspect of behaviour and cognition: “Psychology in its attempts to explain the whole of [human] behaviour cannot but be attracted by the difficult problems posed by aesthetic reaction”.[16] The understanding of the work of art from which this proceeded initially followed the Russian formalists, and particularly the distinction between fabula and sjuzhet, which Vygotsky further conceptualised as an “overcoming of material by the form”.[17] However, the analysis of structure in the work of art was only the first step for Vygotsky. As Smagorinsky notes, “He looks instead to those structural aspects of a creation from which arise a sense of profundity and new planes of emotional experience in those who transact with its substance. He sees form as a central property organically related to its meaning potential”.[18] Vygotsky’s ultimate aim was the analysis of the psychological effect produced by the work of art, guided by his general perception that “art is the social technique of feelings”.[19]

Psychology of Art was not published in Russian until 1956, and not translated into English until 1971. However, Vygotsky gave a typed copy to Eisenstein, who read it with the utmost attention – as attested by the dense marginal notes that cover the copy preserved in Eisenstein’s museum in Moscow, Kabinett. It can be argued that the principle of ‘art as a social technique of feelings’ can be traced in Eisenstein’s three modes of aesthetic reaction. From his early notion of ‘montage of attractions’ through his ideas of ‘intellectual montage’ to the more organic model of ‘pathos’ elaborated at a later stage, Eisenstein strived to organise and control viewer’s responses in order to optimally produce aesthetic effects from the experience. The three different principles of art’s effectiveness were posited by Eisenstein as operating simultaneously at the level of structural organisation of the work of art, and in terms of their emotional and broader intellectual and psychological effect on the spectator. Art was thus understood by both Vygotsky and Eisenstein as a mediator, a culturally elaborated tool to produce, regulate and transform complex emotional reactions – reactions which always encompass affective and intellectual dimensions: as Vygotsky states, “The emotions caused by art are intelligent emotions”.[20] In this formula the main thrust of Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory can already be discerned: his understanding of semiotic systems as mediators transforming lower natural psychological functions into higher, specifically human, processes and positioning the specifically human functioning within a cultural context.

The essence of Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory can be subsumed under the idea that, with the emergence of socio-cultural activity, the very nature of psychological functioning and development changes. Vygotsky understands culture in a broad sense – as the accumulated result of the experience of human kind in exploring, appropriating and making its world meaningful. These accumulated experiences and knowledge  become embodied in cultural tools. The following list supplied by Vygotsky in his 1931 essay ‘The Instrumental Method in Psychology’ provides a good illustration:

The following can serve as examples of psychological tools and their complex systems: language; various systems for counting; mnemonic techniques; algebraic symbol systems; works of art; writing; schemes, diagrams, maps, and mechanical drawings; all sorts of conventional signs; and so on.[21]

Moreover, tools are not limited to signs and sign systems, and their nature is not reducible to their material. Rather, as Vygotsky maintains, tools should be understood as embodied practices. By appropriating cultural tools, man changes himself and the world around him, leaving a cultural legacy that is transferred to the next generation. Vygotsky’s ideas about cultural mediation thus reveal his radical constructivism, the legacy that was developed by social constructivism and semiotics later in the 20th century.

These ideas were reiterated by, among other scholars, Juri Lotman, the founder of an important Russian semiotic school, in his late monograph Universe of the Mind. Similarly to Vygotsky, Lotman considered semiotic systems as models that explain the world in which we live, and argued that in explaining the world, these systems also construct it. Following Vygotsky’s lead, Lotman thought of language as the primary modelling system by means of which we construe the world. Myth, cultural rules, religion, the language of art, and science, represent secondary modelling systems.  They lead us to understand and construct the world in a particular way, and provide the means of expression of this understanding. This is what is subsumed in Lotman’s idea of ‘Universe of the Mind’:

The individual human intellect does not have a monopoly in the work of thinking. Semiotic systems, both separately and together as the integrated unity of the semiosphere, both synchronically and in all the depths of historical memory, carry out intellectual operations, preserve, and work to increase the store of information. Thought is within us, but we are within thought just as language is something engendered by our minds and directly dependent on the mechanisms of the brain, and we are with language.[22]

From Cultural-Historical Theory to Neuropsychology

In 1925 Vygotsky started collaborating with Luria in the Clinic of Nervous Diseases of Moscow University, which today is a part of I.M. Sechenov Medical University of Moscow. Together they laid the foundations for the science of neuropsychology that “studies functional structure and brain organisation of higher mental functions.”[23] In 1922 Luria wrote his first major monograph Principles of a Real Psychology, which outlined a model of synthetic, all-embracing psychology.[24] One of the principles stated by Luria urged psychologists to study an individual human mind as a whole and particular mental phenomena as functions, or elements, of this whole. Their development depends on a concrete human personality, with the possibility of change through the transformation of social conditions. Consequently, Vygotsky and Luria developed a social-historical approach in neuropsychology that posits that cognitive processes descend from the complex interaction and interdependence of biological factors (individual mind) that are part of physical nature, and cultural factors that appeared in the course of human evolution.[25] This approach, which can be characterised as an integrative science of mind and brain, locates the origins of human conscience and mental activity neither inside the brain nor in the mechanisms of nervous processes but in human social life and the semiotic realm. Underpinning this model was Vygotsky’s principle of cultural mediation, which stresses that the “species-specific characteristic of humans is to live in the medium of culture, the residue of past human activity preserved in artefacts /tools /stimuli, broadly conceived”.[26]

These ideas were further developed in Luria’s first major monograph in English, The Nature of Human Conflicts, published in the United Sates in 1932.[27] Drawing on Vygotsky’s ideas, Luria postulated a systemic structure of higher mental functions. Luria wrote

We are indebted to Vygotsky for his detailed substantiation of the thesis that higher mental functions may exist only as a result of interaction between the highly differentiated brain structures and that each of these structures makes its own specific contribution to the dynamic whole and plays its specific part in the functional system.[28]

The understanding of the systemic structure of higher mental functions made possible the formulation of the idea of the dynamic organisation of the brain and addressed the issue of localisation. As Rene van der Veer notes, “This view implies that it is impossible to localise a mental function in some specific brain centre and that the relationship between specific mental functions is never fixed”.[29] This view corresponds with the currently widely discussed principle of brain plasticity.

