The outstanding common factor of most of the programme is its sheer innovation, epitomised by Sergei Eisenstein, whose silent classics Battleship Potemkin and October (right) are taught in film studies classes as a text-book lesson in the power of editing. It was here that Eisenstein perfected his "montage of attractions" technique, using images like bombs dropped in quick succession to stun the viewer.
In his lifetime, Eisenstein was a controversial figure. Like Bunuel, who would be similarly spurned by his mother country, Eisenstein never found (or sought, for that matter) government approval.
He was, by all accounts, an aloof, distant figure. When Bunuel met him at Charlie Chaplin's house at the end of the 1920s, he barely gave the Spaniard a second glance. The Russian despised Bunuel's work - he believed it revealed "the disintegration of bourgeois consciousness". Such a pity he was so smitten with tennis; a collaboration between the two would have been laced with the precise kind of creative tension that Eisenstein thrived on - politics versus aesthetics.
The Soviet Classics season runs from 4-29 Jan at the ICA, The Mall, SW1 (071-930 3647)Reuse content