Review of Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Moving picture, 68 minutes

Excerpt from a camera operator’s diary. ATTENTION VIEWERS: This film is an experiment in cinematic communication of real events. Without the help of intertitles, without the help of a story, without the help of theatre. This experimental work aims at creating a truly international language of cinema based on its absolute separation from the language of theatre and literature.

There are actually two men with cameras, and one often films the other, down to the very process of editing, where series of stills selected by the filmmaker take on the illusion of movement. The film thus displays its own creation and finds parallels in the civilization it playfully observes.

A formalist, futurist experiment by Dziga Vertov. Mute modernist metacinema of thematically connected everyday events in an urban Soviet environment. I don’t think any of the technical tricks were invented here. Some are used for their own sake, limping without the story they normally aid. It’s all very clever, but not engaging.

References here: Under the Sun (2015).

moving picture non-fiction