Russian Filmmaker Exploits Drunk Baby!!

film camera drunk baby2Zee Russians are always handy scapegoats for any number of things, da?

In this case, I’m talking about one particular Russian’s film editing brainstorm from the early 1900’s that has a direct effect on YOUR editing today, no matter the project or your editing experience or software.

Keep reading for the drunk baby part.

A certain Soviet filmmaker conducted a film editing experiment in the early 20th century where he showed a shot of an expressionless man, then a shot of a bowl of soup. Back to the man, same expression.

Then a shot of a body in a casket. Back to the man, same expression.

Then to a shot of a woman in a bikini. Back to the same man, same expression.

Audiences at the time remarked at the remarkable breadth of emotion portrayed by the actor – hunger for the soup, sadness at the body in the casket, lust for the scantily clad woman.

But it was the exact same shot of the actor every single time. The differences in the actor’s “reactions” only existed in the mind of the audience by virtue of how the shots were edited together.

This is what is known to generations of film students as The Kuleshov Effect, named for its founder, Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov.

Behold! Through the modern miracle of YouTube, here is the original sequence.

And here’s a cool alternate explanation of the Kuleshov Effect by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. He doesn’t call it the Kuleshov Effect, but it’s the exact same idea:

So please believe, this is not a random thing that only applies to Soviet propagandists or master filmmakers from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It applies to you, right here, right now, and it happens every day.

Like the other day when I posted these two pictures on The Power Edit on FB:

So unless you’re either friends with me or on the Power Edit Daily Email List, you probably don’t know that my wife and I just this past week adopted our first child.

We flew out to Tennessee when his birth mother went into labor, and eventually brought him back to our home in Los Angeles. The night after we checked out of the hospital, I went out and bought one of our favorite celebration wines – the Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir, any vintage.

Absolutely delicious, even when paired with, ahem, Trader Joe’s Chicken Nuggets.

Hey, it made sense at the time.

So I randomly posted these two pictures in the group. Even though my intent was to share a goofy little “this way to the gun show” pose that my newborn son randomly struck, and to give a recommendation for a killer bottle of wine, one group member quipped:

“Editorially this is a very disturbing message. Kuleshov would have a field day with this mini montage.”

Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I saw that, because I would’ve spit it across the room.

Hey, whaddya know, an alcoholic baby.

Like I say, I blame zee Russians. They do like their vodka, after all.

So yeah, this stuff applies to the 21st century. And it most definitely applies to your editing, no matter your project or your editing experience.

How are you using your elements in your editing to create different or unexpected combinations of meaning?

This post is adapted from some of the Power Edit daily emails I write every Monday through Friday. They’re always short, entertaining, enlightening, or some combination of all three.

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