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1929 documentary Man With a Movie Camera is regarded one of the best films ever made

Marija Georgievska

The Man with a Movie Camera is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film, directed by Dziga Vertov and edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova.

With no story, and no actors it shows scenes of city life in Moskow, Odessa and Kiev, and the credits describe it as an “experiment in cinematic communication of visible events”.

From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work, at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life.

The movie is made without hte help of theatre.

The movie is made without the help of theater.

 

 

The movie is without actors and sets.

The movie is without actors and sets.

The 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, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backward, stop motion animation, and self-reflexive visuals.

Vertov was an early pioneer in documentary film-making during the late 1920s.

Vertov was an early pioneer in documentary film-making during the late 1920s.

 

The documentary was filmed over a period of about 3 years. Photo Credit

The documentary was filmed over a period of about 3 years. 

Vertov was one of the first filmmakers to experiment with frame-rates, manipulating the number of times per second that his camera captured the action in order to distort the speed of certain clips when the film passed through a projector at its usual 24 frames per second.

This technique is used in a sequence at the park during an athletics competition.

In this shot, Mikhail Kaufman acts as a cameraman risking his life in searh of the best shot.

In this shot, Mikhail Kaufman acts as a cameraman risking his life in search of the best shot.

The split screen effect is one that Vertov utilizes a lot in Man with a Movie Camera. Vertov employs this technique to various ends throughout the film, sometimes to create a trick of the eye, sometimes to distort the image.

In one sequence he uses the split screen, in a way that is still adopted today, to focus on different actions or spaces at the same time.

The Man with A Movie Camera stands as one of cinema's most essential documents.

The Man with A Movie Camera stands as one of cinema’s most essential documents.

 

It is often described as an urban documentary yet the subject of th film is also the film itself.

It is often described as an urban documentary yet the subject of the film is also the film itself. Photo Credit

Vertov’s movie also could be viewed as early modernism in film. Working with a Marxist ideology, Vertov strove to create a futuristic city that would serve as a commentary on existing ideals in the Soviet world.

The film has an unabashedly avant-garde style and emphasizes that film can go anywhere.

Dziga Vertov's film was named the eighth best film of all time.

Dziga Vertov’s film was named the eighth best film of all time.

This movie inspired other abstract films by Ruttmann and others, including Liu Na’ou whose The Man Who Has a Camera (1933), pays explicit homage to Vertov’s The Man With a Movie Camera. In 2012, film critics voted Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera the 8th best film ever made.