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Lev Kuleshov

Lev Kuleshov

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Also Known As: Died: March 29, 1970
Born: January 14, 1899 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Tambov, Russia Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Undeservedly overlooked by film historians, Lev Kuleshov was the first theorist of Soviet cinema whose experiments with juxtaposing the face of an actor and various other images revealed the impact of montage. Pudovkin and Eisenstein have often been credited with this discovery, although their own testimony shows they credited Kuleshov, who was their teacher.In 1917, just before the Revolution, the 18-year-old Kuleshov made his first short film, "The Project of Engineer Prite," and published his first articles which reflected an expressionistic vision, comparable to that of German filmmakers, and exceptionally advanced for the relatively primitive state of Russian cinema. His radical aesthetics suited the leaders of the Revolution and he was dispatched to lead a corps of cameramen on the eastern front.In peacetime Moscow, Kuleshov joined the faculty of the First State Film School, only to be sent to the western front to document a Polish uprising. These experiences informed "On the Red Front" (1920), but the style of the film owed a great deal to American chase films and D.W. Griffith, whose "Intolerance" exerted a strong influence on Kuleshov and his teaching. These American enthusiasms would...

Undeservedly overlooked by film historians, Lev Kuleshov was the first theorist of Soviet cinema whose experiments with juxtaposing the face of an actor and various other images revealed the impact of montage. Pudovkin and Eisenstein have often been credited with this discovery, although their own testimony shows they credited Kuleshov, who was their teacher.

In 1917, just before the Revolution, the 18-year-old Kuleshov made his first short film, "The Project of Engineer Prite," and published his first articles which reflected an expressionistic vision, comparable to that of German filmmakers, and exceptionally advanced for the relatively primitive state of Russian cinema. His radical aesthetics suited the leaders of the Revolution and he was dispatched to lead a corps of cameramen on the eastern front.

In peacetime Moscow, Kuleshov joined the faculty of the First State Film School, only to be sent to the western front to document a Polish uprising. These experiences informed "On the Red Front" (1920), but the style of the film owed a great deal to American chase films and D.W. Griffith, whose "Intolerance" exerted a strong influence on Kuleshov and his teaching. These American enthusiasms would eventually cause Kuleshov political problems, particularly after "By the Law" (1926), adapted from a Jack London story about the Klondike gold rush.

Meanwhile, however, Kuleshov's famous "films without film" workshops, held from 1920 to 1923, prepared filmmakers for the days when they could obtain raw stock to put in their empty cameras. Kuleshov's next important work was "The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks" (1924), a comedy about an American confused and exploited by Revolutionaries. A steady output of films, "The Death Ray" (1925), "By the Law," "The Journalist" (1927), "The Gay Canary" (1929), "Two-Buldi-Two" (1929) and "Forty Hearts" (1931), paralleled his career as a gifted teacher, but his increasing emphasis on internationalism made him a target of Stalinists in the 30s and his filmmaking career was temporarily halted in 1933.

In 1940, he was allowed to make "The Siberians," followed by "Incident on a Volcano" (1941), "Timour's Oath" (1942) and "We From the Urals" (1944), but these were films with no particular appeal beyond the USSR. Kuleshov's considerable importance to Soviet filmmaking, including the publication of his classic textbook on direction ("Fundamentals of Film Direction," 1941) was not acknowledged until 1960, when film historian Jay Leyda published "Kino," a reassessment of Soviet film history. With his significance now recognized even in the West, Kuleshov was invited to sit on juries of film festivals and attend retrospectives of his work.

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DIRECTOR:

1.
  Dohunda (1934) Director
2.
  Velikii uteshitel (1933) Director
3.
  Gorizont (1932) Director
4.
  Sorokserdets (1931) Director
5.
  Dva-buldi-dva (1930) Director
6.
  Veselaia kanaraika (1929) Director
8.
9.
  Po zakonu (1926) Director
10.
  Luch smerti (1925) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Luch smerti (1925) Porter
2.
4.
 Za schastem (1917)
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Family close complete family listing

brother:
Boris Kuleshov. Younger brother who died 1943 and who appeared in and wrote Lev Kuleshov's first film.

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