As such, Vygotsky-Luria’s intellectual collaboration anticipated a new way of thinking about the mind that emerged at the turn of the 21st century through the work of Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett, Francisco Varela and Michael Gazzaniga. This paradigm emphasises the ways in which mental processes are embodied (partly made up of extra-neural bodily structures and processes), embedded (designed to function in tandem with the environment), enacted (constituted in part by action), and extended (through the use of cultural tools and semiotic mediation).

Furthermore, the emerging integrative science of the mind and brain was encompassed by what Cole describes as the principle of systemic holism.[30] This overriding methodological assumption was formulated and expressed by Luria and Vygotsky in a range of powerful formulations. Luria argued that, “The structure of the organism presupposes not an accidental mosaic, but a complex organisation of separate systems … they unite as very definitive parts into an integrated functional structure.”[31] Closely corresponding to this is Vygotsky’s imperative of monistic integration: “the detection of the significant connections between the parts and the whole, the ability to view the mental processes as an organic connection of a more complex integral process – this is dialectical psychology’s basic task.”[32] This imperative led them to search for a major overarching principle and a realisation of this principle in a specific method that would be applicable to a multitude of psychological phenomena.

Method and Grundproblem

The period between 1925 and 1932 was extraordinarily rich in ideas, which crystallised in Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory and Luria’s neuropsychology. This was also the period germane to Eisenstein’s ideas for his massive study Method that dominated his theoretical research from the beginning of 1930s until his death in 1948. It can be shown that in Method ideas formulated within the cultural-historical paradigm found an original and extensive development. Eisenstein’s titling of his research program as Method can be seen as inspired by the earlier attempts of Luria and Vygotsky to create a synthetic all-encompassing science of human mind and brain and to develop a historical method to achieve this. Furthermore, the systemic holism articulated by Vygotsky and Luria finds a key correlate in Eisenstein’s ideas about unity, which he considers the cornerstone of his theoretical system. Both cultural-historical theory and Eisenstein’s late aesthetics emphasise unity between mind, brain and the semiotic sphere. Besides radical holism, Vygotsky and Luria’s cultural-historical theory and Eisenstein’s theoretical work shared an interest in the mediated character of psychological processes and a general assumption of their historical character.

The overriding goal of Method was to formulate the major laws of art that would be applicable to art criticism and analysis and be used by artists as tools in producing maximally effective works of art. Unlike his earlier preoccupation with montage, which is often and legitimately aligned with structural analysis, in Method one can distinguish the seeds of post-structuralism, sown by Eisenstein well ahead of its time. The distinct feature of the approach adopted in Method is a consistent and determinate historicism, with equal attention given to the synchronic and the diachronic dimensions of reality. At the core of the elaboration of Method Eisenstein positioned what he called Grundproblem, the German term he used to define the central problem of art. Eisenstein construed this as arising from the paradoxical coexistence of two dimensions in the work of art: logical and sensuous, cognitive and emotional, rational and irrational, conscious and unconscious.

Eisenstein suggested that the ‘laws’ regulating psychological operation in various evolutionary stages were crystallised in brain structures and mechanisms that remain present on higher stages of development, such that the human mind operates on several evolutionary levels simultaneously. Eisenstein further hypothesised that, in general, a work of art is congruent with properties of the world and of human consciousness: “The basic structure of consciousness is exactly the same in its organisation as my formula of two indissolubly united parts as a foundation for the dialectical organisation of image”,[33] Two layers – the layer of logical thought and the layer of sensuous thinking – underpin both the organisation of consciousness and the structures of works of art. As Eisenstein insists, these layers, or modes of operation, are indissolubly linked and their simultaneous work is crucial for consciousness encountering works of art. Such an understanding echoes the idea regarding ‘intelligent’ emotions expressed by Vygotsky, who similarly argued that aesthetic experience combines heightened emotional response and rational insight. Moreover, for Eisenstein, art is effective because the laws of form are determined by the laws of sensuous thinking based on earlier forms of human psychological functioning, which he variously defines as archaic, pre-logical or magical.

This central tenet of Eisenstein’s Grundproblem corresponds directly to Luria-Vygotsky’s idea, expressed in their cultural historical neuropsychology, that the phylogenetic history of the organisation of behaviour is reflected in the structure of the brain. While Vygotsky wrote “the brain preserves in itself in a spatial form the documented temporal sequence of development of behaviour”[34] and “the development of the brain proceeds according to laws of stratification and superstructure of new stories over the old”,[35] Luria proposes that the new structures are built on top of the old ones while preserving the principal relatedness, the same working style, a “common factor”.[36]

The analysis of Grundproblem became, for Eisenstein, an exploration of historical forms of cognitive and emotional operations. In uncovering the evolutionary sources of such operations, Eisenstein returned to the psychological evolution of Homo sapiens as a species and the biological evolution of life as such. Following this scheme, in Method he analysed various “ways of regress” and “shifts in time”, which included inner speech, “magical thinking”, “Mutterliebs Versenkung” (the urge to return to the womb), and androgynies, as well as the rhythmic organisation of biological processes and the protoplasmic state.[37]

Eisenstein’s conceptualisations of art forms and their mechanisms in Method articulated an original evolutionary anthropological perspective. His analysis typically starts with an art form and then goes through one of the stages of psycho-sexual development, following the psychoanalytic model, and ends up in a broader evolutionary context, linking individual with social, human with animal and organic with inorganic; for example, circle – womb – absence of class divisions – cosmos.

