The Kuleshov effect refers to an experiment done by soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov. He edited together a short film that showed an expressionless man interspersed with shots of a bowl of soup, a girl in a coffin, and a woman. The film was shown to an audience who raved about the acting, his longing for the soup, sadness for the girl, and desire for the woman. However, Kuleshov had used the same shot of the man over and over, unbeknownst to the audience.
This effect is meant to show the effectiveness of film editing and implies that an audience will bring their own presumptions to an actor, reattributing their emotions onto his performance. When the shot of the man and the soup, the coffin, or the woman are put next to each other, their association produces an idea in the audience’s head which, Kuleshov believed, was the basis of cinema as an art form.