Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Man With a Movie Camera [1929]

Over the years a number of filmmakers have experimented with form, but rarely have such exercises been as iconic and as universally adulated as Dziga Vertov’s seminal avant-garde work The Man with a Movie Camera. Watching the film felt like witnessing a wide-eyed kid playing with a new-found toy with complete abandon, oblivious to the world around him. Completely bereft of dialogues and thus nullifying the requirement of inter-titles and subtitles, this was a celebration of what some refer to as “pure cinema”, as Vertov went about capturing day-to-day life in Moscow, Kiev and Odessa, randomly juxtaposed one after the other. And, as the film progressed, from an energetic zeitgeist of the era, it turned into a collection of a host of trickeries and pyrotechnics with camerawork and editing, like fast-mo, slow-mo, camera placed in the frame of reference of a rotating object, jump cuts, rapid-fire edits, double exposure, stop motion, superimpositions, split screens, breathtaking montages, oblique camera angles, etc. – displaying Vertov’s tremendous grasp of and his willingness to explore the technological possibilities of the medium, and reinforcement of his philosophies of Kino-Eye and Kino-Pravda. The meta-narrative aspect was tad too forced at times, and the zany trickeries, though interesting to watch (albeit up to a point), obscured, to the film’s detriment, the socio-political observations that it inadvertently comprised of. Nonetheless, its kinetic and jumbled depiction of everyday working-class life, achieved through a host of unrelated movie clips of both the mundane and the interesting, was quite illuminating and even dazzling at times. The fine orchestral score, too, nicely complemented the actions on display.

Director: Dziga Vertov
Genre: Documentary/Avant-Garde/Experimental Film/Silent Film
Language: Russian
Country: Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union)

1 comment:

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