This particular sequence was explored in depth in the second volume of Method and related to a number of phenomena in art: Eisenstein found them in scenes in Dostoevsky’s and Tolstoy’s prose, in images from Dürer and Leonardo, in the rituals and dance routines of Balinese people, in theatrical sets of Chinese director May Lai Fan, and multiple other examples that are either based compositionally on the shape of a circle or have a circular temporal organisation. Eisenstein initially theorised these via the notion of “Mutterliebs Versenkung” (for which he used the acronym MLB), one of the pivotal notions of psychoanalysis that he had borrowed from Otto Rank but later re-conceptualised in his idiosyncratic way. While Rank conceptualised an urge to return into the womb within the psycho-sexual model of individual development as a response to the trauma of birth, Eisenstein re-thought MLB along the lines of historical and social development of the human kind.  In his notes on the topic from 22/IX/1947 (which have remained unpublished even after four essays were compiled into a chapter under the same title in the Russian edition of Method) Eisenstein wrote – with the comment  “This is enormously important!” – “In the MLB problematics the social aspect is extremely important. MLB is simultaneously an urge to return into the ‘womb’ and an urge to return into the commune of the primitive state…. MLB is a sensually embodied image of the classless stage of the society”.[38] But just a few months earlier he had also written (with a similar excited exclamation “Very Very Very Important!!!”): “MLB versenkung urge is a repetition of an earlier general law of physics – that of pendulum, action=contr-action, or stretched elastic universally coming back to its initial state.”[39] Eisenstein further commented :

This can be read in two ways: as a qualitatively incremental repetition of basic laws of physics (and mechanics)  – on level after level. And as a result of the influence of “general” laws in specific areas. I am in favour of the first reading, since it itself contains the idea about the same pendulum returning to the earlier stages while we, developing progressively, move step by step further and further forward.[40]

It was in the context of such ideas that Eisenstein proceeded to formulate his law of emotional expressivity. In accordance with his orientation towards a unity of psychological processes and mental functions on a broader scale, encompassing primarily the relationship between rational logical thought and the emotional and affective domain, the law was defined by Eisenstein through his notion of sensuous thought. Eisenstein insisted that art is effective precisely because it allows us to express and experience ‘logical thesis’ through emotional affective analogue:

… we translate each logical thesis into the language of sensuous speech, sensuous thought and as a result we get an enhanced sensuous effect.

And further – you can take for granted that the source of the language of the form is represented by the whole trove of pre-logical sensuous thought and there is not a single manifestation of form in art which would not grow from this source -which would not be determined by it entirely.

It is a fact, it is a necessity.[41]

Conversely, however, the engagement of the emotional sphere is effective for Eisenstein only if it is encompassed by the rational. Eisenstein placed equal emphasis on the logical component that ‘sublates’ the emotional one in an overall effect of the work of art. Art thus combines the conveying of logical content (theme and message) with the use of sensuous thought in the organisation of form. Considered within the context of the cultural-historical theory of Vygotsky and Luria, which also addressed the neuropsychological mechanisms of the work of the mind and functionality of the brain, the way Eisenstein addressed Grundproblem seemed to correspond to the cutting edge models in neuroaethetics.[42] Such models foreground three aspects of aesthetic experience: fascination with an aesthetic object (high arousal and attention) leading to the strong feeling of unity with the art object; intense cognitive engagement with the work of art through appraisal of narrative and symbolic structures and a strong emotional response underpinned by the analysis of perceptual associations and the detection of compositional regularities.

Moreover, considered alongside each other, Luria-Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory and Eisenstein’s Method seem to extend the paradigm of four Es in neuroscience (that posits mind and brain as embodied, embedded, enacted and extended) towards the realm of aesthetic, and specifically, cinematic experience. Thought and emotions are complexly interrelated in the aesthetic experience, moreover their joint work takes the form of a material experience which is embedded – i.e. relates to the context of a particular socio-historical environment. Furthermore, in Method Eisenstein argues that the act of engagement with the work of art represents an embodied experience – it relies on extra-neural structures and processes represented by complex organic reactions that Eisenstein explored under the umbrella concepts of “shifts in time” and “ways of regress”. Method also emphasises the enacted character of aesthetic experience – from complex bodily reactions to intricate involuntary movements, Eisenstein consistently explores the role of concrete material actions in the temporal unfolding of aesthetic reaction. But, perhaps most importantly, Method foregrounds the extended character of aesthetic reaction – its reliance on the mediating role of cultural tools and semiotic systems.  The latter becomes particularly clear in Eisenstein’s treatment of inner speech.

Inner Speech and Cinematic Thinking

In 1927 an influential Russian literary scholar, the formalist Boris Eikhenbaum, used the notion of inner speech in relation to cinema and characterised it as fragmentary, flowing and indefinite.[43] Eikhenbaum’s idea paved the way for a later appropriation of the concept of inner speech by Eisenstein. However, it was Vygotsky’s research on inner speech that was ultimately instrumental in Eisenstein’s mobilisation of the concept. Vygotsky developed the notion of inner speech in the monograph for which he is best known in the West, Thought and Language, published in Russian in 1932 and translated into English in 1956, which has become a classic foundational work of cognitive science, neurolinguistics and educational psychology. Thought and Language explored how thought, language, speech and word meaning are not only connected but come into existence through each other: “Word meaning is a phenomenon of thought only in so far as thought is embodied in speech, and of speech only in so far as speech is connected with thought and illumined by it. It is a phenomenon of verbal thought, or meaningful speech – a union of word and thought”.[44]

From there Vygotsky proceeded to outline the nature and functions of inner speech, which he posited as an intermediate connecting level between thought and speech. Through the notion of inner speech Vygotsky refers to the junction at which thinking is transformed into the linguistic, and language into thought. This process relies on the fact that inner speech operates with pure meanings. As Luria explains, “What is primarily represented in inner speech is the predicative part of the future utterance (the rheme). The predicative character of inner speech is the basis for the conversion of the initial thought into an expanded, syntagmatically structured, speech utterance”.[45]

The relationship between thought and language that Vygotsky proposed reveals the overriding constructivist orientation of the cultural-historical theory, i.e. an assumption that knowledge arises through a process of active construction where the knower and the known are interactive and inseparable.

