I watched The Man with a Movie Camera several times, not because, as some people do, I loved it so much that I must watch again and again. No, just happened. Someone told me it was a great film and I watched. After that I used it in a video work, and watched more two times to choose the best scenes. One more in a class of cinema history, one more in documentary, one more for edition classes, and… well I saw at least one more time, to check that the film was uploaded without any problem.
Just coincidence, but it’s a fabulous film, it’s a masterpiece of avant-garde, of film edition history and visual ideology. If someone asked me about any avant-garde film of Russian film, or silent film to watch, I would suggest The Man with a Movie Camera.
Realised in 1929 by Dziga Vertov, this film is part of his Kino-Eye theories and experiments at cinema language and edition. His brilliant film shows a city as live organism, composed by the citizens and workers, the city wake up, go to work, lunch, has a great time with its fellows and go sleep. The city at Dziga’s film is modern, is full of energy, is the ideal of perfect working, it’s the city in his splendour.
This film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme closeups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, and a self-reflexive storyline.
For me those are enough reasons to watch it. Some will say that no, because it’s propaganda. Yes, you are right, it’s a marvellous soviet propaganda in a all its plenitude. It’s not Triumph of the Will, that is visually great, it’s not October another masterpiece that clearly seems the soviet revolution idea. The Man with a Movie Camera is more subtle, its sells the ideal of a great and modern city to live and the soviet ideology is veiled.
All this was just an excuse to say that it’s in public domain and on-line at Internet Archive and Google Video. That’s not the perfect way to watch this film and the soundtrack with this on-line version isn’t my favourite (actually I don’t know who did the soundtrack of the version that I like), but it helps for time.
More precious masterpieces of soviet montage, and some not so brilliant but interesting soviet films from 1920’s are on-line. I made short list about and I hope that this awaken your interest for search for more. Enjoy and take a look at this excellent gallery of Russian movie posters (via La Ventana Indiscreta)
– Chess Fever (Shakhmatnaya goryachka) directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin and Nikolai Shpikovsky (1925): article (Fr), video here or here
– Entuziazm: Simfoniya Donbassa (Enthusiasm) directed by Dziga Vertov (1931): video
– Glumov’s Diary (Dnevnik Glumova) directed by Sergei Eisenstein (1923): video
– Kinoglaz (Kino Eye) directed by Dziga Vertov (1924): download and video – video
– October (Oktyabr) directed by Sergei Eisenstein (1928) – article – video
– The End of St. Petersburg (Konets Sankt-Peterburga) directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin (1927): video
– The Man With a Movie Camera (Chelovek s kino-apparatom) directed by Dziga Vertov (1929): article – download – video
– The Battleship Potemkin (Bronenosets Potyomkin) directed by Sergei Eisenstein (1925): article – download – video
– Three Songs of Lenin (Tri pesni o Lenine) directed by Dziga Vertov (1934): download and video – video
PS.: I will make a post about Eisenstein at another time.
Related post: Silent Films, More Films and Soundtracks
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