Katalin Timár

Miklós Erdély: A Hunger for Montage /1966/

Miklós Erdély, one of the most important Hungarian artists after World War 2, did not only produce experimental films, but within the framework of his manifold activities wrote an important theoretical essay about montage already in the mid 1960s. My paper aims at discussing this essay’s ramifications ideas of montage and filmic language (a semiotics of film?) and also Erdély’s theoretical stance in the face of this artistic means, as a crucial and historical strategical tool against cinematic illusionism. This implicitly raises the semiotic question of the basic meaning making unit of film and the limited instrumentality of the linguistic metaphor’s extension to the area of the moving images. In the essay, however, Erdély, dismisses the political and critical potentialities of montage, formulated by the Russian film-maker Sergei Eisenstein and the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. It seems that this blind spot is the result of the political circumstances of the time that made impossible for Erdély to make theoretical claims either about the promotion of the proletarian revolution (Eisenstein), or the critique of the commodity fetish (Benjamin).