Swapna Mirashi

Montage comes from the French word monter which simply means assembling or editing.

Films have been used as a tool of persuasion, change minds and shape public opinion. And they remain so till date. And films derive their ultimate power and meaning by the way the shots are cut together – their order, duration, repetition and rhythm.


Kuleshov Effect – viewers derive more meaning from two shots cut together than a single shot on its own. That is the true power of cinema which no other art form can match – juxtapose two unrelated images together to create a new meaning.

Filmmaker Lev Kuleshov experimented with editing, he cut a shot of an expressionless face with 3 unrelated shots and asked the viewers what the man was feeling;

  1. He took a shot of a then Russian matinee idol staring without any expression straight into the camera.
  2. He then cut the shot with a shot of a bowl of soup. He asked the viewers what Ivan was feeling. The viewers responded Ivan was feeling hungry
  3. At another point, Kuleshov cut Ivan’s shot with a girl in a coffin. The viewers responded saying Ivan was feeling grief.
  4. The third time Ivan’s shot was cut by a woman on a sofa and smiling. Viewers responded that Ivan felt ‘desire’.


Editor more as an engineer than an artist

Sergei Eisenstein ‘s Battleship Potemkin exemplify the use of Montage to accentuate chaos, impact of violence and choke the audience out of their complacency.


5 methods of Montage

Metric Montage

– cutting shots to the beat, purely based on the length of the shot

Rhythmic Montage

– cutting according to the rhythm of the action in the shot

Tonal Montage

– cutting with focus on the tone of the shot (light, shade, tempo), even cutting shots with contrasting  tones to create a heightened effect.

Over-tonal Montage

– using all the above three methods to create a play between the shots.

The above 4 methods are used to get an emotional response from the audience.

Intellectual or ideological Montage

– cut to ideas, based on abstraction. The best example of a movie that uses this Montage Method is Eisenstein’s October: Ten Days That Shook The World



The History of Cutting – The Soviet Theory of Montage

PBS Crash Course