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Enthusiasm (1931)

Entuziazm (Simfoniya Donbassa) (original title)
How the miners of the Don coal basin (one of the industrial regions of Ukraine) were striving to fulfill in four years their part of the Five Year Plan.


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How the miners of the Don coal basin (one of the industrial regions of Ukraine) were striving to fulfill in four years their part of the Five Year Plan.

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2 April 1931 (Soviet Union)  »

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Enthusiasm  »

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User Reviews

Sic transit gloria mundi
8 August 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Some see Vertov's Enthusiasm as a masterpiece. Many others consider it a failure. I think that even as a failure Enthusiasm is a great experiment, one of the greatest in cinema history. It was Vertov's first sound film. And he tried with the soundtrack to do the impossible. In Человек с Киноаппаратом, the camera had been the main actor (maybe the only actor), constructing the film in front of the spectators' eyes. Here in Энтузиазм, the sound was the only actor, controlling an insane counterpoint of ballets on industrial themes, radio and railroad infrastructure, political meetings, huge demonstrations, coal exploitation, steelmaking, kolkhoz with tractors and stuff; all these seamlessly metamorphosing one into another, becoming the avatars of a unique reality. And as a symbol of sound supremacy, the power of the radio.

This movie is a perfect demonstration of конструктивизм: the old culture (religion and alcohol - here Vertov was the most orthodox avant-gardist) replaced by a new culture, where the art (of course, Constructivist) is generating the whole new society: policies, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and above all, Stalinist enthusiasm. A huge difference from the actual reality, which also meant forced labor, Голодомо́р, repressions (even one of the political leaders of the epoch, showed in the movie at a demonstration, Stanislav Kosian, the infamous organizer of the Ukrainian famine in the thirties, would become himself a victim of the Stalinist purges, in 1939). Carloss James Chamberlin is right: Vertov believed in his own reality, based on his filmic montage, always looking through his camera and at his strips of film. But that's the way the history goes, with the Avant-garde of the cinema: all of them, Eisenstein and Vertov among others (and also Riefenstahl by the way, on the other side) were politically very committed, for better or worse.

And as an irony of history this ultra-Communist film was not agreed by the Soviet officials either: the epoch of Socialist Realism was beginning, and Constructivist art had become to be viewed as a bit too formal, a bit too decadent, definitely too unhealthy, in one word too bourgeois. Sic transit gloria mundi.

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