Life, Death, Work and Pleasure.
1929 Russian Style
#134 in the Masters of Cinema Series in the Eureka style of Dual-Format presentation of classic celluloid. This is no exception as it brings a 4 disc limited release of the pioneering cinematographer Dziga Vertov, a member of the controversial film makers known as the Kinoks (Kino’s eye) an Avant-Garde group believing their cameras could go anywhere and be invisible to film without the subjects being concious of them. But with the cameras being bulky and noisy and hand-cranked.
Credits go to principle cinematographer Mikhail Kaufman and Assistant editor Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov‘s wife. Vertov had received unfavourable reviews for his earlier productions so set about taking to task those critics with producing something so completely different from hos previous works and anyone else. So much so that he produced a statement at the start of this documentary.
“The film Man with a Movie Camera represents”
AN EXPERIMENTATION IN THE CINEMATIC COMMUNICATION
Of visual phenomena
WITHOUT THE USE OF INTERTITLES
(a film without intertitles)
WITHOUT THE HELP OF A SCENARIO
(a film without a scenario)
WITHOUT THE HELP OF THEATRE
(a film without actors, without sets, etc.)
A film of six reels this documentary shows Vertov‘s thinking and his skill and lack of health and safety back then, and how he got some of amazing ground breaking shots. With him also writing the accompanying descriptive music and played by the Alloy Orchestra. Special thanks go to Lobster films that restored the film in 2014.
An empty cinema closed over night and all the curtains closed and rope barricades closed, the seats folded back, cold and awaiting eager posteriors to warm them as they marvel at Vertov‘s history piece. As he invents new techniques and employs the most modern of ideas such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations. Slowly the chairs descend of their own accord as the curtains are drawn back and the doors opened as streams of people pour into the screen with eager seats awaiting them.
The first reel is about how the poor and the better of live their lives, as peasants sleep ruff on benches or on the seat of the cart they drive. While others (A staged piece with a woman sleeping then getting washed and dressed)spend their time getting their hair and make-up done in salons. Its the clean versus the unwashed. Reel 2 is about the efficiency of the Communist state as it shows planes, trains, buses and trams as the major Russian cities start to come alive. Vertov gets right into the middle of the city and right in amongst the throng of the trams and cars as it all looks chaotic but seems to flow amazingly well.
Reel 3 is all about life, death, marriage, divorce the grief and suffering that goes with some and the joy and jubilation that goes with the others and to the absolute joy of a birth.We see Vertov balanced in the back of a car with his camera chasing ambulances across the city as some poor man has had an accident and then follows it back to the hospital, he also uses this technique to shadow fire engines. Then we see the difference between the woman at work and the different industries men work in, like the difference of the speed and accuracy of women packing cigarettes and at the sewing machines, to men with pickaxes at the coal face and also the immense heat of the steel foundry.
The rest of the reels show what happens when the whistle blows at the end of the day and the tools are put down and the machines grind to a halt and all is quiet except for the noise of people being released into the open to do as they please. People head for the beach and the fair-ground to while away their time. Others turn to sports of the track and field and physical fitness in the outdoors and others take their pleasure in swimming and volleyball. The other choice is to go to the local hostelry and drink bottles of beer or the copious amounts of vodka and then to the shooting range at the fair.
This is the best restoration I have seen so far from the people at the Masters of Cinema and is a must for the historian or the inquisitive of the family and with the extras you get with this release you are in for a treat.
Also with this you get other works by Vertov, with such delights as
What it is like to give the village girls home-made vodka.
The death of Lenin.
The prowess of the Russian industrial machine.
Three songs for Lenin.
· Limited-edition 4-Disc Dual-Format
· New high-definition restored transfers of all five films
· Uncompressed PCM audio on all films
· Scores by The Alloy Orchestra for Man With A Movie Camera and Robert Israel for Kino-Eye
· New audio commentary on Man With A Movie Camera by film scholar Adrian Martin
· The Life and Times of Dziga Vertov, an exclusive, lengthy video interview with film scholar Ian Christie on Vertov’s career and the films in this set
· New exclusive visual essay by filmmaker David Cairns
· 100-page limited edition book featuring the words of Dziga Vertov, archival imagery and more!