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This article aims to revisit the film theory of the Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein through an experiential viewpoint. Eisenstein’s theory has come to be regarded as conceptual and formal; however, in reality, all his theoretical concepts are introduced from bodily sensation. In the context of this worldview, this article focuses on the foundations of his aesthetics, particularly his “perception of motion.”
To Eisenstein, who began his career in theater, each and every experience, even if it is a mediated experience, cannot be separated from the audience’s perception. He connected this cognitive premise to his unique dialectic speculation that the leap from individual experience to“sensual thought”would occur through the“perception of motion.” As a result, he examined mediated perceptions such as film and animation by constantly comparing his observations of the bodily movements of different actors. Here, Hatakeyama traces the philosophical and aesthetic meaning of internal sensation, which Eisenstein attributed to the experience of movement, as well as the influence it had on his film theory.
In doing so, Hatakeyama’s article references the comprehensive media history developed in recent years by Hiroki Azuma, as well as the concept of the “predicate” developed by Kitaro Nishida, a philosopher of the Kyoto School who was active during the same time as Eisenstein. Viewing Eisenstein through the lens of Japanese philosophy and criticism reveals a new facet of his thought, which was previously divided into the two extremes of a universal “theory” and “Russianness,” and places it in a more global context.