Saturday, September 26, 2009

Man with the Movie Camera

Man with the Movie Camera (Человек с киноаппаратом), 1929
Director: Dziga Vertov
September 23, 2009

Now this is interesting. Made as an free-flowing experimental film, Man with the Movie Camera toys around with the concepts of cinema, while also using new and innovative techniques. Through the use of cinema, and without the aid of title cards and theater attachments (actors, sets, etc.) Dziga Vertov (with a huge assist from his brother as the rather acrobatic cameraman) shows the world that you can communicate through cinema without any sort of story.

What follows is an average day in Soviet Russia. We see beautiful black and white photography of Russian cities and train depots. We see people awaking and rising into the morning sun. We see a marriage and a divorce. We see a child born and death. The editing is slick in juxtaposing these images together, and it doesn't stop there. Soon we begin to bounce around particular jobs, such as coal mining and the police officers who control the traffic lights. It's interesting, since it seems that most of these people are unaware that the camera is present, which is neat because, like in a fictional film, the actors/actresses have to turn a blind eye to the machine that is recording them. However, there are a few scenes in particular (like the woman getting changed) that are obviously staged, but who cares? This movie is a marvel to look at. A clearly added soundtrack is over-the-top nationalist pomposity, but you get it's added effect.

We see fast/slow motion, extreme close-ups, double exposure, and a really cool editing trick that juxtaposes two dutch angles together. Man with the Movie Camera is short, sweet, and full of flashy technical camera work. It also great condensing of early Soviet ideas on cinema (montage, ect.) while pushing the envelope even further in hopes of what would be a truly new (socialist?) type of cinema. If you're interested in film history, documentaries or experimental films, then you should make sure you get the chance to see this.

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