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Dziga Vertov: Wild Man of Soviet Montage

Dziga Vertov is currently the subject of an extensive retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This includes a symposium on the great Russian director’s work, featuring scholars, artists and filmmakers like William Kentridge, Peter Kubelka, Guy Maddin and Michael Nyman. It also boasts the U.S. premiere of a new, supposedly definitive restoration of Vertov’s revolutionary Man with the Movie Camera from 1929, which has long been my favorite Soviet film of its era; it is the movie I show most frequently in classes to illustrate the principles of montage editing and one can only hope this version will turn up in Chicago theaters soon.

The Soviet Montage movement, which produced some of the most groundbreaking and influential films of all time, began in Russia in the early 1920s and lasted for roughly a decade before government pressure brought an unfortunately abrupt end to a cycle of movies known for their adventurous formal and intellectual qualities. Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camera, originally released in 1929, provides both a shining example of Montage filmmaking and a good reason why the movement had to come to a premature end.

Vertov’s contemporary Sergei Eisenstein offered a widely accepted definition of montage when he wrote that “montage is an idea that arises from the collision of independent shots.” In other words, the true meaning of a film sequence should lie in the way that it is edited, arising not just from what happens within individual shots but from the juxtaposition of these images against one another. The major Soviet directors of this era (Eisenstein, Vertov, Vsevelod Pudovkin and the Ukrainian Alexander Dovzhenko) might have had different ideas about how montage should be employed but they all agreed on its central importance as the basis for creating and understanding movies.

“Dziga Vertov,” a Russian phrase that literally translates as “spinning top,” was the pseudonym of director David Kaufman, a fitting name for the wild man of the Soviet Montage movement. Man with the Movie Camera is Vertov’s best known work and it is typical of his artistry in that it is difficult to classify; it is part documentary and part experimental movie – with a few elements of narrative continuity filmmaking sprinkled in for good measure. Before the film proper begins, a title informs us that we are about to witness “an experiment in the language of pure cinema.” As this would indicate, Vertov was obsessed with the mechanics of filmmaking, especially cinematography and editing, to the point where they ultimately became the subject of his work. It’s as if he wanted to use the film medium to explicitly call attention to the tools of his trade by inviting viewers to share in his wonder and amazement at how those tools could record and transform reality.

Vertov was in particular fascinated by the camera lens, which he repeatedly and cleverly compared to a “cinema eye” recording daily life. His philosophy can be summed up in his 1923 manifesto Kinoks: A Revolution: “I am kino-eye. I am builder. I have placed you, whom I’ve created today, in an extraordinary room which did not exist until just now when I also created it. In this room there are twelve walls shot by me in various parts of the world. In bringing together shots of walls and details, I’ve managed to arrange them in an order that is pleasing and to construct with intervals, correctly, a film-phrase which is the room.”

Although Man with the Movie Camera does not feature a narrative in any conventional sense, it can be said that there are two “stars” in the movie. One is the Russian people en masse. This is the respect in which the film fits into the “city symphony” mold – a genre encompassing abstract studies of major cities around the world that attempt to show off the uniqueness of each city’s architecture and people through musical editing rhythms. (A Propos de Nice, Manhatta and Berlin: Symphony of a Great City are all notable examples.) One of the central ideas behind the city symphony films is that the people who live in each particular city form a kind of collective hero for the movie. Interestingly, Man with the Movie Camera was mostly shot in Moscow but, in an analog to Vertov’s “room with twelve walls,” it is ultimately a composite city that also contains footage of Odessa and Kiev.

The other “star” of the movie is what really sets Man with the Movie Camera apart from the other city symphony films: Mikhail Kaufman, the film’s cinematographer as well as its title character. Throughout the film we see Kaufman at work, filming with his camera and, in a meta-device decades ahead of its time, we also see the footage that he’s shooting elsewhere in the movie! For Kaufman and Vertov, brothers in real life, the act of filmmaking was clearly a joyous, adventurous, athletic activity. Watching the two of them prove that a camera can be positioned virtually anywhere, from the depths of a coal mine to the handlebars of a speeding motorcycle, is an exhilarating, head-spinning experience. (The shots of Kaufman at work were taken by a second cinematographer, Gleb Troyanski.) But the production of Man with the Movie Camera was a family affair in more ways than one: Vertov’s wife Yelizaveta Svilova was the film’s editor. Characteristically, Vertov included shots of her editing the movie within the movie – a fitting tribute to a woman with a Herculean task to perform.

