Power of Pictures Talkbacks

Man With a Movie Camera

Power of Pictures Talkbacks Man With a Movie Camera | Events Calendar
Still from Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, 1929, black-and-white film, 68 min. Image provided by Deutsche Kinemathek.

Upper E Side

The Jewish Museum | 1109 5th Ave

Louis Menashe leads a discussion following a screening of Man with a Movie Camera. (Dziga Vertov, 1929, 68 min). Menashe is Professor Emeritus of History at Polytechnic institute of NYU and Associate Editor of Cineaste magazine. His book, Moscow Believes in Tears: Russians and Their Movies was named "Outstanding Academic Title" in 2011 by Choice, the publication of the American Library Association. He has been a consultant to the film division of the Museum of Modern Art and to ABC Television, and was Associate Producer for the award winning PBS documentaries, Inside Gorbachev’s USSR (1990) and In the Shadow of Sakharov (1991).

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.

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