Man with a Movie Camera and Battleship Potemkin

Power of Pictures Thursday Evening Film Screening

Man with a Movie Camera and Battleship Potemkin Power of Pictures Thursday Evening Film Screening | Events Calendar
Film still, Man with a Movie Camera, Dziga Vertov 1929, USSR, 68 min. Thumbnail image: Film still, Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein 1925, USSR, 71 min.

Upper E Side

The Jewish Museum | 1109 5th Ave

5:30 pm: Man with a Movie Camera is one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era. Startlingly modern, it features a groundbreaking style of rapid editing, done by Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov’s collaborator and wife, and incorporates innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of great power and energy. Shot in Odessa, Kiev, and Kharkiv over three years, the film captures twenty-four hours in the life of a Soviet city. It presents urban Russian life as a dizzying montage of people at work and play, and the machines that endlessly whirl to keep the metropolis alive. It is also a film about the artifice of filmmaking: Vertov shoots scenes of the cameraman—his brother Mikhail Kaufman—shooting scenes, scenes of film being edited, and even scenes of a film audience. There are recurring shots of an eye seen through a camera lens. Man with a Movie Camera was Vertov’s first full-length film, and despite these complexities, his approach is simple, functional, and descriptive. In assembling these fragments of reality he aims to depict deeper ideas than can be seen with the eye alone.

6:45 pm: Eisenstein’s masterpiece Battleship Potemkin commemorates the Revolution of 1905, and, indirectly, that of 1917. Conditions on board the armored cruiser Potemkin are deplorable, conveyed by shocking close-ups of maggots infesting the ship’s meat. Enraged, the loyal crew contemplates the unthinkable—mutiny. They seize control of the ship and raise the red flag of revolution; their revolt becomes the rallying point for a Russian populace crushed beneath the heels of the tsar’s Cossacks. When the ruthless tsarist soldiers arrive to suppress the rebellion, a massacre ensues on the grand Odessa Steps leading to the city’s port. The scene is one of the most famous and most-quoted sequences in cinema history for its pioneering use of montage.