Eisenstein and the Filmic Fourth Dimension

In the ” Filmic Fourth Dimension” essay by Sergei Eisenstein, Eisenstein outlines and provides evidence for why a fourth dimension exists and can be accessed through film and the correct use of montage. Eisenstein first defines what he considers orthodox montage. He defines orthodox montage as ” montage on the dominante, i.e. the combination of shots according to their dominating indications” ( Eisenstein 64). These dominate indications include tempo, chief tendency within the frame, length of shots, and he further says this is montage “according to the foreground”( Eisenstein 64). He discusses a new form of editing different from orthodox montage in regards to a film called “Old and New.” He declares that the film is the first one edited on the principal of the visual overtone( Eisenstein 68). This “visual overtone”  results in an increased physiological quality due to its use of “collateral vibrations which is nothing less than the filmed material itself”, as I understand it visual overtone seeks to actually have a physical effect on the viewer in the form of increased brain activity( Eisenstein 67). He goes into great detail about the actual physical handling, cutting, and piecing together that happens on the editing table. Eisenstein also says that “visual overtone” is an actual piece, an actual element of -a fourth dimension” ( Eisenstein 69). By using the word element I assume he is applying that the “visual overtone” cannot be broken into smaller parts and that it is a building block of this “fourth dimension.” As far as I can understand this “fourth dimension” as Eisenstein outlines it consists of movement in a space-time continuum through the use of “visual overtone” or physiological sensations, separate from the expressive effect gained from orthodox montage. An emphasis is put on ” I feel” instead of “I See” or ” I hear” , but then Eisenstein says “and from the  contrapuntal conflict between the visual and aural overtones will be born the composition of the Soviet sound film” (Eisenstein 71). Is he implying that this fourth dimension consists of only feeling, both sound wise and visually? If this is the case if a film truly delved into the fourth dimension wouldn’t the aural and visual overtones become one, just an overall sense of “feeling”?


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