Man with a Movie Camera

It is the end of a decade; the year being 1929. Film was certainly come a long way since its birth in 1880s, which can be demonstrated by those wishing to wield it with artistic purpose. Their drive to cultivate and refine the medium an aftereffect of its power and potential in their hands and later generations of its acolytes. A feature film absent of actors and storytelling glorifies this era by becoming one of the most influential and creative of that time, echoing onward into the future of cinema. This film was Russian director Dziga Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera”.

A silent experimental documentary where nearly every present day film convention is demonstrated, as it exaggerates the creation of a film in a single day by those could be arguably its “main characters”, a cameraman and editor, and their subject, the Soviet Union. Cinematic techniques are conceived, deployed, or executed in further depth through double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, first time uses of split screen and montage editing, Dutch angles, symbolic and intellectual juxtaposition of images, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage reversed, stop motion animation, and self-reflexive style all through the course of rapid-fire filmed scenes in its view of the cities Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa, and their inhabitants. The avante-garde piece employs greatly even some of these techniques together in multiple compositions, such as a spilt screen tracking shot of trolleys, either side at an opposite Dutch angles.

Edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov sought the middle ground of a narrative and database form of media. Each scene shot separately and with no intentional usage were taken and left with Svilova to later edit. Her job then was to create the narrative portion of his process. So going into that pool of clips at random, she would eventually bring some kind of order. Vertov’s desire to see the mold of the common linear film broken would soon be reality. He himself had belonged to a movement of filmmakers that declared this their mission, the dismantling of non-documentary styles of filmmaking. This film would in turn be too a response to harsh criticism received on an earlier film due to the overuse of intertitles.

The pace of the film’s editing was considered more than four times faster than what was typical of a feature then—with its approximately 1,775 separate shots. This would actually disturb audiences. The usages of double exposure and “candid” cameras made the film come more across as a surreal montage rather than linear film. But it is because of these unique characteristics that the film is quick and enthralling as the score that themes it throughout. And emotions that are beyond the verbal description are captured via close-ups, or juxtaposed imagery. The lack there of conventional aspects then creates the mesmerizing picture of the everyday through the absence of words and theatrics.

Regarded as a work of “pure” visual cinema, it is as well a wonderful example of a “city symphony” documentary. Its presentation of urban life from dawn to dusk of Soviet citizens shown at work or play emphasizes that film can go anywhere (but not without being noticed however). Often it was necessary to distract subjects, and to have some, contradictory to style, stagings as it were, both which would after the film’s release negatively incite critics. Ultimately though, Vertov, working with Marxist principles, strove to illustrate a “futuristic utopia” to serve as commentary on existing ideals in the country. This artificiality was meant to bring about awakening to the average Soviet citizen by means of the truth and in that the understanding that some sort of action should be taken.

In anxiety ridden fear of the film’s reception, on the official release , Vertov issued the following statement to be read at the beginning of the film:

“The film Man with a Movie Camera represents


Of visual phenomena


(a film without intertitles)


(a film without script)


(a film without actors, without sets, etc.)

This new experimentation work by Kino-Eye is directed towards the creation of an authentically international absolute language of cinema – ABSOLUTE KINOGRAPHY – on the basis of its complete separation from the language of theatre and literature.”

Silent Cinema!

Aelita: The Queen of Mars (Yakov Protazanov, 1924) 

The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925)

Cabiria (Giovanni Pastrone, 1914)

A Page of Madness (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1930)

Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade, 1915)

The Man With A Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

Borderline (Kenneth Macpherson, 1930)

The Unknown (Tod Browning, 1927)

Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925)

The Golem: How He Came Into The World (Paul Wegener, 1915)

The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks ( Lev Kuleshov, 1924)

Japanese Girls At The Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (John S. Robertson, 1920)

Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1922)

Souls on the Road (Minoru Murata, 1921)

Oscar Micheaux: Body and Soul, Within Our Gates, The Symbol of the Unconquered

Mikio Naruse: Apart From You, Every Night Dreams, Street Without End

F.W. Murnau: Faust, Phantom, Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, Tartuffe, Sunrise

Sergei Eisenstein: Strike, October, Battleship Potemkin

Victor Sjostrom: The Wind, The Outlaw And His Wife, Ingeborg Holm, He Who Gets Slapped, The Phantom Carriage

