The Kuleshov Effect and How Spielberg Masters It

If you haven't heard of Kuleshov's Effect you are not alone. However, once you understand it you will start noticing it in many directors' films especially those by Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg.

About 100 years ago a Russian director named Lev Kuleshov introduced a technique that opened new worlds for the early filmmakers. In a short example, Kuleshov showed a man looking at the camera and then cutting to a certain situation. This is shown with three different examples which makes the viewer make quite a different decision on what the man's thoughts and emotional conditions were entirely based on the information in the cutaways. According to Kuleshov, cutting was far more superior for the audience manipulation than the actors' performance. This effect is very well portrayed in this famous Hitchcock example:

Although Hitchcock frequently uses a point-of-view (POV) shot, which can be closely related to the original Kuleshov's example, Spielberg elevated the technique by often skipping the true POV and instead emphasizing on the actor's reaction as if the time was standing still. This is masterfully crafted by his famous dolly-move camera technique to make the viewer sink into the character's soul and look deeply into their thoughts and emotions.

To find more great examples of that impactful filmmaking technique, head over to StudioBinder's blog post and continue reading.

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8 Comments

Francois Vendiol's picture

Learned it a few years back as the "A-B-A cut"
Let's say A is your character and B a point of interest, the second time A appears has to give an information about how B affected A.

Great article

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Yes, it's a powerful technique.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

You misspelled Steven’s last name.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Where is it misspelled?

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Nowhere since it was corrected. You’re welcome.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

It seems someone else from the staff has corrected whatever was misspelled.

Pedro Pulido's picture

this is brilliant. thanks for sharing!

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

You're welcome. It was quite interesting to me too.