The relation of thought to word is not a thing but a process, a continual movement backward and forth from thought to word and from word to thought. In that process, the relation of thought to word undergoes changes that themselves may be regarded as developmental in the functional sense. Thought is not merely expressed in words; it comes into existence through them. Every thought tends to connect something with something else, to establish a relation between things. Every thought moves, grows and develops, fulfils a function, solves a problem.[46]

Thinking for Vygotsky can only be accomplished with the use of language as a symbolic and mediating system in which words and their meaning allow us to give birth to thought – not in the sense of articulating something that had existed before its linguistic rendering, but in the sense of allowing the very emergence of thought. Similarly, when Vygotsky describes the work of art in terms of a social technique of feelings, he foregrounds its constructed nature. It can be argued that this constructivist impulse is what most fundamentally unites Vygotsky’s cultural historical theory and Eisenstein’s approach to cinema. While it is generally recognised that Eisenstein developed a formalist approach in film theory that insists that film should not reflect reality but create its own world, it can be further argued that Eisenstein also assumed that film creates the very condition of possibility for the emergence of thought that construes this world.

The idea that, for Eisenstein, thought, subjectivity and the language of cinema operate in an interconnected manner has been approached from a number of theoretical perspectives. From a structuralist position, both Viacheslav Ivanov and Juri Lotman, the leaders of the influential Tartu – Moscow semiotic school, defined Eisenstein’s theory of montage as a system of production of meaning. From a poststructuralist perspective, Gilles Deleuze positions the technique of montage as critical for the creation of the movement-image,[47] which broaches the perceptul and cognitive realms, while Franceso Casetti proposed a “hermeneutic of montage”.[48]

It can be argued more specifically, however, that from Eisenstein’s early ideas about the montage of attractions, through his notion of intellectual montage to his later adoption of inner monologue as a structuring principle, he positions cinema as a means of organising thought and as a tool engendering thinking. While ‘attractions’ refer to any element of a film that produces a psychological effect, Eisenstein insisted that the aim of montage is to arrange those attractions in such a way as to produce new meaning. The principle of the montage of attractions was further developed by Eisenstein in his formulation of the dialectical approach to montage. Drawing on Engels’ and Lenin’s ‘dynamic comprehension of things’ Eisenstein suggested that the process of engagement with the work of art passes from perception, to emotion, and then to cognition. The key to such a dialectical approach in cinema is to infuse every level of a film with conflict – within a shot, between shots and between content and form. Eisenstein insists that, “While the conventional film directs the emotions, this suggests an opportunity to encourage and direct the whole thought process, as well.”[49]

Eisenstein’s understanding of cinema as an instrument of thought found its clearest expression in the notion of intellectual montage, where he endeavoured to model abstract conceptual thinking. Eisenstein explores the idea of creating an ‘intellectual cinema’ in essays which were composed in 1929: Beyond the Shot, The Dramaturgy of Film Form, and The Fourth Dimension in Cinema and also in his notes for his never realized project to film “Das Kapital”. The central idea in these works is to mobilize cinema to tackle the domain of abstract theoretical thought. Eisenstein worked passionately, at this stage, to demonstrate how a series of images can be combined to produce abstract notions which cannot be directly represented – such concepts as capital and value, as well as abstract processes of transformation of quantity into a new quality. This is a kernel of intellectual montage, which Annette Michelson describes as Eisenstein’s efforts to pose montage as a privileged mode of analytic investigation.[50]

Some scholars suggest that, as the ideas of intellectual montage didn’t lead to a radical transformation of cinema that Eisenstein envisaged, this line of Eisenstein’s theorising halted to the ground by the end of the 1930s. Alternatively, it can be proposed that this impulse towards cinematic thinking continued to encompass Eisenstein’s theory and practice at later stages. When, after 1935 the principle of inner monologue became central in Eisenstein’s work, he positioned it as an intermediate mechanism that allows thought to be transformed from its pre-verbal origin into rational expression and, as such, to be born. Modelling the language of cinema on the mechanism of inner speech, Eisenstein foregrounds film as an instrument of thought. In Film Form: New Problems, Eisenstein writes:

We know that at the basis of the creation of form lie sensual and imagist thought processes. Inner speech is precisely at the stage of image-sensual structure, not yet having attained that logical formulation with which speech clothes itself before stepping out into the open.[51] >

Like Vygotsky’s inner speech, Eisensteinian inner monologue is fundamentally ‘thinking with pure meanings’, where meaning refers to the internal structure of the sign operation. For Vygotsky meaning represents the path from the thought to word, which has a range of important conceptual implications. Vygotsky described inner speech as idiomatic, and compared it to a dialect. Inner speech is simplified and compressed, as it ‘opens up’ with difficulty to others, and is hardly intelligible without context. It consists of apparent fragments, which makes it elliptic, full of gaps. Inner speech deviates from outer speech by its syntax. What is expressed in speech, mainly as diachronic and successive, appears in thought as synchronic and simultaneous. While inner speech is paradigmatic (associative), outer speech is basically syntagmatic (co-ordinative).

