Effekt Kuleshova (1969) - full transcript

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You may stand,
walk or sit.

It's absolutely not important,
it has nothing to do with Brecht.

What's important is
that your heart act here.

And even more,
that the intellect should act.

Galileo acts with his intellect,
with proofs.

Because thought is one
of the characters in Brecht's play.

Thought acts in his play.

The actors think, it's the battle of
thoughts, the clash of thoughts.

The struggle of thoughts,
the action of thoughts.

The whole cinematographic motion
that we are used to,

in Brecht's play
is in the clash of thoughts.

About who do we say
that he goes with open eyes?

About one who goes to his death.

How can the powers that be

let the one who knows
the truth be at large?

Even if it's the truth about
most distant constellations.

And how can you wish to leave the
republic with the truth in your pocket

and with your stupid
spyglass in hand?

You don't believe Aristotle,

but you believe
the Grand Duke of Florence.

When you stood with your spyglass
observing those new planets,

I imagined seeing you
standing in a bonfire.

And when you said you believed
in the strength of proofs,

I sensed
the smell of burning meat.

I love science.

But even more,
I love you, my friend.

Don't go to Florence, Galileo.

If they receive me, I'll go.

Not this way. Not this way.

It didn't work quite right this time.

I read it several times...
But this time, I think...

Omar, actually,
you should be more attentive

when you work with
an Honoured Artist,

Doctor of Arts,

an almost 70-year-old man.

Filmed it? That's it?

I'm finished.


Screenplay by A. KONOPLYOVA
Directed by S. RAITBURT

Cinematography by


English Subtitles by
T. Kameneva

Lev Vladimirovich,
between this photo

and that one lie 54 years of your life.

What do you remember
especially vividly?

What years do you
consider to be landmarks?

Well, you see...


There were many turning points.

There were many things.

Both happy and bitter moments.

What do you remember best of all?

The revolution, of course.

To me, a boy then...

I was eighteen.

The revolution opened for me

absolutely new opportunities.

These opportunities
were primarily

in working with newsreels.

I was directing the shooting of

Though my life in cinema

began a little earlier.

When I was only 17,

I for the first time came

to a film studio,

which was called at that time
Khanzhonkov's film factory,

and since then I've never
left cinema.

My God,
the things I saw that first time

at Khanzhonkov's studio,
in the pavilion!

It was all filled
with some screens,

all kinds of chandeliers
were hanging from the ceiling,

some columns stood here and there,

the gilded furniture in one place,
a hut in another.

And in three different corners,

three different directors

and three different cameramen
were filming.

They were filming
to promptings.

It was going on like this.

Go, go.

It's approaching, approaching.

She's all trembling, trembling.

More passion, more passion.
Be excited, excited.

But I was lucky.

I met a remarkable
director of that time,

Yevgeny Frantsevich Bauer.

He took me in
as his production designer.

And suddenly the King of the screen
got ill,

a celebrity, a handsome actor,

And for some reason, Bauer
began insisting

that I play his role

in the film “In Pursuit of Happiness”.

I tried to do my best.

Actually, I was really
in love with an actress

who played the lead role.

So I had nothing
left to do

but playact
my own feelings.

And when you look at the screen,

you'll see how awful it is.

Is it really 17?

But it was me.

In 1918 I made my first
film as a director,

“Engineer Prite's Project”.

It was the first Russian,

I say “Russian” because the studios
were still private,

the first Russian film made by montage.

Lev Vladimirovich,
what is the history of the discovery

that is now called
the Kuleshov effect?

It was the result of spending a lot
of time at the editing table

and all kinds of experiments
I was conducting,

joining together different shots,

joining different things together.

And I discovered
that if you join

one shot with another,

or one shot with two others,

then you'll get
not only what's depicted

in each of these shots,

but something new,

something these shots don't have,
something that doesn't exist.

Today, every cinematic
infant knows that,

or in any case,
every good film director.

The entire cinematograph
works like that now.

What is this?
Is this my discovery?

There's a philosophical notion
of chance and necessity.

That this is the Kuleshov effect
is chance.

And that this is the effect
is necessity.

Because by that time,
the cinematic culture

had so much matured

that it required
new means of expression,

it couldn't remain
to be not an art,

it just had,

it had to become
an art by all means.

I was just lucky
that I happened to do it.

So to speak, the fortune

just fell into my lap.

But a real school
of cinematography for me

was my work
in the Soviet newsreel production,

at the front line and in the rear.

I remember especially well our shoots
with cinematographer Zabazlayev.

