This historic collective “Statement on Sound”, initiated and composed by Eisenstein and endorsed by the other two prominent Soviet filmmakers (Pudovkin and Alexandrov), first appeared in 1928. The ”Statement” opens up with an acknowledgement that the progress in the technical development of Soviet sound-film was slow, but it nevertheless proceeds to lay out some theoretical principles about the relationship of sound to the visual images. It reiterates the basic standpoint of early Soviet filmmakers about cinema as a separate and distinct form of art from the theatre and then goes on to suggest that sound movies should follow a continuous line of development out of the silent cinema. The trio emphasized the need to develop a sound montage “along the line of its distinct non-synchronization with the visual images”, and through a metaphor of music, asserted that “only a contrapuntal use of sound in relation to the visual montage piece” will afford new possibilities for montage development and perfection, eventually creating “an orchestral counterpoint of visual and aural images” (258). In Eisenstein’s words, this contrapuntal method of constructing the sound-film had a potential to bring the significance of the international cinema to an unprecedented power and cultural height.
Evaluation & Analysis:
Because the “Statement” was written before the arrival of sound to the Soviet Union, this document, by placing the problem within a larger context, is crucial for understanding Eisenstein’s theory of sound cinema. The theoretical standards laid out here are essential in creating a framework for analytical assessment of the interplay between the audio and visual forms in Eisenstein’s first sound movie Alexander Nevsky and they will be also useful in the investigation of the Eisenstein-Prokofiev collaboration. The Eisenstein-Pudovkin-Alexandrov manifesto advocates an organic unity of sound cinema - a conflux of audio and visual forms, where the sound is intentionally non-synchronized with the visual images. The preferred contrapuntal use of sound would effectively reduce the role of language in the sound cinema and consequently prevent commercial exploitation of the “talking movies”. According to Eisenstein, cinema was supposed to be first and foremost an international language and he was concerned that language-based cinema markets would undermine the international prominence enjoyed by the Soviet cinema at the time. In other words, in the “Statement”, Eisenstein sought to extend the fundamentals of silent cinema into sound cinema and Alexander Nevsky could be therefore regarded as the first test of his own theories.