Man With a Movie Camera and Other Works by Dziga Vertov (1929) | Five Soviet cinema masterpieces in HD
Voted the greatest documentary of all time in the 2014 Sight & Sound poll, Soviet director Dziga Vertov’s radical, ground-breaking 1929 city-symphony, Man With a Movie Camera (Chelovek’s kino-apparatom), used every trick in the cinematic textbook and invented new ones to record Moscow’s masses at work and at play from dawn to dusk, while celebrating the cameraman as hero.
Hugely influential, Vertov’s dazzling film certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the most contemporary of silent movies – and continues to inspire awe with each revisit thanks to its virtuoso camera trickery. This is cinema absolute and essential viewing.
In July 2015, the BFI released a Special Edition Blu-ray of the documentary featuring a score by Michael Nyman (read all about it here). Eureka’s Masters of Cinema new Dual Format release features the 2014 HD restoration from EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam and Lobster Films, with brand new score by the Alloy Orchestra, alongside newly restored prints of four of Vertov’s silent classics (below). The special features include audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin, a video interview with film scholar Ian Christie on Vertov’s career, a visual essay by filmmaker David Cairns, and a collector’s booklet.
Other Works by Dziga Vertov
• Kino-Eye (1924, 78min): this seminal propaganda documentary is the most successful application of Vertoz’s principals and editing techniques, and paved the way for the deconstructionist movement. It is featured here with a newly recorded score by Robert Israel.
• Kino-Pravda No.21 (1925, 36min): one of 23 newsreels made over three years, this film charts the success of Soviet progress under Lenin. It was also the name of the movement (Film Truth) spearheaded by Vertov who envisaged a cinema composed entirely of such newsreels that followed the principles developed in Kino-Eye.
• Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (1931, 67min): this avant-garde aural experiment dedicated to the First Five Year Plan was the first sound film shot in the Ukraine and featured a complex, pioneering soundtrack (Charlie Chaplin was a fan) that was made up of machinery and factory noises.
• Three Songs of Lenin (1934, 61min): this poetic propaganda film is based on three songs of the Soviet East. The first shows secular Communism’s victory over Islam and the empowerment of women, the second shows a country in mourning over Lenin’s death, and the third showcases Soviet military might and industrial expansion.