Eagle explains how Eisenstein related these ideas to cinema:

What is characteristic of the cinema is that syntagmatic juxtapositions proceed simultaneously on so many levels, levels which are to a degree independent but which at a deeper level must relate to the totality and unity of the concept… What is the syntagmatic process through which these signs are untied? It is both horizontal (the development of sign linearity in time) and vertical (the concatenation of signs simultaneous in time).[52]

There is a tendency in scholarly literature to divide Eisenstein’s career into two parts separated by an ‘epistemological shift’: the montage stage and the stage of mise en scène, linking the former with modelling rational thought and the latter with emotional and affective states.[53] However, it can be argued that there is a continuity between these two stages, evident in the ideas of intellectual montage and the principle of inner monologue. What is changing for Eisenstein was the very understanding of what thought is. Unlike the equating of thought with cognitive processes and mental representation of the early montage period, the definition of thought at the later stage acquires an augmented meaning, becoming synonymous with mind in its unity of rational and emotional processes.

As Eisenstein moved towards counterpoint and polyphony, he increasingly came to describe the nature of inner monologue as flexible, pictorial, non-logical and mythic. This corresponds to his growing interest in such phenomena as plasma, stream, state of flux and malleability – as he searched for ultimately plastic forms that stand at the very beginning of the invention of expressive means. Eisenstein points out that inner speech is, unlike outer verbal speech, closer to image-based thinking. Even though it shares fundamental similarities with language, it operates through a variety of media and symbolic modalities: words, pictures, sounds and writing. Eisenstein insisted that, “the laws of construction of inner speech turn out to be precisely those laws which lie at the foundation of the whole variety of laws governing the construction of the form and composition of art-works”.[54]

Eisenstein’s development and mobilisation of the concept of inner speech, initially worked out in collaboration with Vygotsky, anticipated the challenges of the multimedia digital shift. Addressing the massive changes facing audio visual narration at the beginning of the 21st century, many scholars argue that the experience of time and space in the multimedia society will become weaker as the principles that determine the observing and representing of the world in nonlinear ways to analyse data become stronger.[55] These nonlinear ways encompass shifts from diachrony to synchrony and from syntagm to paradigm. Eisenstein-Vygotsky’s ideas can be seen “as profound displacements in narrative structures and as a kind of bridge to a new type of associative audio visual narration and polysemic multimedia expression”.[56]

Synaesthesia and Digital Media

Another prophetic idea that has emerged from Eisenstein’s collaboration with Vygotsky and Luria, and which he articulated through his work on Method, was the importance of synaesthesia, addressed simultaneously as a neuropsychological and aesthetic phenomenon. Eisenstein became interested in synaesthesia through Luria’s experimental work. The bulk of this work followed a journalist, Solomon V. Shereshevskii, referred to in the literature as patient S., who had both synesthetic ability and superior ability to recall and remember. Luria had studied S. for over thirty years, beginning in the early 1920s, and described him in his monograph The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory,[57] which to this day remains a point of departure for neuropsychologists interested in the phenomenon of synaesthesia. The concept of synaesthesia has been made popular in America by the neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks, who closely followed Luria’s work and corresponded with him for many years.

Synaesthesia, which derives from the Greek syn, for together, and aisthêsis, for perception, refers to a complex multi-modal integration of the senses. It is defined as a phenomenon in which a given stimulus that is responded to by one sensory modality, triggers a secondary sensory experience (percept) from the same or a different sensory modality. Eisenstein became familiar with Luria’s patient in 1938 and discussed him in a number of articles, including ‘On Colour’ and ‘Vertical Montage’, in which he describes Shereshevskii’s ability “to see sounds as colours, and to hear colours as sounds”.[58] In mobilising the notion of synaesthesia, Eisenstein not only appropriated its neurological and cognitive definition but linked these with the understanding of synaesthesia as an aesthetic phenomenon.

In his recent monograph Eisenstein on the Audiovisual, Robert Robertson points out how Eisenstein provided two definitions of synaesthesia.[59] In Film Sense, Eisenstein defines synaesthesia as “the production from one sense-impression of one kind of an associated mental image of a sense-impression of another kind”,[60] while later, in Non Indifferent Nature, Eisenstein expands the definition of synaesthesia and suggests that this process of association of sense-impressions has an added emotional dimension. Robertson analyses Eisenstein’s interest in synaesthesia by explicating his ideas of how colour, music and sound work in cinema, opera, and theatre through synchronisation, timing, rhythm, harmony and counterpoint. He further traces the way in which Eisenstein’s synaesthetic attitude shaped a multitude of his engagements, both theoretical and applied: Eisenstein’s audio visual collaboration with Sergei Prokofiev on his films Alexander Nevsky (1937-1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1942-1945), his work on staging Wagner’s The Valkyries, his analysis of the Japanese Kabuki theatre as a synesthetic experience, and the Sung tradition of Chinese philosophy that relies on colour and sound equivalence.

However, the full extent of the significance of synaesthesia for Eisenstein only becomes clear in the context of Method considered alongside his collaboration with Vygotsky and Luria. In his late piece, The Magic of Art, which was preserved in Luria’s archive for fifty years after Eisenstein’s death, and which is now positioned as a prologue to the Russian 2002 edition of Method, Eisenstein stated:

Magic here is not an empty figure of speech.

For art (the real one) artificially turns the spectator back to the sensory thinking stage, to its norms and types, and this stage is in reality a stage of magic interrelation with nature.

When you have reached,  for example, a synaesthetic merging of sound and image – you have placed the viewer’s perception under sensory thinking conditions, where the synaesthetic perception is the only possible one – there is still no differentiation of perception.