The unsealing of the relics of
Sergius of Radonezh in Zagorsk.

The atmosphere was very tense
when we were filming.

But when they unsealed
the so-called relics,

what they discovered there

was wrapped in
Russkiye Vedomosti newspapers.

Not so long ago,

the monks had violated
the inviolability of the holy relics.

One of the major filming of mine

took place
on the Kolchak front,

with the cinematographer
Eduard Tisse.

What do I remember of that?

First of all, the first machinegun
that was firing at me.

It's frightening if you're not
used to it.

Another thing that struck me was
Tisse's amazing bravery.

And what gave me special joy...

a visit to the first
state school of cinematography,

which was founded

on September 1, 1919.

It was winter time, and I arrived
there wearing a tall fur hat,

a sheepskin coat,

with a Mauser at my belt,

and I went to see
the school's students studying.

Among the female students,

at a dance party,
I saw a charming, interesting,

delicate and original woman
in an orange smock,

Alexandra Khokhlova.

Khokhlova became a woman,

with whom all my life in cinema

was connected later,

all my personal life,

all my work,
all my experiments.

I'm very happy that she exists

and that she helped me so much

to understand
a lot of things in cinema.

May 1, 1920.

It was an exceptional
day in our life.

On that day we first
saw Lenin so close to us.

We, the school's three students,

were taken by Kuleshov
to the filming

of an all-Russia subbotnik.

The cinematographer Levitsky
was photographing.

That same day we were listening

to Lenin's speech at the laying of
the monument to “Liberated Labour”.

Shortly after that, together
with the film school's students

and cinematographer Yermolov,

I again went to the front.

And in the thick of the Red Army's
military operation against White Poles,

we shot the first
Soviet agitation film,

and called it
“On the Red Front”.

In that film
we combined dramatization scenes

with footage of
actual war newsreels.

I should have begun like this.

I met
Lev Vladimirovich Kuleshov

on such a day,
at such an hour.

Author Viktor Shklovsky.

But we don't memorize
when we meet one another.

Actually, it was like this.

I met him
somewhere in 1924.

But I had heard a lot about Kuleshov.

He was doing a lot of things.

So little by little,
I was getting aware of him.

When I met him,

and Khokhlova, too,

I saw a young,
very elegant woman

and a handsome young man.

Lev had preserved that self-assured
handsomeness for a long time.

He usually entered a room
as if he appeared on the set.

His workshop at the film school,
Kuleshov called a laboratory.

Studying there were Pudovkin,







We had not a single meter of film.

For this reason, we had to do
platonic screen tests,

photographing our studies
with a photo camera.

We also performed our sketches
and pantomimes on the stage.

Someone dubbed them “films without

We learned not to reckon with

or difficulties,

and mounted a production,
on which was written:

“First work of
the Kuleshov collective”.

It was the film

“The Extraordinary Adventures of
Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks”

to a script by poet Oseyev.

It was about an American senator,

who read a lot of
anti-Soviet literature

and came to Moscow,

being convinced that
he got to a barbaric country.

And, indeed,
the senator was unlucky.

He ended up in the hands of
a thieves' gang.

Tea “Soviet style”

Done very truthfully,
just like in real life...

In those years, we first saw

American dashing
adventure films,

and we lived through this infatuation,

as all '20s creative
young people did.

We wanted to prove
that we also could

make films with chase sequences,
fights and frantic montage.

The Bolsheviks kidnapped
the suitcases and Mister West!

Spring of 1926.

We are on location.

Cold and wet.


But happy.

This is us, to the howling of
a plane's wind,

to a manmade storm,

to a fire-pump,

which was showering us with rain,

shooting the film “By the Law”.

The film “By the Law” was based

on Jack London's
short story “The Unexpected”.

The script was written by Shklovsky.

Why did you do it?

I thought
it would be so easy...

And you said
I was going to be hanged...

The appointed day came.

I value this film

because my students

performed in it
as brilliant actors.

They worked even better
than I had expected.

It is also dear to me

because the film was magnificently

by cinematographer Kuznetsov.

It was the first
independent work

of Kostya Kuznetsov.

The execution.

May... God...

...receive you,
a repentant sinner.

But when it was released,

don't think that
it was received triumphantly.

Some criticized it,
others lauded it,

still others believed
that it was only for connoisseurs.

And when one of the critics,
comrade Khersonsky,

said that this film

should be
locked up in a safe

and shown only to specialists,

Mayakovsky remarked:

“Only to Khersonsky,
and only on Sundays.”


