Kuleshov demonstrated the necessity of considering montage as the basic tool of cinema art. In Kuleshov's view, the cinema consists of fragments and the assembly of those fragments, the assembly of elements which in reality are distinct. It is therefore not the content of the images in a film which is important, but their combination. The raw materials of such an art work need not be original, but are pre-fabricated elements which can be disassembled and re-assembled by the artist into new juxtapositions.
The montage experiments carried out by Kuleshov in the late 1910s and early 1920s formed the theoretical basis of Soviet montage cinema, culminating in the famous films of the late 1920s by directors such as Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin and Dziga Vertov, among others.
These films included The Battleship Potemkin, October, Mother, The End of St. Petersburg, and The Man with a Movie Camera.
Soviet montage cinema was suppressed under Joseph Stalin during the 1930s as a dangerous example of Formalism in the arts, and as being incompatible with the official Soviet artistic doctrine of Socialist Realism.