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also known as Chelovek s kinoapparatom | L'homme à la caméra

Man with a Movie Camera1929

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  • 4.6
Described by Dziga Vertov, its director, as an "experiment in the language of pure cinema," MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA is perhaps the most dazzling and sophisticated work not only of Soviet, but of world silent cinema. In part it is a "city symphony," although its urban landscape is actually a film synthesis of shots taken in Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and elsewhere. In part, it is a panorama of and a manifesto on the nature of socialist society in the late 1920s. But it is especially a revelation of the possibilities of non-acted, non-fiction films: We see the cinema projectionist show the reel we are actually viewing; the "star" is the film's actual cameraman at work; the shots we see him take will reappear elsewhere as we see the film editor create emotional and intellectual moments from unrelated lengths of footage. Vertov's refusal to be limited by his source film is apparent in his execution of a broad spectrum of cinematic techniques in a truly avant-garde style. Double exposure, fast and slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, and stop motion animations create an exhilarating experience in this amazing landmark movie.

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"...a dazzling ode to life, art and filmmaking itself, a 'city symphony'-type documentary with arms stretched wide to encompass the Soviet Union whole." - Dennis Harvey, Keyframe


1 member likes this review

The existence of "The Man With a Movie Camera" validates and celebrates both cinema and life. This film is perfect as a silent: it's all about vision. This is a wild ride, with brilliant pacing and thematic arcs, one of the few films that accomplishes its incredibly lofty ambitions. It's amazing how early metafiction was developed in film: The filmmaker films a filmmaker filming a film about filming. Like life, it sounds complicated, but it actually is just as simple and lovely as breathing. This is one of the easiest and most enjoyable viewing experiences ever. Vertov also makes this as personal as life: he hires his brother Mikhail Kaufman as cinematographer, and his wife Elizaveta Svilova as editor. They both show up in the film. Everyone should see this brilliant movie, which proves that film is a universal language.

Member Reviews (10)

The existence of "The Man With a Movie Camera" validates and celebrates both cinema and life. This film is perfect as a silent: it's all about vision. This is a wild ride, with brilliant pacing and thematic arcs, one of the few films that accomplishes its incredibly lofty ambitions. It's amazing how early metafiction was developed in film: The filmmaker films a filmmaker filming a film about filming. Like life, it sounds complicated, but it actually is just as simple and lovely as breathing. This is one of the easiest and most enjoyable viewing experiences ever. Vertov also makes this as personal as life: he hires his brother Mikhail Kaufman as cinematographer, and his wife Elizaveta Svilova as editor. They both show up in the film. Everyone should see this brilliant movie, which proves that film is a universal language.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

If the French invented the cinema and Americans invented the *art* of cinema, then the Russians RE-invented cinema. It is so exciting in Man with a Movie Camera to watch Vertov push every cinematic boundary and demolish every convention of narrative and continuity. Not until the films of the French New Wave would there be another comparable revolution in film, although of course most of those filmmakers were extremely indebted to early American filmmakers and to Soviet montage in both its theory and practice.

fantastic!

There is cinema before this, and cinema after this.

I'm so glad I came across this, it's timelessly brilliant.

Wow, what a great operator work!

Infinitely rewatchable. A remarkably timeless soviet montage masterpiece. A film about a film about filmmaking, but also about a day in the life of a city of three cities made one through the magic of the film about the film about the film about filmmaking; about editing; about viewing; about seeing what you see in what was seen and shot and shown. Brilliant. Beautiful.

This was really good, everything about it was done so well. The music was perfect! I really enjoyed this and can't tell you exactly why. The entire thing was done right from start to end.

One of the greatest films ever made. Vertov utilizes numerous devices that distinguish film from novels, theatre, and fine art. It is unfortunate that most contemporary filmmakers privilege story over these elements and that filmmaking has become a zombie enterprise-seemingly alive but really dead.

Filmmaker = God

Camera is the extension of our naked vision. It's a machine which aids us to be in places we physically cannot. This is a film on filmmaking itself, calling out to all filmmakers by getting people excited to make film. Small incontinuities between shots are also a comment on filmmaking. It's indeed a timeless and profound work.