Grey Room

Dance of Values: Reading Eisenstein’s Capital

Elena Vogman


The interrelation between capital’s continuous expansion and exhibition value as mediated through technology constitutes the central matter of Eisenstein’s unfulfilled Capital project. The planned film adaptation of Karl Marx’s Capital stands as one of the most enigmatic and impactful projects in the history of cinema. The preparatory notes for the film, a ten-page excerpt of which was first published in 1974 by Naum Kleiman and Leonid Kozlov in Iskusstvo kino, are astonishing. The director planned to use the Marxian magnum opus as a script while employing techniques inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses. A look into Eisenstein’s Moscow archive and the more than five hundred diary pages he dedicated to the Capital project from October 1927 to November 1928 reveals the full scope of his plans.