This playful film is at once a documentary of a day in the life of the Soviet Union, a documentary of the filming of said documentary, and a depiction of an audience watching the film. Even the editing of the film is documented. We often see the cameraman who is purportedly making the film, but we rarely, if ever, see any of the footage he seems to be in the act of shooting!Written by
George S. Davis
Included in the Toronto International Film Festival's Essential 100, movies every cinephile should see. See more »
At the beginning there is a long explanation of what this film is about and that it is of experimental origin. See more »
Kino International, by arrangement with the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, released a version in 1996 produced by David Shepard and copyrighted by Film Preservation Associates. It runs 68 minutes and has new original music composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra following the written instructions from the director, Dziga Vertov. The music has been copyrighted by Junk Metal Music in 1996. See more »
The Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov made in 1929 is a silent film that clams to break away from the use of film cards, actors, and all other theatrical aspects that the film industry had been using as it has been developing. To capture this break from the set standards Vertov filmed life over the course of five to six years then edited down the film and added a score. There is no specific cast, nor a specific narrative them that the film follows. From the very first sequence of images of this film the viewer is brought into a world that focuses on the association of man and machine; how man not only controls the machine, it's out put and maintenance but also how man is like a machine. Man is the driving force of modern society; man is the backbone behind production and advances. Vertov expresses this idea without words, but instead shows a city waking up and dependent on the labor force. The pace of the images flows this slower morning pace to more of a flowing fast pace where images fly past the viewers at such a high rate it is almost impossible to see all action that has taken place. He interlays people and machines in both paces, to show not only the technological advances of that time but to also show how production, machines, and people enjoyment/fascination never stop. There is always this sense of progress. He shows that there is always two sides to every part of life. He shows images of life and death, marriage and divorce, young and old age as well as work and recreation. To offset the impact of all the images of only a workforce life, Vertov shows how society also has sports, games, pubs, and the beach to entertain the masses. The main theme of The Man with a Movie Camera is political. The film shows a Proletariat dominated society under the rule of Lenin. It is a propaganda tool of the time. All scenes show people in mass enjoying and partaking in the same action, whether it be working, travel, or recreation. The film tries to express a feeling of grandeur and delight with a society that shares everything and one that is based on a large working class. The repetitious images of machines and lower class individuals expresses the idea of a structured society that must function properly like a machine; that each person must carry their weight due to the whole nation's as well as society's prosperity being dependent on them. There is no difference of the sexes in this work force. That all individuals work and all do similar jobs. This idea is a complete opposite from Hollywood films and America's mindset of the same era. Vertov created a film where the view felt as if they were being shown a special side of society that not all individuals see. Tricks in editing and in photography allow him to interlay images of the camera and the human eye, which in turn implies the camera is a window into a different world. He wanted to create a film that showed society at the time. A film that broke away from the theatrical mindset that all films of that era followed. He wanted to show how all aspects of society are intertwined and that there is an over all happiness and contentment within Russia under Lenin. This propaganda film was used to invoke emotion as well as a feeling of awe for the association of man and machine.
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