When, in 1913 or 1914,

I returned to Tambov
after my first trip to Moscow,

I announced
that I had met Mayakovsky.

It was a lie.

I hadn't got acquainted with
Mayakovsky, I hadn't even seen him.

And now I was acquainted with

To Lev Vladimirovich

I'm wasted...
I can't wrench out a line.

You just cannot but fall in love
with a man

with such great talent,
with such stubbornness,

and such tenderness and kindness

that Vladimir Vladimirovich

Mayakovsky wanted me
to make a film

to his script “How Are You Doing?”

But then I didn't know
how to do it.

I don't know it now.

At Mayakovsky's I met
the painter Rodchenko.

And Rodchenko designed the sets
to my film “The Journalist”,

in which Khokhlova
played the title role.

Khokhlova couldn't bring herself
to leave the editorial office.

It's very unpleasant for me
to be immodest.

But recently I saw some
sequences from “The Journalist”,

of which only
one reel has survived.

I liked it very much.

But the critics berated

“The Journalist”

and considered the film a failure.

I think that today
it would have been otherwise.

But then we had the NEP in the country
and the nepmen wanted entertainment.

They wanted to see
pretty girls on the screen.

And Khokhlova did not fit
into the nepmen's ideals,

she was thin and not pretty.

One has to be patient in art.


Eisenstein once said
that in our life

the truth would eventually triumph,

but often a lifetime is too short.

And it's not only so in our life.

When Lev Nikolayevich
published “War and Peace”,

there was such a verse

There's great noise and croak,
A mosquito fell from an oak.

And Dostoyevsky, too,
was received badly.

And not everybody gave all A's
to Eisenstein.

And Lev Vladimirovich
knows it very well.

He has to be patient.

Besides, Lev Vladimirovich
remembers it not quite correctly.

“By the Law” and Khokhlova
in the film “By the Law”

were received well.


Of course, the distributors
buy a film.

And the distributors want to have
a full house.

The distributors won't be patient.

The distributors won't be patient
not only with Khokhlova.

They are not happy
when they get the film

“Battleship Potemkin”.

And then people keep watching
“Battleship Potemkin” for years.

And at that point Kuleshov
could not hold out any longer.

He couldn't hold out in the battle
with the distributors.

And we were in for difficult years
to come.

Hard years.

But I would rather
not remember that now.

I'd better not.

I'll speak about the most important.

Sound came to the cinema.

We had to hold out.

Hold out against theatricality.

I didn't believe in filmed performances,

but I believed in the great
power of sound in cinema.

And with this belief, we began
making the film “Gorizont” (Horizon).

Leonid Obolensky was
our sound operator.

There were excellent actors
in the film - Nikolai Batalov

and Kara-Dmitriyev.

After “Gorizont”, I was again
given an opportunity to think.

I wasn't making films.

But one day, Aleksandr Lvovich
Kurs came to me

with a splendid idea,
which later was made into

the film “The Great Consoler”.

Banker Adams

ran off
with two million dollars.

The prosecutor's office looks
for ways to open a safe

containing some
important documents.

A great subject for a short story.

The Metamorphosis of...



Written by O. Henry.

The Elmore Bank
had just put in

a new safe and vault.

Mr. Adams was very proud of it,

and insisted on
an inspection by every one.

The banker sprang to the handle
and tugged at it for a moment.

The door can't be opened -

the clock hasn't been wound

nor the combination set!

The mother screamed hysterically.

“Hush,” whispered Mr. Adams,
raising his trembling hand.

Listen to me!

During the following silence
they could just hear the faint sound

of the child wildly shrieking in
the dark vault in a panic of terror.

“My precious darling!”
wailed the mother.

“She will die of fright!

Open the door!
Oh, break it open!

Can't you men
do something?!”

Can't you do
something, Ralph?

Try, won't you?

To a woman nothing seems quite
impossible to the powers of

the man she worships.

He looked at her

with a queer, soft smile on his lips

and in his keen eyes.

Annabel, give me that rose
you're wearing, will you...

Hardly believing that
she heard him aright,

Annabel unpinned the bud from her
dress and placed it in his hand.

Ralph Spencer passed away.

And Jimmy Valentine
took his place.

Get away from the door, all of you!

Jimmy is so wonderful!
What a wonderful writer!

The great consoler!

- Lies.
- No, not lies!

- That's how it should be.
- That's how it should be!

Let me go! Let me go!

I don't want to! I don't want!
I can't!

I don't want your
dinners, your presents.

Try to understand, you animal!