And you have the spectator “re-orientated” not to the norms of today’s perception, but to the norms of a primordially sensory one – he is “returned” to the magical stage of normal sensation.

And the idea that has been brought about by such a system of influences, incarnated into a form by such means – irresistibly controls  the emotions.
For the feelings and consciousness in this case are submissive and manageable almost as if it were a trance.

And from a passive magical state which perceives art simultaneously – to an actively magical one in which the spectator is possessed and managed by a magician-creator.[61]

At this stage, synaesthetic perception becomes the main explanatory principle of aesthetic reaction – the magic of art – in accordance with the main idea of Grundproblem, implying a regressive reactivation of neuronal correlates of prior historical stages. Art is effective because the ecstatic experiences it provokes takes one back to the early evolutionary phases of sensuous thought, where no differentiation of perception yet existed. Eisenstein’s valorisation of synaesthesia also reflected his overriding orientation towards a broader unity of psychological processes and the mental functions.

Eisenstein’s ideas on synaesthesia resonate with the views of many philosophers and psychologists reiterated recently by Antonio Damasio, who argued that “synaesthesia is a key to understanding of consciousness”.[62] Antonio Damasio, one of the leading proponents of the contemporary integrative science of mind and brain, introduced and developed the metaphor of a ‘movie in the brain’, which rests on the idea of synaesthesia. Damasio posits that the human mind that has “as many sensory-based tracks as our nervous system has sensory portals – sight, sound, taste, and olfaction, touch, inner senses, and so on” – and hence shares some fundamental similarity with cinema.[63] On a broader scale, two leading experts on synaesthesia today, Vilayanur Ramachandran and Edward Hubbard, suggest that synaesthesia can eventually help to describe “the evolution of metaphor, language, and even abstract thought in humans”,[64] as well as the nature of emotional experience and the philosophical problem of qualia –  the presence of subjective, conscious experience.[65]

The idea of synaesthesia as a unifying dimension continues to reverberate in the area of media and cinema theory as well. Synaesthesia, as a balanced interplay of senses, serves as a central notion in Marshal McLuhan’s exploration of the relationship between media, culture, and the human sensorium.[66] This exploration acquires new currency in the context of current developments in the digital era of communication, with the proliferation of hypermedia, interactive multimedia and virtual reality modelling.

More recently, specifically within the area of film theory and film history, Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, in their study Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses, have suggested an analytic approach to film history and film analysis that organises theoretical perspectives and group of films around particular sensory modality.[67] Focusing on the question, “What is the relationship between the cinema, perception and the human body?” Elsaesser and Hagener provide a fascinating account of the role of the senses of vision, tactility and sound in the processes of engagement with cinema, foregrounding the synaesthetic understanding of the experience of cinema.

In this context, it can be seen that Eisenstein’s own take on the issue of synaesthesia, anticipated the most intriguing and promising views of today, particularly the strong connections that he forged between a synaesthetic understanding of the work of the mind and brain and the multimodal language of cinema.


Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s approach provides a framework where cinema and thinking are addressed as inextricably and profoundly connected. For Eisenstein, in order to deliver an aesthetic message, the very ordering and structuring of audio visual flow should be based on the structure of thought. For Vygotsky and Luria, only through its expression in signs and symbols, in surface representation, does thought find itself.   From this perspective, cinema becomes yet another tool or means of thinking, arguably – a decisive means in the multimedia ecology of the twentieth and twenty-first century. Moreover, Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s approach provides a broader framework that positions the problematics of cinematic thinking within a holistic understanding of human psyche and subjectivity on the one hand (through cultural-historical theory) and foregrounds a complementary neuroaesthetics that is based on a synaesthetic understanding of the work of the mind and the brain.

It appears thus that Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s project can be productively mobilised in relation to three challenges faced in current debates in the Humanities generally and cinema studies specifically: the general shift beyond postmodernity, the current so- called crisis in film theory (with its increasing division between the cognitivist camp and affect studies), and the digital revolution and the multimedia environment.

The current moment in the Humanities is characterised by debates about the fate and legacy of postmodernism, which bears significantly on the discussion of the state of cinema theory. As a reaction to a modernist paradigm that demanded a holistic approach often tied to an essentialist understanding, postmodernism led to a fragmentation of approaches to, and objects of, scholarly enquiry. Entering the post-postmodern period, the challenge for theory or post-theory practitioners is how to transcend postmodern fragmentation without resorting to a unitary foundationalist perspective that can be seen as hegemonic. Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s approach, which posits consciousness as socially produced, symbolically mediated and supported by flexible neurological functional systems, provides a promising unifying framework to address subjectivity and understand aesthetic experience from a holistic perspective at the beginning of the 21st century.

The need for a unifying framework is particularly urgent in the area of cinema studies proper, where the compartmentalisation of approaches, especially the division between the cognitivist camp and studies of affect, is contributing to a sense of crisis in film theory.[68] Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s legacy is pertinent in this context, as it allows for a transcending of the current divide between cognitivism, on the one hand, and a focus on affect and phenomenology, on the other. Eisenstein/Vygotsky/Luria proposed a consistently holistic framework that addresses the human subject (spectator) as an embodied, historical, active agent operating simultaneously across a number of psychological levels through ‘sensual thinking’ and engaging with a vast range of symbolic systems (media).

Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s understanding of consciousness as embodied, embedded, enacted and extended becomes particularly relevant with the increasing digitisation of media. The digital revolution opened new vistas for film development by enriching a range of technologies of production and modes of delivery through which moving image and sound will operate in the digital 21st century. Comparing the digital revolution to some other significant shifts in cultural production, Thomas Elsaesser notes:

Even if the philosophical implications and political consequences of this shift are not yet as clear as those of the Renaissance and Humanist Enlightenment, it is safe to say that fixed perspective and the “window on the world” of easel painting (and cinema) is competing with the multiple screen/monitor/interface windows, refreshed images, embedded links, and different forms of graphics, topographies, and visualizations and that the book is also in full mutation, as written texts become both searchable and alterable, as well as dynamically linked with images, diagrams, and graphics.[69]

As film becomes an increasingly trans-medial experience and part of an increasingly multimedia environment, the need to understand how different media can work alongside each other, as well as how different sensory modalities can work within one medium, increases. In this respect, Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s ideas about the relationship between thought, meaning and its medium-specific expression in language and speech, audio and visual images and other semiotic systems remain pivotal.

Eisenstein–Vygotsky–Luria’s conceptual models, formulated in the areas of neuroaesthetics and semiotics, allow us to forge specific constructive links between the multimodal medium of film and the integrative science of mind and brain. In doing so, their approach allows us to avoid a pitfall of naturalising the human mind by insisting powerfully on the idea that cultural organisation enters directly into functional systems of brain organisation. It can be argued that Eisenstein-Vygotsky-Luria’s project represents the single most sustained and successful attempt to unite the integrative science of mind and brain with film theory, an attempt that rests solidly on the belief that culture is a fundamental constituent of human nature.



