Montage /mɒnˈtɑːʒ/ is a technique in film editing in which a series of short shots are edited into a sequence to condense space, time, and information. The term has been used in various contexts. It was introduced to cinema primarily by Eisenstein, and early Russian directors used it as a synonym for creative editing. In France the word "montage" simply denotes cutting. The term "montage sequence" has been used primarily by British and American studios, which refers to the common technique as outlined in this article.
The montage sequence is usually used to suggest the passage of time, rather than to create symbolic meaning as it does in Soviet montage theory.
From the 1930s to the 1950s, montage sequences often combined numerous short shots with special optical effects (fades, dissolves, split screens, double and triple exposures) dance and music. They were usually assembled by someone other than the director or the editor of the movie.
The sports training montage is a standard explanatory montage. It originated in American cinema but has since spread to modern martial arts films from East Asia. Originally depicting a character engaging in physical or sports training, the form has been extended to other activities or themes.
The standard elements of a sports training montage include a build-up where the potential sports hero confronts his failure to train adequately. The solution is a serious, individual training regimen. The individual is shown engaging in physical training through a series of short, cut sequences. An inspirational song (often fast-paced rock music) typically provides the only sound. At the end of the montage several weeks have elapsed in the course of just a few minutes and the hero is now prepared for the big competition. One of the best-known examples is the training sequence in the 1976 movie Rocky, which culminates in Rocky's run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The simplicity of the technique and its over-use in American film vocabulary has led to its status as a film cliché. A notable parody of the sports training montage appears in the South Parkepisode, "Asspen", noted above. When Stan Marsh must become an expert skier quickly, he begins training in a montage where the inspirational song explicitly spells out the techniques and requirements of a successful sports training montage sequence as they occur on screen. The same song is used in Team America: World Police in a similar sequence.