Paul Leni The Cat and the Canary, WaxworksThe Man Who Laughs

Buster Keaton: Sherlock Jr, The General, Our Hospitality, College, The Saphead, The Haunted House, Go West, Steamboat Bill Jr, Battling Buttler

Josef von SternbergThe Docks of New York, The Last Command, Underworld

Robert Wiene: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Hands of Orlac 

Carl Dreyer: The PresidentThe Passion of Joan of Arc, Michael, Leaves From Satan’s Book

D.W. Griffith: Intolerance, Way Down East, Orphans of the Storm

Kenji MizoguchiOrizuru Osen, The Water Magician, Poppy

Alexander Dovzhenko: Earth, Arsenal, Zvenigora

Vsevolod Pudovkin: The End of St. Petersburg, Mother, Storm Over Asia,

Fritz Lang: Metropolis, Die Nibelungen: Siegfried, Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge [1][2][3][4], Destiny, Woman In The Moon, Dr. Mabuse The Gambler [1][2], Spies

Jean Epstein: Coeur Fidele, The Fall of the House of Usher

Yasujiro Ozu: I Was Born But…, Tokyo Chorus, An Inn In Tokyo, Dragnet Girl

Charlie Chaplin: The Kid, Sunnyside, City Lights, Easy Street


Man With a Movie Camera | Dziga Vertov | 1929


A record on celluloid in 6 reels, produced by VUFKU 1929, (Excerpt from a cameraman’s diary)

This experimental work aims at creating a truly international absolute language of cinema based on it’s complete separation from the language of theatre and literature.

Author-Supervisor of this experiment: DZIGA VERTOV

Cheif cameraman: MIKHAIL KAUFMAN

100 Favorite Films

I’ve been shaping this list on and off throughout the past two or three years now, striving to bulk up my backlog of watched movies so I could make the most comprehensive list of my 100 favorite films. I hope to continue discovering and enjoying more works in the coming years; maybe this list will be completely different come three years from now. This list of 100 favorite films was finished August 15, 2015.

001. Mulholland Drive | David Lynch | 2001

002. Paris, Texas | Wim Wenders | 1984

003. Vertigo | Alfred Hitchcock | 1958

004. Woman in the Dunes | Hiroshi Teshigahara | 1964

005. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her | Jean-Luc Godard | 1967

006. Before Sunrise | Richard Linklater | 1995

007. The Mirror | Andrei Tarkovsky | 1975

008. Branded to Kill | Seijun Suzuki | 1967

009. Through a Glass Darkly | Ingmar Bergman | 1961

010. The Tree of Life | Terrence Malick | 2011

011. Fallen Angels | Wong Kar-wai | 1995

012. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance | John Ford | 1962

013. Opening Night | John Cassavetes | 1977

014. Taxi Driver | Martin Scorsese | 1976

015. A Moment of Innocence | Mohsen Makhmalbaf | 1996

016. 2001: A Space Odyssey | Stanley Kubrick | 1968

017. Red Desert | Michelangelo Antonioni | 1964

018. Sansho the Bailiff | Kenji Mizoguchi | 1954

019. Sherlock Jr. | Buster Keaton | 1924

020. Charulata | Satyajit Ray | 1964

021. Sonatine | Takeshi Kitano | 1993

022. Children of Men | Alfonso Cuarón | 2006

023. Sans Soleil | Chris Marker | 1983

024. Last Year at Marienbad | Alain Resnais | 1961

025. Memories of Underdevelopment | Tomás Gutiérrez Alea | 1968

026. La Dolce Vita | Federico Fellini | 1960

027. Nashville | Robert Altman | 1975

028. Dog Day Afternoon | Sidney Lumet | 1975

029. Kill Bill | Quentin Tarantino | 2003-2004

030. Teorema | Pier Paolo Pasolini | 1968

031. Point Blank | John Boorman | 1967

032. Journey to Italy | Roberto Rossellini | 1954

033. The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes | Stan Brakhage | 1971

034. Stranger Than Paradise | Jim Jarmusch | 1984

035. Rebels of the Neon God | Tsai Ming-liang | 1992

036. La Roue | Abel Gance | 1923

037. There Will Be Blood | Paul Thomas Anderson | 2007

038. The Blood of a Poet | Jean Cocteau | 1930

039. Yojimbo | Akira Kurosawa | 1961

040. Blade Runner | Ridley Scott | 1982

041. The Son | The Dardenne Brothers | 2002

042. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia | Sam Peckinpah | 1974

