Robert Robertson’s lectures at the BFI

Robert Robertson talks a bit about his lectures here on his blog-I am really moved to be on this list of directors he discussed-I also have his notes on the Dream film below. Robert’s analysis, enthusiasm, and overall knowledge of his subject area is peerless in my humble opinion. I would recommend purchasing his book if you are interested in Eisenstein, cinema, and the act of creation… from Robert Robertson:”

…This concentration on a single element is also characteristic of dreams. You get it in the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. Eisenstein mentions Poe’s startling impression of a giant insect climbing a mountain, which he sees when he looks up out of his window. Then he realises that he is seeing the insect on the window itself. The creature looks enormous in comparison to the mountain in the distance. This confusion of foreground and background is fascinating for Eisenstein, as it’s an interesting example of montage within the shot.
This type of spatial distortion is used in this film by the American filmmaker and sound artist Chris Lynn. It’s an evocation of a famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe: Dream Within a Dream, which has the line: “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
5. Chris Lynn: Reading Dream Within a Dream.
But what is happening audiovisually here?
It’s a form of audiovisual counterpoint: the sound is a recording of a public library in Alençon, an echoing space. Alençon is where Baudelaire at last found a publisher for Les fleurs du mal, the Flowers of Evil collection of his poems. And he made Poe’s work known to continental Europe through his translations of it into French.
There’s a similarity in this film by Lynn with Sokurov’s use of sound in that extract we experienced last week, from his Mother and Son. In Lynn’s film the library sounds don’t immediately fit with the images we see (in fact they are thousands of miles apart) so this creates an extra dimension of meaning. It’s a quality that is fundamental in cinema: it lies at the root of editing, and various kinds of montage.
Eisenstein, when he was learning about cinema, attended Kuleshov’s Film Workshop for three months, during the winter of 1922/23. What came to be known as the ‘Kuleshov Effect’ is at the heart of how cinema works. [Kuleshov Effect Washington/Moscow anecdote].
Here Chris Lynn is using an audiovisual Kuleshov Effect, the discrepancies between sound and image force us to try to make a connection between them, and so they create a dreamlike sensation. This confusing quality is analogous to Lynn’s montage within the shot, like Poe, blending the foreground with the background: water on the windowpane and the tree outside, creating spatial distortions in motion.”

Robert’s book can be puchased here