For years, as everyone knows, Eisenstein has been working as if in a prison, under supervision of jailers who are not only peculiarly dangerous and merciless, but also as sudden to change their minds as minnows their direction. It goes without saying that this interferred monstrously with his work. Just how, and jut how much it has shaped his work and his mind, I see no use whatever in trying to guess, for I fear that it is impossible to guess how much he agrees with his jailers, even in their treatment of him, and how much, quite aside of that, his own nature may have been predisposed to this sort of hardening and change. No mind and spirit stand still, least of all the mind and spirit of great artist. Even discounting outside pressures, there is no guaranty that the development would be for the better, and heaven knows they cannot be discounted in Eisenstein’s case. Everything that is meant by creative genius and its performance, and everything that that signifies about freedom and potentiality in general, is crucified in Eisenstein, more meaningfully, and abominably, than in any other man I can think of. I hardly know which seems the more tragic: the possibility that he is still essentially a free man, his own master, doing the best he can under annihilating difficulties; or the possibility that he accepts the crucifixion and has even helped drive such nails as, in that predicament, he could manage.

Agee On Film, p. 245, май 1947


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