043. Sorcerer | William Friedkin | 1977

044. Brief Encounter | David Lean | 1946

045. Dancer in the Dark | Lars von Trier | 2000

046. Mauvais Sang | Leos Carax | 1986

047. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans | F.W. Murnau | 1927

048. Norte, the End of History | Lav Diaz | 2014

049. A Short Film About Killing | Krzysztof Kieślowski | 1988

050. The Young Girls of Rochefort | Jacques Demy | 1967

051. Ordet | Carl Theodor Dreyer | 1955

052. The Conversation | Francis Ford Coppola | 1974

053. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | Michel Gondry | 2004

054. Pickpocket | Robert Bresson | 1959

055. Suspiria | Dario Argento | 1977

056. El Topo | Alejandro Jodorowsky | 1970

057. The Leopard | Luchino Visconti | 1963

058. The Rules of the Game | Jean Renoir | 1939

059. Ghost in the Shell | Mamoru Oshii | 1995

060. Ace in the Hole | Billy Wilder | 1951

061. Don’t Look Now | Nicolas Roeg | 1973

062. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant | Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1972

063. Breathless | Jean-Luc Godard | 1960

064. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm | William Greaves | 1968

065. Man with a Movie Camera | Dziga Vertov | 1929

066. Black Narcissus | Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger | 1947

067. The Conformist | Bernardo Bertolucci | 1970

068. Gun Crazy | Joseph H. Lewis | 1950

069. Out of the Past | Jacques Tourneur | 1947

070. Miami Vice | Michael Mann | 2006

071. Through the Olive Trees | Abbas Kiarostami | 1994

072. Ménilmontant | Dimitri Kirsanoff | 1926

073. The Hit | Stephen Frears | 1984

074. Monsoon Wedding | Mira Nair | 2001

075. Gold Diggers of 1935 | Busby Berkeley | 1935

076. Coming Home | Hal Ashby | 1978

077. Elevator to the Gallows | Louis Malle | 1958

078. Le Cercle Rouge | Jean-Pierre Melville | 1970

079. Belle de Jour | Luis Buñuel | 1967

080. Audition | Takashi Miike | 1999

081. Once Upon a Time in the West | Sergio Leone | 1968

082. Killer of Sheep | Charles Burnett | 1979

083. Daisies | Věra Chytilová | 1966

084. Days of Heaven | Terrence Malick | 1978

085. eXistenZ | David Cronenberg | 1999

086. Beau Travail | Claire Denis | 1999

087. House | Nobuhiko Obayashi | 1977

088. The House Is Black | Forough Farrokhzad | 1963

089. Touki Bouki | Djibril Diop Mambéty | 1973

090. Three Days of the Condor | Sydney Pollack | 1975

091. Blast of Silence | Allen Baron | 1961

092. Light Sleeper | Paul Schrader | 1992

093. No Country for Old Men | The Coen Brothers | 2007

094. Pale Flower | Masahiro Shinoda | 1964

095. Los Muertos | Lisandro Alonso | 2004

096. Ms. 45 | Abel Ferrara | 1981

097. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs | Mikio Naruse | 1960

098. Cloverfield | Matt Reeves | 2008

099. White Heat | Raoul Walsh | 1949

100. Away with Words | Christopher Doyle | 1999

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA poster by the Stenberg Brothers.

This month on The Poster Boys, designers Brandon Schaefer and Sam Smith head back to the 1920s to look at the incredible film posters born out of the Russian Revolution and the work of two of Russia’s most prominent designers in particular, Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg. Despite a tragically short career, the Stenberg Brothers crafted over 300 posters during a period fraught with societal and technological change while becoming the pioneers of design and advertising techniques used throughout the world to this day. PLUS: a look in the Flat File at the poster designs for Buster Keaton’s silent comedy classic, THE GENERAL.

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