[1] Reported in V. Ivanov, Chet i nechet: Asimmetriia Mozga i Znakovykh Sistem [Odd and Even: Asymmetry of the Brain and Sign Systems], Moscow: Sovetskoe Radio, 1978.
[2] See: I. Christie and R. Taylor (eds), Eisenstein Rediscovered, London: Routledge, 1993; A.L. Valley and B.P. Scherr (eds), Eisenstein at 100: A Reconsideration, New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2001; A. Nesbet, Savage Junctures: Sergei Eisenstein and the Shape of Thinking, New York: I.B. Taurus, 2003.
[3] F. Casetti quoted in E.G. Grossi, “Eisenstein as Theoretician. Preliminary Considerations” in Eisenstein Rediscovered, 167.
[4] I. Christie and R. Taylor (eds), Eisenstein Rediscovered, London: Routledge, 1993; A.L. Valley and B.P. Scherr (eds), Eisenstein at 100: A Reconsideration, New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2001.
[5] D. Bordwell, The Cinema of Eisenstein, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.
[6] V. Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
[7] T.K. Grodal, Embodied Visions: Evolution, Emotion, Culture, and Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
[8] P. Tikka, Enactive Cinema: Simulatorium Eisensteinense, PhD dissertation, Helsinki: University of Art and Design Publication Series, 2008.
[9] M. Wertheimer, “Gestalt Theory”, in W.D. Ellis (ed. and trans.), Source Book of Gestalt Psychology, New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1938, 3.
[10] P. Tikka, Enactive Cinema: Simulatorium Eisensteinense, PhD dissertation, Helsinki: University of Art and Design Publication Series, 2008.
[11] O. Bulgakova, “Sergei Eisenshtein i Ego ‘Psikhologicheskiy Berlin’ – mezhdu Psikhoanalizom i Strukturnoy Psikhologiey” [“Sergei Eisenstein and his ‘Psychological Berlin’: between Psychoanalysis and Structural Psychology”], Kinovedcheskie Zapiski, 2, 1988, 187.
[12] S.M. Eisenstein, Notes of a Film Director Sergei Eisenstein, New York: Dower Publications, 1970, 17.
[13] D. Bordwell, The Cinema of Eisenstein, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, 116.
[14] N. Kleiman, “Arguments and Ancestors”, in Eisenstein Rediscovered, 34.
[15] S.M. Eisenstein, Method, I, Moscow: Museum of Cinema, Eisenstein-Centre, 136.
[16] L.S. Vygotsky, Psychologia Iskusstva [Psychology of Art], Moskva: Iskusstvo, 1967, 15.
[17] Ibid.,[17].
[18] P. Smagorinsky, “Vygotsky’s Stage Theory: The Psychology of Art and the Actor under the Direction of Perezhivanie”, Mind, Culture, and Activity, 18(4) (2011), 319-341, 326.
[19] L.S. Vygotsky, Psychologia Iskusstva, 18.
[20] Ibid., 212.
[21] L.S. Vygotsky, ‘The Instrumental Method in Psychology’, in J.V. Wertsch (ed.), The Concept of Activity in Soviet Psychology, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1981, 137.
[22] J. Lotman, Universe of the Mind, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 2000, 273.
[23] T.V. Akhutina, N.M. Pylaeva, “L. Vygotsky, A. Luria and Developmental Neuropsychology”, Psychology in Russia: State of the Art, 2011, 4, 155-175, 157.
[24] A. Luria, Prinzipy Realnoi Psychologii [The Principles of a Real Psychology], in J.M. Glozman, D.A. Leontiev, A.D. Radkobskaya (eds), A.R. Luria. Psychological Tribute 295-384, Moscow: Smysl.
[25] J.M. Glozman, “A.R. Luria and the History of Russian Neuropsychology”, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 16, 2007, 168-180.
[26] M. Cole, “A.R. Luria and the Cultural-Historical Approach in Psychology”, in T. Akhutina et al. (eds), A.R. Luria and Contemporary Psychology, Nova Science Publishers, 2005, 35-41, 37.
[27] A. Luria, The Nature of Human Conflicts or Emotions, Conflict and Will, New York: Liveright, 1932.
[28] A. Luria, Higher Cortical Functions in Man, Plenum Publishing Corporation, 1980, 34.
[29] L.S.  Vygotsky, The Collected Works of L.S.Vygotsky, Vol. 3, ed. R.W. Reiber, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 1987-1999, 5.
[30] M. Cole, “A.R. Luria and the Cultural-Historical Approach in Psychology”, in A.R. Luria and Contemporary Psychology, 35-41.
[31] A. Luria, The Nature of Human Conflicts or Emotions, 6-7.
[32] L.S.  Vygotsky, The Collected Works of L.S. Vygotsky, Vol. 3, ed. R.W. Reiber, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 1987-1999, 115.
[33] S.M. Eisenstein, Method, RGALI, fond 1923, 2-256.
[34] L.S.  Vygotsky, The Collected Works of L.S.Vygotsky, Vol. 5, ed. R.W. Reiber, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 1987-1999, 123.
[35] L.S.  Vygotsky, The Collected Works of L.S.Vygotsky, Vol. 4, ed. R.W. Reiber, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 1987-1999, 102.
[36] A. Luria, Traumatic Aphasia: Its Syndromes, Psychology, and Treatment, Mouton de Gruyter, 1970, 370.
[37] Each of these mechanisms Eisenstein discusses in detail in Method: see Method I, Moscow: Museum of Cinema, Eisenstein-Centre, 2002: Part II, ‘Grundproblem’: 140-250 and part III, ‘Shifts in Time’: 250-333.
[38] S.M. Eisenstein, in RGALI, fond 1923, 2-267.
[39] S.M. Eisenstein, in RGALI, fond 1923, 2-264.
[40] Ibid.
[41] S.M. Eisenstein, “Psychology of Art“, in Psycholgia Processov Chudojestvennogo Tvorchestva, Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1980, 195.
[42] S. Markovic´, “Components of aesthetic experience: aesthetic fascination, aesthetic appraisal, and aesthetic emotion”, Perception, 2012, volume 3, 1–17.
[43] B. Eikhenbaum, “Problems of Film Stylistics”, trans. Thomas Aman, Screen, 15(4), 1974, 7-32.
[44] L. Vygotsky, Thought and Language, The MIT Press, 1986, 250.
[45] A. Luria, Language and Cognition, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982, 154.
[46] L. Vygotsky, Thought and Language, 218.
[47] G. Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, London/New York: Continuum/Athlone, 1986.
[48] F.Casetti, Theories of Cinema, 1945-1990, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.
[49] S. Eisenstein, Film Form, London: Dennis Dobson, 1949, 62.
[50] A. Michelson, “Reading Eisenstein, Reading Capital”  October , Vol 2 (Summer, 1976) 26-38.
[51] S. Eisenstein, Film Form, London: Dennis Dobson, 1949, 130.
[52] H. Eagle, “Eisenstein as a Semiotician of the Cinema”, in R.W. Bailey, L. Matejka, and P. Steiner (eds), The Sign: Semiotics around the World, Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1980, 173-193, 186.
[53] D. Bordwell, “Eisenstein’s Epistemological Shift”, Screen 15(4), 1974, 29-46.
[54] S. Eisenstein, Film Form, 130.
[55] S. Cubitt, “Spreadsheets, Sitemaps and Search Engines” in New Screen Media: Cinema/Art/Narrative, BFI, 2002, 3-14.
[56] U. Oksanen, “From Inner Speech to Dialogic Semiosis: A Semiotic Approach to Audiovisual Multimedia Communication”, in S. Tella (ed.), Media, Mediation, Time and Communication Emphases in Network-Based Media Education, Helsinki: Media Education Publications 9, 2000, 193-212, 209.
[57] A. Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory, Harvard University Press, 1987.
[58] S. M. Eisenstein, Selected Works, Vol. 2, 368.
[59] R. Robertson, Eisenstein on the Audiovisual: The Montage of Music, Image and Sound in Cinema, London, New York: I. B. Tauris, 2009.
[60] S. Eisenstein, The Film Sense, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942, 119.
[61] S.M. Eisenstein, Method, I, Moscow: Museum of Cinema, Eisenstein-Centre, 46.
[62] A. Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness, Place: Vintage, 2000, 348n8.
[63] Ibid., 9.
[64] V. Ramachandran and E. Hubbard, “The Emergence of the Human Mind: Some Clues from Synaesthesia”, in Lynn C. Robertson and Noam Sagiv (eds), Synaesthesia, Oxford University Press, 2005, 146-190, 148.
[65] V. Ramachandran and E. Hubbard, “Synaesthesia – A Window into Perception, Thought and Language”, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8(12), 2001, 3-34.
[66] M. McLuhan, Understanding Media, MIT Press, 1995.
[67] T. Elsaesser and M. Hagener, Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses, Routledge, 2010.
[68] R. Sinnerbrink, “Sea-Change: Transforming the ‘Crisis’ in Film Theory”, Necsus: European Journal of Media Studies, 1 (Spring 2012):
[69]T. Elsaesser, “The Mind Game Film in Puzzle Films”, in Warren Buckland (ed.), Complex Storytelling in Contemporary Cinema, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, 23-24.

About the Author

Julia Vassilieva

Julia Vassilieva is Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at Monash University. Her research interests include historical film theory and criticism, intersection of film, politics and philosophy, and contemporary Russian cinema and popular culture. She has conducted extensive research in S. Eisenstein’s archives in Russia and has published widely on Eisenstein in English and in Russian. Her publications include “Between Utopia and Event: Beyond the Banality of Local Politics in Eisenstein”, Film-Philosophy, 15, “Capital and Co: Kluge, Eisenstein, Marx”, Screening the Past, 31, “Sergei Eisenstein’s ¡Qué viva México! through Time: Historicising Value Judgment”, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 24.5. Among her recent publications are also “Religious Discourse as an Empty Signifier in the Post-Communist Russian Cultural Space”, Aesopic Voices, 2011, and “Becoming-girl in the New Russian Cinema: Valeria Gai Germanika’s Films and Youth Television”, forthcoming in Camera Obscura. She is co-editor, with Con Verevis, of After Taste: Cultural Value and the Moving Image, Routledge, 2012.

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