Sergei Eisenstein Biography

Sergei Eisenstein, a renowned Soviet filmmaker and film theorist, was a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage. Born in Riga, Latvia, Eisenstein initially pursued a career in the plastic arts before discovering his passion for filmmaking. Inspired by the Kabuki theatre of Japan, he went on to create numerous influential movies such as “Battleship Potemkin” and “Alexander Nevsky”. Throughout his career, Eisenstein received several honors, including the Stalin Prize and the Order of Lenin.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein
  • Died At Age: 50
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Pera Atasheva
    • Father: Mikhail Eisenstein
    • Mother: Julia Eisenstein
  • Born Country: Latvia
  • Directors
  • Russian Men
  • Height: 5’7″ (170 cm), 5’7″ Males
  • Died on: February 11, 1948
  • Place of death: Moscow, Russia
  • Ancestry: Ukrainian Russian, Swedish Russian
  • Cause of Death: Heart Attack
  • More Facts
  • Awards: Order of Lenin, Order of the Badge of Honour

Childhood & Early Life

Sergei Eisenstein was born on 22 January 1898, to a middle-class family in Riga, Latvia which was a part of the Russian empire. His father was a well-known architect named Mikhail Eisenstein. His mothers name was Julia Ivanovna Konetskaya. His parents divorced around the time he became a teenager. Though he was brought up by his parents as an Orthodox Christian, he later chose to become an atheist. He studied architecture and engineering at the Petrograd Institute of Civil Engineering, as he initially wanted to follow his fathers profession. Later, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in the plastic arts instead, and therefore enrolled at the School of Fine Arts. When the Russian Revolution of 1917 broke out, he enlisted and served in the Red Army for some time. In 1920, when Sergei Eisenstein was working in the Proletkult Theatre, as an assistant decorator, he developed an interest in the Kabuki theatre of Japan, which inspired him to become a filmmaker.

Career

His first short film Glumovs Diary’ was released in 1923. In 1925, he released his first feature film Strike. It was a silent film depicting a strike in 1903, by workers of a factory in pre-revolutionary Russia, and how they faced suppression. The same year, he also directed Battleship Potemkin’, another silent film, which presented a dramatized version of a mutiny that occurred in Russia, when the crew of a battleship named Potemkin started a rebellion against their senior officers. Modern critics have heavily praised the film, and it was listed in a poll by the magazine Sight & Sound as the 11th best film of all time. His next work was ‘October’ also known as ‘Ten Days That Shook the World’, a silent historical film which was released in 1928. It was a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution. He had three releases in the following year, which includedThe Storming of La Sarraz’, The General Line’, andWomens Misery- Womens Happiness’. In April 1930, he was offered an opportunity to make a film in the US, by Paramount Pictures. However, he supported the communist ideology, but Major Frank Pease, president of Hollywood Technical Directors Institute was a staunch anticommunist. Therefore, it didn’t work out between them, and he had to return back to Russia. Sergei Eisenstein directed the French film ‘Romance sentimentale’, which was released in 1930. The next year, he directed ‘El Desastre en Oaxaca’, a Mexican film. In 1932, he directed and released the film ‘Que Viva Mexico!’, which was a portrayal of Mexican culture and politics from pre-Conquest civilization to the Mexican revolution. He next directed ‘Bezhin Meadow’, which released in 1937. It was about a young farm boy whose father tries to betray the government due to political reasons, and sabotages the years harvest. The son tries to stop his fathers efforts in order to protect the Soviet State. The film gained a lot of controversy and criticism. His next film wasAlexander Nevsky, which released in 1938. ‘Ivan the Terrible- Part I’ and ‘Ivan the Terrible- Part II’, released in 1944, and 1945, were the two last films of Sergeis career.

Major Works

Battleship Potemkin is undoubtedly one of Sergei Eisensteins best works. It was a silent film released in 1925. It was about a mutiny that occurred in 1905, when the crew of a battleship named Potemkin revolted against the officers. The film has gained huge popularity and appreciation over the years. At the Brussels Worlds Fair in 1958, it was named as the greatest film of all time. Years later in 2012, the British film institute named it the eleventh greatest film of all time. Another important film in his career is the biopic `Alexander Nevsky’. The film, which released in 1938, was appreciated by the Soviets as well as the West. It won Eisenstein the Order of Lenin as well as the Stalin Prize. The film was about some of the important events in the life of Prince Alexander, also known as Alexander Nevsky.

Family & Personal Life

Sergei Eisenstein was married to Pera Atasheva. She was also a filmmaker and screenwriter. There were rumors that Eisenstein was a homosexual, though it was never confirmed as he never admitted it publicly. He died of a heart attack on 11th February 1948. He was fifty at the time of his death. His body was cremated on 13th February and his ashes were buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.

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