Man with a Movie Camera
Dziga Vertov, Russia, 1929, black and white, 35mm, 65'
The ultimate documentary by the progressive filmmaker Dziga Vertov dramatizes the cameraman's role in society. Vertov presents a kaleidoscopic image of city life in the Soviet Union of the 1920s. By performing unthinkable feats, Vertov shoots the daily experiences of the city's inhabitants. He rides along with cars and trains, lies on busy thoroughfares and railways and climbs towers and bridges. Meanwhile, the camera is running and its glass eye is capturing it all. Time and again, Vertov mixes the event in front of the lens with the process of recording it. The camera shoots a passerby who reacts to the camera, and the viewer sees the passerby looking at his own reflection in the lens. Vertov goes even further by bringing the action to a stop. Then, the still images appear to be part of a filmstrip in the hands of the editor, who is cutting it into the right place in the film. Vertov goes on playing cinematic tricks to surprise his audience, and at the end of the film he even makes the camera bow to receive the well-deserved applause.