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Furthermore, Salazkina's work convincingly demonstrates that although Eisenstein includes women characters in his film, he does not create them as subjects. Salazkina examines the way in which Eisenstein combines the premodern the primitive, pre-Columbian cultures with the ultramodern the shock of modernization, movement, industrial technology. In particular, she looks at the tension generated by their interaction. The structure of the book, however, does not contribute to Salazkina's overall clever, well-sustained analysis.

In Excess: Sergei Eisenstein's Mexico (Cinema and Modernity) by Masha Salazkina

She explains that her four chapters Prologue, Sandunga, Fiesta Maguey, and Epilogue follow Eisenstein's film script, since the sequential order of the novellas was important for Eisenstein's theoretical work. While this claim may be true, the order misleads the reader into thinking that the author is attempting an interpretation of Eisenstein's work, and not an exploration of Eisenstein's cultural field. And most importantly, it undermines her insightful goal of illustrating the unresolved tension between the ultramodern and the premodern.


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The script's sequential order suggests the idea of progression and resolution, whereas Salazkina's overarching project is to stress unresolved tension, not resolution. One aspect that deserves special attention is Salazkina's approach to the tension in Eisenstein's project through an examination of the sensorial experience of the body of the spectator.

Tony Wood reviews ‘In Excess’ by Masha Salazkina · LRB 3 December

Salazkina defends the position that tension surfaces in the film as excess specifically related to the baroque aesthetic. The baroque, on the one hand, comes from Eisenstein's preference for the overdone, and, on the other, from his use of Mexican architecture. The combination of the two results in a film that directly affects the senses of the spectator, and not just the intellect.

Salazkina claims that "the very excess evident in!

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For Salazkina, excess can also mean waste. Taken in this sense, Salazkina finds support for her claim about Eisenstein's excess in Upton Sinclair's accusation that there were "thousands of feet of pure wasted film" p. I remain unpersuaded that Eisenstein practiced an excess manifested in his waste of film and resources.

My desperate longing to see this in reality was like a chronic sickness.

Cinema and Modernity

In December , Eisenstein crossed the US-Mexican border to begin work on a film which, rather than curing his sickness, turned into a grandiose, heartbreaking failure. There followed years of acrimonious wrangling over the miles of film he had shot. By the time Eisenstein died in , other filmmakers had carved two features and several shorts out of his footage, but he himself had been unable to edit the film as he wished.


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The idea of making a film in Mexico came after a period of frustration and failure in Hollywood. Eisenstein had left the Soviet Union in late , along with his assistant Grigory Alexandrov and cameraman Eduard Tisse, having received official permission to travel to the West for a year to study the techniques of sound film.

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In Europe, they were well received in leftist intellectual and artistic circles, but made far less welcome by officialdom: Rather than return home, however, in April Eisenstein signed a six-month contract with Paramount; he and his team sailed for the US the following month. What we should like would be for him to do something of the same kind, but rather cheaper, for Ronald Colman.


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  4. In the USSR, things had been very different: Facing the prospect of an ignominious return to Moscow, he began to explore the possibility of making a film about Mexico.