Incredibly, Man with the Movie Camera has an average shot length of less than 2 and a half seconds, an astonishingly fast pace for a film from the silent era. (The pacing is comparable to contemporary Hollywood action films such as the Bourne franchise.) And yet whenever I show the film in class, I’ve noticed some students invariably grow restless and bored. I think this is because, although some of them find it gratifying purely as a piece of kaleidoscopic eye candy, the absence of a traditional narrative to pull the audience through the experience means that viewers must be unusually active in parsing Vertov’s montage sequences in order to make sense of his underlying ideas. And because of the rapid pace, which allows Vertov to throw out more ideas per minute than you can shake a stick at, each viewer is likely to come away with his or her own interpretation of “what it all means.”

For me personally, the film resonates as a humane portrait of a teeming metropolis, the diversity of which is signaled by a series of contrasting images: rich and poor, work and play, marriage and divorce, life and death. These images don’t conflict with each other as they do in the more propagandistic films of Eisenstein. Rather, through their synthesis, they reveal something profoundly true about the lives of ordinary men and women who live in the city; the Russian people captured by the brothers Kaufman and their movie camera over eighty years ago are not so different than the Chicagoans I see and interact with every day. This radical brand of self-reflexive humanism may not be for all tastes but that was the case even in 1929. Vertov’s film, made during the regime of Joseph Stalin, was accused of being formalist and esoteric, leading to a government mandated policy that Soviet films should adhere to the principles of “social realism” and be simple enough to be understood by all audiences. Yet Man with the Movie Camera is still able to speak across nations and time to people of different political persuasion today. I suspect it will continue to do so for as long as movies are shown.

There are several versions of Man with the Movie Camera available on DVD. My favorite is the one released by Image Entertainment featuring a score by the Alloy Orchestra based on musical instructions written by Dziga Vertov himself.

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

133 responses to “Dziga Vertov: Wild Man of Soviet Montage

  • Gus

    I loved MwtMC, but I wonder if the influence of the Soviet Government served as a muse for Vertov, or did it act as a restrictive. Did he benefit from the structure and limitations? I guess it may not be relevant, because it would be possible for a Soviet Montage style film to feature non-soviet subjects.

  • michaelgloversmith

    You ask an interesting question, Gus. I think it’s probably true to say that the Soviet government acted as both a muse AND a restrictive for Vertov (it’s just a matter of trying to figure out the ratio). MWTMC certainly wasn’t the kind of movie they wanted him to make even if he intended it to be a tribute to the glories of his country.

    It is, of course, possible to love your country while simultaneously disagreeing with your government; ask any red-blooded American who protested our criminal and insane invasion of Iraq.

  • suzidoll

    I saw MwtMC at Ebertfest last year with the Alloy Orchestra providing the music/score. It was a terrific experience.

  • suzidoll

    Also, to weigh in on Gus’s comment: I think Vertov’s approach to montage came in part because of practical restrictions. For many reasons, including the closing of the borders after the Bolsheviks came to power, film equipment and raw film stock were extremely low in supply. Early filmmakers actually made “new” films by re-editing found footage, which is a terrific way to learn to think in “montage-style.”

    Also, there was a wave of creativity in the arts at the beginning of the revolution, inspired by what was perceived as positive change (few had any love for the Czar). It was an era of experimentation and innovation in painting and fine art as well as theater and film, which was actually fostered under Lenin. As a matter of fact, Vertov took his name “spinning top” as a way to capture or comment on the excitement of the times. After Lenin’s death, the atmosphere completely changed, and the arts and artists found themselves in a completely different situation.

    In short, I would say Vertov benefited by the socio-political changes at first but it didn’t last long.

  • michaelgloversmith

    Suzi, great points about the montage-style organically growing out of the socio-economic climate of the time.

