Date of Thesis



In my thesis, I analyze the development of the most often forgotten work by Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein ¿ The Old and the New. The production of the film from 1926 to 1929 was during a tumultuous period of economic transition during the Soviet Union when the socialist state moved from the mixed markets of the New Economic Policy (NEP) to the centralized planning of the First Five-Year Plan. The development of The Old and the New mirrors the economic period. I analyze how Eisenstein actively adapted his cinematic practice to accommodate the changing landscape of Soviet economic policy. Additionally, I explore the influence that Eisenstein's work on an uncompleted film adaptation of Karl Marx's Capital had on the development of his theories of montage and his completion of The Old and the New. I argue that Eisenstein's theories of montage were transformed by his studying of Marx's dialectical method, and, as a result, his completed version of The Old and the New differs significantly from its original conception as The General Line. Finally, I evaluate the ways in which Eisenstein sought to inspire economic development. From this I develop my theory of "the ecstasy of economics." Epitomized by the most famous scene of the film "the cream separator scene," Eisenstein works to infuse a sense of fervor around the idea of collectivization and development. The protagonist Marfa experiences a moment of pure bliss, while kneeling before the cream separator, which not only inspires her to transform her village, but strives to provoke the whole of the Soviet Union toward the same "ecstasy of economics" that Eisenstein envisioned.


Sergei Eisenstein, NEP, First Five-Year Plan, The General Line, The Old and the New, Karl Marx

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Nicholas Kupensky

Second Advisor

Jan Knoedler