Here’s a very simple illustration of montage from La Chinoise (1967):

chinoise montage

Léaud is talking to the camera. He is looking down, and when he lifts his eyes, the shot cuts to Wiazemsky, sitting still and looking at the camera, then another cut returns us to Léaud looking down.

Then back to Wiazemsky, looking to the left, who starts to turn right—then the movement is cut and resumed by Léaud, who finishes turning all the way right.

The logic of the sequence is perfectly clear: static alternation is combined with dynamic continuity.


The sequence continues as Léaud proceeds with his monologue, cut together with an array of photos (Brecht, Shakespeare, Mayakovsky) and reverse-shot interplay with the cameraman and sound technician. It’s an extended textbook demonstration of elementary montage technique. (We will leave aside the question of whether it is also a textbook example of  Brechtian Verfremdung and/or Lacanian suture.)


I’ve arranged each short sequence as if it were a line of poetry on a page: in this way, it becomes possible to see the rhythms and accenting of the sequence at a glance. Each line has its own montage “device.” (Note what happens in the fourth line: Léaud’s face is suddenly lit up, as if from a flashbulb. You don’t have to stop the shot to give it a shock.)