    I would love to see this with live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra. My fear is that the new restoration is going to be released on blu-ray and dvd in the best possible image quality but without the Alloy Orchestra score!

  • Jacqueline V.

    As much as I would want to agree with the purpose of the film and the direction the experiment took, I have to say this type of film would not seem like something new and abstract in our day an age. To the exposure of reality TV shows to YouTube vlogs, many of the same techniques of cutting to place to place all in our day is exposed to our eyes more than we like to believe. The elements of the film that were seen as art I felt were random shots to fill in time. I didn’t connect to the film but found some moments of contrast in everyday life were a nice touch.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Jacqueline, even though I told you your response didn’t need to be as long as a regular screening report, your remarks here are still way too vague and I can only give you half-credit. What you’ve written could’ve been written by someone who paid no attention to the movie and didn’t read my blog post. You need to at least show me that you’ve seen Vertov’s film and ideally also say something of substance about it. Further, even if you didn’t personally care for the film, your assertion that it doesn’t seem “new” in our day and age was disproven by the reactions of some of your classmates, one of whom you heard announce that it was the “greatest thing” he’s “ever seen,” as well as the 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll that I mentioned in class (which placed it eighth on the greatest films of all time list). Man with the Movie Camera has proven itself to be an important and influential work, one that is still of enormous interest today. It’s up to you to show me that you understand WHY that is – even if it’s not to your personal taste. I will gladly give you more credit if you would like to rewrite your response to include a discussion of the filmmakers’ actual use of montage editing as discussed in class and in your textbook (preferably backed up by a specific example or two from the film). Thanks!

  • Arpad Lep

    I feel that the theme underlying Man with the Movie Camera is more than a mature take on the portrait of truth and beauty that is “national cinema.” The cuts may be fast throughout, but the pace of the film is not one set rate. As the movie progresses, civilization swells. More people, more industry, trolleys juxtaposed on top of trolley on top of trolleys. By the end of the film, the streets are so full of chaos the buildings topple over, as if the basin is overflowing.
    The entire time the camera shows both sides of the coin. I mean, the Kaufman literally turns the camera around in one shot, and a contrary view is depicted in the next series of shots. The rich and the poor, death and birth, luxury and poverty.
    When I watch MwtMC, I see chaos, civilization rise, and authority comes in to shape it. Authority comes in to direct traffic. And from control- luxury. But also we see the cost of luxury- turmoil of the lower classes can be cultivated into industrial production and wealth for the authorities.

    There’s a scene with a car full of well dressed, jazz age looking women zipping around the city, shots of Kaufman in another car filming the first car (shot from a third, unseen car), and, my favorite part, one of the flappers emulating the cameraman, cranking invisible film through invisible sprockets.
    From this, I take a step back. Sure, there’s an audience IN the film, they’re inarguably a part of it, but is the audience I’m a part of also a part of the film?
    The camera is the eye of the film, and the editor is the mind, seeing all sides and then assembling it into a story. The camera/eye is in the city, in the film. And they show the editing in the film, but the actual editing, the assembling of the movie is something that exists outside of the content of the film itself. Dig? So am i, the audience, outside Man with the Movie Camera, but not separate from it.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Arpad, I like your assertion that we, the viewers, are part of the film as well. (In Soviet Russia, movie watches YOU!) This idea is most pronounced in the lovely prologue, which, lest we forget, takes place in a movie theater: the patrons filing in and waiting for the movie to start mirror our own position as spectators waiting for The Man with the Movie Camera to begin. And, of course, the film ends in the same theater (the serpent swallowing its tale!) while the patrons are watching shots on a cinema screen that we have just seen elsewhere in the film (e.g., Kaufman cranking his camera while riding a motorcycle).

      The woman emulating the cameraman is my favorite moment in the film — and one of my favorite moments in any film.

