Dan Hume's Blog


The Man With A Movie Camera
October 19, 2011, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Specialist Project

I was introduced to this experimental documentary, as it reflects what I’m wanting to do for my documentary in terms of technology and the conceptual idea. This film was made in 1929 when movie cameras were relatively new and even had their limitations. Like what I’m doing, I’m stepping away from all the higher end cameras and downgrading to something that has limited video functions in comparison to what’s available on the market.

The Man With A Movie Camera is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film, with no story and no actors, by Russian director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova.

Vertov’s feature film, produced by the Ukrainian film studio VUFKU, presents urban life in Odessa and other Soviet cities. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. To the extent that it can be said to have “characters,” they are the cameramen of the title, the film editor, and the modern Soviet Union they discover and present in the film.

This film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, 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 and a self-reflexive style (at one point it features a split screen tracking shot; the sides have opposite Dutch angles).

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