Skip to main content

Dziga Vertov was born in 1896 in Bialystok. After the October Revolution in 1917, he began to work for Kino-Nedelya, the first newreels series in Russia. Over there, he met his future wife, Elizaveta Svilova, who was also an editor for his future films. Along with Svilova and his brother and cinematographer, Mikhail Kaufman, they would create several movies during the 1920’s, including the 1926’s “Sixth Part of the World” and “The Eleventh Year” in 1928. However, their biggest success would come in 1929 with the film “Man With A Movie Camera“.

To begin with, the film was shot in the streets of Moscow, Kyiv and Odessa. It shows the every day life of their citizens. There are no actors in the film. According to the aesthetic principles of Vertov, the film did not have a script. Even more than being just a documentary showing the daily life of the people, “Man With A Movie Camera” is a process of how Vertov and his team created the film. We see how the cinematographer controls the camera, how the editor chooses which frames to use etc. Although shot in various locations in different cities, we feel as everything happens in one place. Vertov, faithful to his Marxist ideology, tried to highlight the achievements the communists have accomplished after the revolution.

In “Man With A Movie Camera“, Vertov implemented experiments that he carried out for many years. Along with the theoretical developments in cinematography and editing, he turned his film into a film-making methodological guide for subsequent generations of directors. Vertov and Svilova employed almost all the known editing techniques. We can see shots in fast motion and others in slow motion. Moreover, there are freeze frames, which make us think that we see a still photograph and later there will be jump cuts, which create the effect of jumping forward in time. Finally, there are extreme close-ups, with the most famous one being the “eye close-up” and also there are tracking shots, like the ones we see when they drive around the cities.

Man With A Movie Camera” revolutionized the way we perceive reality and created a new cinematic language. It is an all-time classic and you will find it in all the lists with the best movies ever made. That’s why our rating is 4.5 / 5 stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

If you want to learn more about Dziga Vertov and in general, about the Soviet Montage Theory and the best Soviet filmmakers during the 1920’s, then check out the video we have prepared, as part of our “Cinema History” series:

Leave a Reply