I've never known any happy work,

I've never heard any kind words,

I've never seen men
who don't buy women.

Get out!

I don't want dinners and presents!
You animal!

You think life is like
your consoler describes it?

No, Dulcie, it's not like this!
You'll see.


This is it, Valentine.

Get away from the door.

There you go, gentlemen.

May I?

You can go.

Sir, may I...

May I ask
when I am to be let free?


But I was... I was
promised a pardon, sir.




will I be able to write

what I know,

what I ought to.

“The Great Consoler”
is my most favorite film.

It was made 36 years ago.

But whenever I watch it,

it seems to me
I made it only yesterday.

And now I'm going to boast.

I was the first,

well, one of the first

car enthusiasts in the Soviet Union.

In 1927, I changed my motorcycle

for a Ford sports car.

And to this day,
I don't part with cars.

I participated in the Moscow -
Yaroslavl - Moscow race

and won the first prize.

Finally, I retraced the route of
the famous Kara-Kum run.

I drove from Moscow to Stalinabad

through Malye Kara-Kumy Desert.

All in all, I'm pleased
with my automobile career.

What else?

What else is memorable?

Valka, run home quick.

C'mon, let's go home.

Halts and bonfires,

and a dense forest,

the springtime croaking of frogs.

I tried to tell about all of this
in the location shots

of my film “The Siberians”.

I didn't know at the time

that hardly a year would pass

and it would be killed.

We were laughing,
pleased with our work.

Jokingly, we exchanged costumes.

We had great fun working

on the script of
“Commandant of the Snow Fortress”.

And there we are in Bolshevo again.

But everything is different.

The house is empty,
only three of us here,

he, Khokhlova and I.

We're writing the script of
“Timur's Oath”,

and at nighttime, alarming sirens

warn us about
the air raids on Moscow.

The last page.

With the famous signature.

A red star with rays

and a signature next to it -
Arkady Gaidar.

Three months later,

he was felled by a fascist bullet,

and fell silent for good.

Lev Vladimirovich,
on the night of Eisenstein's death

his letter to you

was left on his desk.

Tell us, please, about your meetings
with Sergey Mikhailovich.

I met Eisenstein

in the early 1920s
at Proletkult.

Eisenstein struck me
by his looks

and his charm.

Everybody knows
that he was a great man.

But I know

that this man
had a beautiful heart,

a kind, responsive,
truly golden heart.

Later we were inseparable with
Eisenstein, working at VGIK.

We headed a department.

What do you mean?

You know how it is in cinema?

He was criticized - I headed it,

I was criticized - he headed it.

And we created the first program
of teaching film directors.

VGIK (State Institute of
Cinematography) is one of the few,

and at any rate, the best

school that teaches
the art of cinema.

And Kuleshov and Eisenstein

were the founders of VGIK

and, at the same time, the founders
of the cinematic theory.

Young Eisenstein wrote:

“We make films,

Lev Vladimirovich
makes cinematography.”

Lev Vladimirovich has done
more than he thinks.

He hasn't perfected
the old cinema,

he has rethought it,
he has invented it anew.

And deeply inside,

the self-confident Kuleshov is modest,

because he has not
read all of himself yet.

I walk through the taiga, and sing:
Skies, skies, skies...

Now I'll guess your profession.

- No, not on your life.
- I will.

- You'll never guess it.
- A pilot!

Comrade captain,
you took my words too literally.

Too literally...

No, do it like this.
Too literally.

You took my thought
too literally, yes.

- A geologist?
- No.

A history teacher.
Ah, yes, really, it is...

No, turn away from him,
then you'll be in the frame.

- It's close.

Close, close, but...

A pimp, a pimp.
Damn, I didn't mean to say that.

I wanted to say...
What did I want to say?

A paratrooper.

- No?

Then I give up. I don't know, either.

Lev Vladimirovich, you've
always worked with young people,

and you've always taught the young.

What would you like
to say to them today,

when you turned 70?

What to say...

To say that you
turn 70 too soon.

That you can't lose time.

That you must work all the time,
work all the time,

give your whole life to work,

or you just won't make it.

And you must make it,

you must try to do
as much as possible,

because, I think, there is
no greater satisfaction

than making people
happy with your work.

I've seen happy people.

There were many of them
among my students.

When the First Congress of
Filmmakers was being opened,

the right to open it

was granted to
Lev Vladimirovich Kuleshov.

At that point,

I took advantage of
my loud voice,

and shouted from the auditorium:
“At last I'm seeing Lev Kuleshov

in his rightful place.”

The End