I had never heard of this experiment before starting the course and it has been intriguing me ever since. The idea came from the Russian formalists who pioneered the concept of montage. Abstract images are given new meaning by the connection of shots. Kuleshov and Pudovkin cut images of soup, a child in a coffin and semi-naked woman over the face of one of Russia's more well-known actors.
This is the original and the dude really does look like he is acting his heart out - the heavy breathing, the intense expression in his eyes...
Or maybe this was the original?
Here's Hitch showing it (a bit) more recently:
Matt and some lovely friends and I played around this this last weekend. I quickly learned that unless the actor is looking face on at the camera (which I will try next time), the sight lines and look room are crucial. The grading and lighting also make a difference.
The first few attempts proved that the 'object' sequences need to look like they are completely different (ie a flashback or imagination) or very similar, in terms of location and light and interaction with the camera.
The version below still didn't quite work. It would be better without the cat sequence as that is too bright and would not be as likely to emote a response from the 'subject'.
It seems like very powerful cut-aways are necessary in a short sequence to ensure impact.