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Kuleshov, Lev

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.


  • Collection of Films for the Armed Forces #13 / Boyevoy kinosbornik 13, 1943
  • We from the Urals / My s Urala, 1943
  • Timour's Oath / Klyatva Timura, 1942; (also as editor)
  • Incident in a Volcano / Sluchay v vulkane, 1941
  • Siberians / Sibiryaki, 1940; (also as editor)
  • Dokhunda, 1934;
  • The Great Consoler / Velikiy uteshitel, 1933; (also as art director and scriptwriter)
  • Horizon / Gorizont, 1932; (also as scriptwriter)
  • Forty Hearts / Sorokserdets, 1931;
  • Two-Buldi-Two / Dva-Buldi-dva, 1929
  • The Happy Canary / Vesyolaya kanareyka, 1929; (also as editor)
  • Your Acquaintance / Vasha znakomaya, 1927; (also as editor)
  • Locomotive No. 10006 / Parovoz No. 10006, 1926;
  • By the Law / Po zakonu, 1926; (also as scriptwriter)
  • The Death Ray / Luch smerti, 1925;
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks / Neobychainye priklyucheniya mistera Vesta v strane bolshevikov, 1924
  • On the Red Front / Na krasnom fronte, 1920; (also as scriptwriter)
  • Pesn lyubvi nedopetaya, 1918;
  • The Project of Engineer Prite / Proekt inzhenera Prayta, 1918; (also as art director and editor)