In his writings, Eisenstein outlined the varying types of montage – five kinds in all. The most important, in his eyes, was intellectual montage – a method of placing images together in a way to evoke intellectual concepts. He was inspired by how Japanese and Chinese can create abstract ideas from concrete pictograms. For example, the Japanese symbol for tree is 木. One character for wall is 囗. Put the two together, 困, and you have the character for trouble, because having a tree in your wall is certainly a huge pain in the ass. You can see an example of intellectual montage in the end of the Odessa steps sequence when a stone lion seemingly rises to his feet.
French philosophy has played an outstanding role in the development of a philosophy of film. Henri Bergson was the first philosopher who adopted film as a conceptual model for philosophical thought. Cinema helped him to imagine the distinction between spatialized time and duration, an idea that would remain essential for his entire philosophy. Though Bergson’s ideas bear no relation with the more contemporary language-based models of reason (and his interpreter Gilles Deleuze never used them in that way), Bergson’s thought fused with the remaining field of French philosophy of cinema in an often paradoxical fashion. Though French philosophy of film is composed of diverse elements, French or even continental philosophy of film can appear as amazingly coherent. Deleuze’s Bergsonian concept of the “time-image,” for example, is very much compatible with ideas elaborated by the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky who derived his insights not from Bergson, but from a critical evaluation of Russian formalist film theory.
In " 12 Years a Slave " there's a marvelous crane shot that starts looking through the window of a jail cell where the hero has been chained, then rises slowly up, over the rooftop, to reveal the city skyline, and in the background, the . Capitol. This shot is saying something, and it's saying it with images: the horror of slavery unfolded in the shadow of the very institution that gave America the laws she supposedly held dear. (And here's a lovely and chilling grace note that a critic friend just pointed out to me: in the shot, the Capitol dome is unfinished.)