October and the question of cinematic thinking

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Introduction: Eisenstein’s experiments with intellectual montage – the use of montage techniques to do intellectual work – might seem like no more than an episode in the history of Soviet montage. However, they have a greater significance than this, especially in the context of contemporary interest in the nature of cinematic thinking. Examining the philosophical nature of intellectual montage as Eisenstein practices it, and reflects upon it, promises to shed light on the concept of cinematic thinking. In this paper, I attempt to make good on this promise. I do so through an examination of Eisenstein’s use of montage in the 1928 film October. October contains Eisenstein’s most celebrated attempts at intellectual montage. The idea of cinematic thinking first needs some clarification. “Thinking” is an ambiguous term and can mean anything from the structured development of a set of propositions to the largely unordered and non-propositional contemplation of a person or a thing. For the purposes of this paper, I am going to stipulate something narrower than this range of phenomena. Thinking is a special kind of experience: one that has representational content and one that is cognitively engaging. To say that thinking is cognitively engaging is to say that others can follow it well enough to appreciate or criticize its cognitive features. Thinking always invites more thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalScreening the Past
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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