A seminal film for understanding the development of both documentary and experimental cinema. A fundamental work also in the development of cinematographic effects.
Man with a movie camera presents urban life in the Soviet cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Moscow, and Odessa. It has no actors. 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.
The film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invented, employed or developed, such as multiple exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, match cuts, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, reversed footage, stop motion animations and self-reflexive visuals.
Vertov was an early pioneer in documentary film-making during the late 1920s. He belonged to a movement of filmmakers known as the kinoks, or kino-oki (kino-eyes). Vertov, along with other kino artists declared it their mission to abolish all non-documentary styles of film-making, a radical approach to movie making. Most of Vertov's films were highly controversial, and the kinok movement was despised by many filmmakers.
Working within a Marxist ideology, Vertov strove to create a futuristic city that would serve as a commentary on existing ideals in the Soviet world. This artificial city's purpose was to awaken the Soviet citizen through truth and to ultimately bring about understanding and action. The kino's aesthetic shone through in his portrayal of electrification, industrialization, and the achievements of workers through hard labour. This could also be viewed as early modernism in film.
Man with a Movie Camera's usage of double exposure and seemingly "hidden" cameras made the movie come across as a surreal montage rather than a linear motion picture. Many of the scenes in the film contain people, which change size or appear underneath other objects (double exposure). Because of these aspects, the movie is fast-moving.
Vertov strove to create a futuristic city that would serve as a commentary on existing ideals in the Soviet world. This artificial city's purpose was to awaken the Soviet citizen through truth and to ultimately bring about understanding and action.
Caspervek's Soundtrack for Man with a movie camera is set up (like many of the scores that have been created for the movie) as an album, where each track matches the different parts and chapters of the movie. The music moves between minimalism, references to contemporary jazz, the music of Philipp Glass or Steve Reich, the use of loops, pre-recorded electronics, and field recordings. In 2020 a new version of the soundtrack was made for a quartet line-up (violin, clarinet, piano, percussion) together with soloists Mario Peris (violin professor at the Vigo School of Music) and Marta Sancho (clarinet professor at the A Coruña School of Music).