Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (Russian: Сергей Михайлович Эйзенштейн Sergej Mihajlovič Ejzenštejn; January 23, 1898 – February 11, 1948) was a revolutionary Soviet Russian film director and film theorist noted in particular for his silent films Strike, Battleship Potemkin and October, as well as historical epics Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible. His work vastly influenced early filmmakers owing to his innovative use of and writings about montage.

From Theatre to Cinema

With Japanese kabuki actor Sadanji Ichikawa II, Moscow, 1928

In 1920 Eisenstein moved to Moscow, and began his career in theatre working for Proletkult.[12] His productions there were entitled Gas Masks, Listen Moscow, and Wiseman,[13] Eisenstein would then work as a designer for Vsevolod Meyerhold.[14] In 1923 Eisenstein began his career as a theorist,[15] by writing The Montage of Attractions for LEF.[16] Eisenstein’s first film, Glumov’s Diary, was also made in this year with Dziga Vertov hired initially as an “instructor.”[17][18] The film formed part of his theatre production Wiseman.

“Strike” (1925) was Eisensteins first full length feature film. The Battleship Potemkin (1925) was acclaimed critically worldwide. But it was mostly his international critical renown which enabled Eisenstein to direct The General Line (aka Old and New), and then October (aka Ten Days That Shook The World) as part of a grand tenth anniversary celebration of the October Revolution of 1917. The critics of the outside world praised them, but at home, Eisenstein’s focus in these films on structural issues such as camera angles, crowd movements and montage, brought him and likeminded others, such as Vsevolod Pudovkin and Alexander Dovzhenko, under fire from the Soviet film community, forcing him to issue public articles of self-criticism and commitments to reform his cinematic visions to conform to socialist realism‘s increasingly specific doctrines.