Man With a Movie Camera

Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Dziga Vertov

REVIEWED: 11-30-98

As part of its Soviet avant-garde series of treasures from the silent Russian cinema, Kino International has released a new version of Dziga Vertov's 1929 classic, a record of dusk-to-dawn life in Moscow intended to demonstrate a new principle of cinematic realism called Kino-Eye. The Soviet film theoretician conceived of the camera as a disconnected eye, free to record events from superhuman perspectives.

If that sounds dry, brace yourself for a shock: At less than an hour, the film is a whirling delight, a kinetic overload of motion, elation, and unrestrained optimism. Accompanied by a bustling new Alloy Orchestra score that owes more to Carl Stalling than to Prokofiev, Vertov's plucky cameraman (who appears throughout) dodges trains, prowls factories, leans out of moving cars, and attempts to represent sound visually with pumping pistons and whirring wheels. Lest we forget this is cinema, Vertov films the audience responding to the film. Some of his wiggiest effects would seem to violate the idea of verit. But that's the intoxicating power of making movies--you start out trying to record realism, and you end up animating a plate full of prawns.

--Jim Ridley

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