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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Within this film… hidden somewhere deep inside… is the promise of future genius

Author: ackstasis from Australia
1 April 2008

It's difficult to know what to make of this film. 'Dnevnik Glumova / Glumov's Diary (1923),' a loosely-plotted five minute short film, was the debut directorial effort of Sergei M. Eisenstein, who would go on to become one of the most influential filmmakers of all-time, his most well-known works including the magnificent 'The Battleship Potemkin (1925)' and 'Ivan the Terrible (1944).' It was 'Stachka / Strike (1925),' a Soviet propaganda piece, that first brought Eisenstein recognition, but it's certainly interesting to observe his single earlier effort, and one can begin to detect a keen interest in exploring innovative editing techniques – namely, his pioneering use of the montage. Believed lost for decades, 'Glumov's Diary' was later discovered in a 1923 newsreel composed by Dziga Vertov {who is best known for his revolutionary documentary 'The Man with a Movie Camera (1929)'}.

Eisenstein's film is based on Alexandr Ostrovsky's nineteenth century stage-play, "The Wise Man." However, I found it hard to even discern an actual plot within the seemingly-random montage of silly-looking clowns and morphing human figures. The short film {which, I presume, may have been altered from its original form when Vertov compiled it into his newsreel} opens with profiles of the story's main characters, each fading into screen from nothing, or otherwise just making a childish face at the camera. From here, a man attempts to retrieve a top hat from the roof of a building, before he crash-lands into a passing vehicle and somehow cues a rather bewildering montage of acrobats transforming into babies, machinery and donkeys. Not being familiar with Ostrovsky's source material, I was simply unable to decipher the plot beyond this level, though I'm sure that there's a deeper allegorical subtext that I'm not capable of grasping.

Of course, viewed as a historical document, 'Glumov's Diary' is a relatively important piece of cinema, as it signposts a new era in film-making innovation. The montage, which Eisenstein described as "the nerve of cinema," may seem commonplace nowadays, but it was the director's accomplished use of the technique that opened to cinema a new realm of editing possibilities. "Each sequential element," Eisenstein noted further, "is perceived not next to the other, but on top of the other." Even in this film, in the absence of any easily-discernible plot, the director's intelligent use of editing – cutting sequentially from one surreal moment to the next – conveys a sense of rhythm that really holds the film together as a whole. There is nothing revolutionary about the cross-fades which facilitate the acrobat's transformation into a series of animate and inanimate objects, but the effect works quite well.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Clowns Behaving Badly

Author: boblipton from New York City
24 July 2011

Hailed as Eisenstein's first movie, DNEVIK GLUMOVA looks a lot like circus clowns let loose on the city, climbing to the top of buildings and generally behaving in a way that should send anyone who suffers from coulrophobia screaming for the exits.

Since it is an Eisenstein piece, the general reaction is that it is a harbinger of future glory and should be loved for that. Looking at it on its own merits, however, one is struck by the oddity of the piece. The Academician editing is staccato and as annoying as the clowns, and the pacing of the cuts is monotonous and as boring.

Academician editing had quicker cuts than was standard for the era and, indeed, for anything short of MTV editing. However, the constant rate of cutting makes all the clips of equal impact and prevent any sort of emotional connection. This may have been Eisenstein's intention, but it is too great a demand on the viewer. Eisenstein would learn to do better, but his failures here make this of no more than historical importance.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Eisenstein's Humble Beginning

Author: gavin6942 from United States
14 June 2013

Filmic insert to Eisenstein's modernized, free adaptation of Ostrovskiy's 19th-century Russian stage play...

While it is hard to judge anything that is only five minutes long, this is certainly an interesting little piece of film history. Somewhat odd with all the clowns, a bit surreal perhaps... and the juxtaposition of the playful actors with tanks symbolizing war and death... quite strange.

Of course, had the director gone on to only make newsreels, I never would have been exposed to it. But he was Sergei Eisenstein, one of the great silent directors and the master of Soviet cinema. Can we find hints at his genius in this brief sample? Perhaps, perhaps not.

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Soviet Chaplin?

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
13 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a fairly short black-and-white silent film from 1923, so not too long anymore until this has its 100th anniversary. However, I am fairly certain that this film would have vanished into obscurity if it wasn't for the famous name attached to this little movie: Sergei M. Eisenstein. He became one of the Soviet Union's most influential filmmakers in the decades after that and here when he made this movie he was still fairly young. I would say it is a bearable watch taking his age into account. But not a good one. The only thing I take from this is that clowns were also scary already 100 years ago. This film could have been better with intertitles as the story was pretty difficult to understand. that is why my overall verdict is negative. Not an interesting watch and I give it a thumbs down.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

GLUMOV'S DIARY (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1923) **

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
19 March 2010

A weird 5-minute short which saw the debut of one of cinema's most important figures (who even appears at the start to salute the audience!) in the development of cinema technique. This is evident even here, as the film starts by introducing various characters (circus clowns, from what I could gather) fixed in a pose to which they all return at some point during the plot less proceedings! Another odd element has each of them enter one particular scene and dissolve into some object or other. For what it is, the bafflingly-titled film is tolerable, even proficient – but, considering the heavily political/social themes Eisenstein would tackle in his influential features soon after, this is at once bland and unmemorable.

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