great article on the kuleshove effect editing by elements of cinema read here
In the dawn of the 20th century, cinema was a new art form, consisting of many techniques that hadn’t been fully developed. The elements of editing were among them. Filmmakers knew that you could cut and splice the film strip, but they didn’t thoroughly comprehend the artistic purposes of doing so.
Lev Kuleshov, a Soviet filmmaker, was among the first to dissect the effects of juxtaposition. Through his experiments and research, Kuleshov discovered that depending on how shots are assembled the audience will attach a specific meaning or emotion to it.
In his experiment, Kuleshov cut the shot of an actor with shots of three different subjects: a girl in a coffin, a hot plate of soup, and a pretty woman lying in a couch. The footage of the actor was the same expressionless gaze. Yet the audience raved his performance, saying first he looked sad, then hungry, then lustful.
The Master Adds…
In a 1964 interview for the show Telescope, Alfred Hitchcock called this technique “pure cinematics – the assembly of film.” Sir Hitchcock says that if a close-up of a man smiling is cut with a shot of a woman playing with a baby, the man is portrayed as “kindly” and “sympathetic.” By the same token, if the same shot of the smiling man is cut with a girl in a bikini, the man is portrayed as dirty