Show lot of things happenin' at once
Remind everyone what's goin' on.
And with every shot show a little improvement
To show it all would take too long.
A montage (literally "putting together") is a form consisting of a series of short shots which are edited into a coherent sequence. Or at least coherence was intended.
Note that it takes more than a lack of dialogue and some overlaid music to be a montage. Montage is generally considered to be the opposite
of Continuity Editing
, so discontinuity is key. If the shots are short, but one flows into the next in real time, it's not
a montage, it's just a tense scene.
Not to be confused with a Motif
, although a motif may crop up here if a certain type of image is repeated. See also Scenes
- Special mention: Homestar Runner spoofed these in the Strong Bad email "montage". After a fan asked him if he could "creat a montage" (sic), Strong Bad did four montages, all involving a "wagon fulla pancakes". One had Strong Bad and the wagon just hanging out, another had Strong Bad falling in love with the Wagon Fulla Pancakes, the third had The Cheat and the Wagon Fulla Pancakes as "down-on-their-luck door-to-door salesmen", and the last one was a Training Montage with the Wagon Fulla Pancakes "training for the champeenship" and besting Homestar. And to top it all off, he did an end credits Photo Montage, complete with captions out of a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
- The biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is rife with these: a Time-Compression Montage charting his rise to U.K. film stardom, a Falling in Love Montage for his courtship of Britt Ekland, a Madness Montage when she leaves him that becomes a Time-Compression Montage (the film moves from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s), a Happier Home Movie sequence, and finally an Anger Montage (burning his old film memorabilia) intercut with a version of Writer's Block Montage (trying to find the character of Chance the Gardener). Whew!
- Sergei Eisenstein, if he didn't invent the montage at least perfected it. One particular sequence, in October (also known as Ten Days the Shook the World), 1928, there is a sequence where single frames of the muzzle of a machine gun and of the gunner are alternated. I've heard this referred to as "Clatter Cutting". There is also a sequence which violates part of the given definition, where shots of three stone lions in different positions appear as a single statue spring to its feet. Also check out Battleship Potemkin.
- The films of Fernando Meirelles feature many montage sequences.
- Robot Chicken manages to create the Anthropomorphic Personification of the montage as... the superhero, Montage!
- This Cracked article contains the outline for a quite a few.
- Both The Simpsons and Futurama use musical montages all the time, usually with licensed songs.
- The Sound of Music has two montages involving Maria and the children: one following "My Favorite Things," and another that makes the endless repeats of "Do-Re-Mi" considerably less boring.
- Arrested Development episode "Making a Stand" has two sequences which parody musical montages. In the first, the narrator complains that even with music over the top, the sequence of images wasn't funny; he says it would have been better with "Yellow Submarine", but they couldn't afford that. The second montage has similar complaints from the narrator and a cheaper song about a yellow boat.