Born: : 1 January 1899, Tambov, Russian Empire (now Russia)
Died: 30 March 1970, Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia)
Lev Vladimirovich Kuleshov studied art at the Moscow School of Painting, Architecture and Sculpture as a 15 years old. Afterwards, he worked as an illustrator for a fashion magazine and later he was employed at a Moscow film studio as a set designer, occasionally acting in its productions. Inspired by the German Expressionism, he made his directorial debut with the Project of Engineer Prite (1918) when only 18 years old. The film was considered among Russia's most sophisticated early films.
During the Russian Revolution Kuleshov documented the war on the Eastern front in documentary On the Red Front (1920). Around that time, deeply impressed by the works of American directors Mack Sennett and D.W. Griffith, he started to devise his montage theory, later name Kuleshov effect. As an instructor at the First National Film School in Moscow, an institution Kuleshov helped found in 1919, he introduced his theories in editing and montage to his students and future soviet film greats as S. Eisenstein and V. Pudovkin. At the same school he collaborated with group of his students on several now generally regarded as seminal films in Russian Cinema. Among them also The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924), a clever satire on Russian politics, something that was not accepted very well by the authorities. His next film Death Ray (1925) met with authorities disapproval for not containing enough propaganda. Kuleshov’s problems with government empowered after his next film By the Law (1926), a psycho-drama based on a Jack London story. After this movie the government entirely withdrew the fundings for next Kuleshov’s film. Kuleshov decided to leave filmmaking in favor of becoming a full-time theorist and an instructor in the film school by 1933. One of his most important books remains Fundamentals of Film Direction.
During the World War II, soviet government allowed him to make films again and Kuleshov became the head of the Moscow Film Institute in 1944. His early work was only re-discovered in 1960s by Jay Leyda, founder of the film journal Kino and the rediscovery allowed Kuleshov to travel to the West as part of film festival juries and lecture during showing of his films.
Source : www.seagullfilms.com
En 1922, Koulechov réalise une expérience : il juxtapose l’image d’un visage neutre (celui de l’acteur russe Ivan Mosjoukine) avec trois plans successifs, chacun faisant naitre un sentiment différent : l’appétit, la tristesse et le désir. Directeur de l’école de cinéma de Moscou dans les années 20, il montre, images à l’appui, que les plans cinématographiques ne sont pas étanches : dans son expérience, un même plan « face caméra » sera interprété différemment par le spectateur selon que le visage est suivi de l’image d’une assiette de soupe, d’un cadavre, ou d’une femme dévêtue.