Beyond the Stars, Part 1
Edited by Richard Taylor
Few figures in cinema history are as towering as Russian filmmaker and theorist Sergei Mikhailovitch Eisenstein (1898–1948). Not only did Eisenstein direct some of the most important and lasting works of the silent era, including Strike, October and Battleship Potemkin, as well as, in the sound era, the historical epics Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible, he was also a theorist whose insights into the workings of film were so powerful that they remain influential for both filmmakers and scholars today.
A fascinating memoir in two volumes, Beyond the Stars—first published by Seagull in 1995 and now available again—was begun as Eisenstein approached the age of 50. Full of the famous names of his era, including Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, John Dos Passos, Jean Cocteau, Walt Disney and many more, it is a serious book of inquiry about film as a medium, offering countless reflections by Eisenstein on his own work and that of other movie pioneers.
‘The production of the memoirs is in itself a work of pure montage, to the extent that the compilation is purely the result of an elaborate editing process by multiple editors and translators—and biographers too, we might say—in a loosely intertextual way. The assemblage is highly successful to the extent that we don’t readily see where the cuts and splices lie and an effective suturing serves to reanimate the subject of the writing and the endless energies of the text, pulsating from one fragment to another. Eisenstein thus seems more alive to us than ever in the infinite potential of the assembled textual particles, and we can now focus more fully on the totality of the work—cinema, theatre, drawing, writing—as well as the originality of the main theoretical texts, Method and Non Indifferent Nature, which are illuminated at every step by the Memoirs.’—Helen Grace, Apparatus. Read the fascinating story of this memoir, including the story of the Seagull edition, here.
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