Einstein’s Exaggerated Connection

Reading Einstein’s piece was an extremely frustrating activity for me. I felt as if he was repeating the same point over and over again, without ever really making any earth-shattering revelations.  Dickens’ literature impacted the way Griffith created films.  Griffith’s dual representation of America in his films mirrors Dickens’ descriptions of “Small-Town America, and Super-Dynamic America” (198). Griffith bluntly admitted that he drew inspiration from Dickens, comparing his work to Dickens’ by stating, “these are picture stories, not so different” (201).  Einstein establishes this connection, and then moves forward to discuss montage.  Montage.  Montage.  Montage.  I understand the importance of montage in films – it created an entire new style for directors to embrace (though first heavily criticized).  However, I am still left wondering – what’s the deeper point here?  Dickens inspired the montage, which Einstein takes credit for… and?

Just to further my point on how there is no deeper point in Einstein’s article, I want to call attention to the tidbit of information offered here: “It is characteristic for both Dickens and Griffith to have these sudden flashes of goodness in ‘morally degraded’ characters” (221).  When I read this, I actually stopped and asked myself if this was not the case for most authors and screen writers?  Why is this “connection” coming as a surprise for Einstein?  Again, I just don’t understand…

I cannot really think of a question to pose, but I do challenge Einstein’s bold statement about the success of films.  He imagines that “the immense popular success of Dickens’ novels in his own time can be equaled in extent only by that whirlwind success which is now enjoyed by this or that sensational film success” (208).  However, I think this idea is not fully supported by the ongoing reaction to new films and new literature.  Are there not newly released books that still render more excitement than that of a newly released film?  Doesn’t our generation still value literature with feelings of excitement and joy?  I am not a person who dislikes film, but seriously, I think Einstein is taking this a little too far.

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4 Responses to Einstein’s Exaggerated Connection

  1. Sara Tener says:

    I also had a problem coming up with a question to pose about the Eisenstein article. I felt that what he was showing us was that film can be an ideological tool that is socially situated in the historical-political environment in which it emerges. Though the article was dated 1944, I read that Eisenstein worked on it during 1941 when the Soviets had formed a troubled union with the United States in order to combat the Nazis. It seems that they were at least willing to acknowlege that they were indebted to Griffiths montage, but at the same time, they needed to maintain their distance from capitalists. Soviet Russia was not the picture of unity and diversity that Eisenstien would like one to see in their films. One only has to think of Stalin and his purges, of not only his enemies but enclaves and different ethnic groups within the Soviet border, to sense this. In any case, film was a favorite propoganda tool among most major nations involved in World War II.

  2. Melissa M says:

    I for one did not find this article to be my favorite by any means. I do think it is rather interesting the questions you pose though. I personally am dealing with younger generations in an English High school class setting. I’m not trying to answer your questions, but simply give my observations on these current generations. I believe literature is still very much valued, but it’s a different type of value. Our generation fell in love with books, not series. In a high school classroom, the teachers are just begging students to read, and so they are forced to read books such as the Hunger Games. I wanted to use this book as an example because I believe the Hunger Games series had much more hype than the film. People were so excited after reading the first, that most people I know read all three even before the movie. Whether I consider this a good choice of literature is a whole different topic.

  3. Dana Choit says:

    In response to the “sudden flashes of goodness in ‘morally degraded’ characters” (221), I think there is probably plenty of examples of ‘the evil character”. We are meant to dislike them, and we do, for all of their actions, behaviors, etc. I definitely agree that a lot authors, screenwriters, etc. include “the bad guys” to have such “flashes” because that’s what helps to further draw in the audience. When that evil character is purely evil you know who to root for the entire time, but when you see those “flashes” you gain sympathy or understanding, or are simply more intrigued and interested.

    As Melissa mentioned The Hunger Games phenomena and the book vs. the film- I agree that there was an intense excitement surrounding the book that rivaled the film, but I wonder if this came about more recently because of the film adaptation premiere. Perhaps, everyone was trying to “jump on the bandwagon” and read the series in preparation for the film release?

  4. I found this idea to be very interesting in the way this writing is opened. “Dickens’ literature impacted the way Griffith created films.” Previously, film and literature were almost kept segregated as two fields, with only comparing terms crossing over; however, here the relationship is much more direct, and much more potent. There is an interdependency presented in this interpretation of the text, which displays that film and literature are byproducts of one another and each has an effect on one another (here literature has more of an effect than film).

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