East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, February 28, 2005

The Man with a Movie Camera: Dziga Call (to all my past resignations)

"The Man With the Movie Camera is at once a Whitmanesque documentary-portrait of the Soviet people, a reflexive essay on cinematic representation, and an ecstatic ode to human labor as a process of transformation." - J. Hoberman

in a strange way like Bunuel
deconstructed cinema into its elements
then recombined them into a new visual language
that constantly undermined those languages that already existed
a good Commie only needed to speak Russian
so Vertov was called out as bourgie
Bunuel here raises an eyebrow
and was eventually backed into making run-of-the-mill newsreels
his ideas were extended by Marker
oddly enough
Chaplin in "Modern Times"

Vertov's great Futurist movie was a silent
a hymn to progress made in a dying medium
Vertov's formal aim was to estrange viewers
from their learned ways of seeing the world
take the famous slo-mo shots of throwers and jumpers and vaulters
then as now
we were conditioned to watch sports to see who wins
Vertov makes the identity of the winner irrelevant
What matters is the physical act
and the joy of the athletes at their capabilities
all the jumpers get over the bar
Futurist theorist Aleksei Kruchenykh wrote of
"the world turned backwards"
film allowed Vertov to display causality in reverse
which admittedly Mack Sennett had done a decade earlier
the apotheosis of this family of techniques comes
when we see still frames
juxtaposed with the clips they were pulled from
a display of cinema's power
and a critique of the simplistic ways of seeing we prefer
and not just at the movies

(Yeah, I know I'm Not Dark Yet, but I'm getting there.)

Further reading: DVD Times review


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