  • Kashif Uddin

    I believe that the MwtMC underlines the hidden beauty of everyday life if we make ourselves into a silent presence that just observes then we would be able to see the beauty and complexity of the world around us. We go about our lives with one set routine, wake up, get ready for work/school, come back, eat and sleep. I believe that the montage editing allowed for a concise depiction of how the city just turns on with the rise of the sun. The people within the city act as gears, cogs, and often times as catalysts to get the city rolling like a steam engine. The editing created a quick fast-pace simulation of a machine doing several things quickly which shows the population working in harmony.
    The camera used by Vertov’s brother is that presence because we get to have an all-seeing view of the world, not matter what is going on. We see several shots of where numerous things are taking place at the same time and we get to see many of them. For example, we got to see how a woman got ready in the morning, similarly we saw the buses and trolleys rollout of their stables. Another great example of how the camera was the all-seeing eye, is how we saw the montage of the marriage/divorce, life/death. A couple was getting wed, then it was followed by the scene of a woman weeping at a grave, then back to a couple getting divorced and then a woman giving birth. The birth scene was quite a unique experience for me, because I have never seen anything like that, and honestly I was a bit like “whoa.” We see life beginning with the birth of the baby, death with the woman weeping, love with the marriage, and divorce.
    The camera placement was very elaborate and purposeful. This made a statement about how the camera is acting as a governmental eye that monitors everything. For example, the camera was placed up on a smoke stack and between trolley carts. This showed that any space were being monitored. What I thought was surprising was the people and how they interacted with the camera. Some of them did not care about it. I believe that Vertov used the montage editing in order to preserve the natural beauty of the city rather capturing the population acting differently in front of the camera. There were parts where the public knew about the camera, but that added to how the audience also played the role in the movie.
    I absolutely loved the film, and the score for the film was absolutely perfect.

  • Christina Lane

    Man with the movie Camera is no doubt a masterpiece. The film editing and cinematography was ahead of its time. I honestly was not expecting so many different film techniques I saw in the film because of the time in which it was created. For example, a lot of superimpose was used, like in the shot where the human eye is superimposed on a camera lens eye. This creates meaning that the eye of the camera is the eye of the director. The vision of the director is captured by the camera. Another really cool technique used was the stop motion scene. It was done flawlessly! I’ll admit, I’ve always been a film noir, pre-code, French nouvelle vague, kind of girl but I am definitely looking into move Soviet montage films.

  • Ruth Marquez

    After reading Prof. Smith’s response to the movie, I had a better idea of the meaning of the movie. I understand that the shot lengths and the montage sequences have a purpose. It is interesting how Vertov used shots to contrast the “humane portrait of a teeming metropolis” and how we live everyday as Prof. Smith mentioned in the response. I also appreciated how Vertov gives life to the camera, music, city, and the people; while the time passes the four subjects follow a rhythm. The people and the camera open their eye and the city starts to go on (machines, cars, people start to work while the camera operator and the editor are working as well).

    • michaelgloversmith

      The “teeming metropolis” in the film (which is not one city but three made to look like one) is very similar to Chicago in the present day, no? Vertov’s use of montage creates order out of the chaos of urban living — and gives it a musical rhythm besides!

  • Zachary B.

    Man with the Movie Camera is a very interesting film from a technical and artistic point of view, yet I found the movie dull and hard to watch. I would say not only how much this film helps us understand the importance of shot structure and imagery, but also story and pacing structure as well. Yes, the uses of metaphors and side by side imagery is spectacular, even to this age, but the pacing of this film as a whole doesn’t seem to stop and, to my experience, left me lost almost half way thought the film. A story in a film really helps people not to get lost in a flood of pictures. I often found myself getting lost because of drastic changes that were unbenounced to me and would cause me to think way more into the shot, which made me get farther behind on the film as it progressed. This really shows me that you need to find a balance in your film and not to strictly stick to one technique over another.
    But this being said, I do still consider this a masterpiece, Mr. Smith, but I don’t fully agree that it will hold up as well over time. We have the same techniques used in a lot of films, even in our home movies and low budget TV shows. Heck, some directors and producers use these techniques as a crutch to fill in time for their videos. I really don’t think this film will be remembered as fondly as other of its era. It most likely will be left in a display case, gathering dust, being marked as turning place for film history. Which is not what this film or director deserves.

    • michaelgloversmith

      You don’t think it will “hold up over time”?! Well, it’s been doing a pretty good job for the first 84 years! Zach, MWTMC has continually been revived, re-released and written about ever since its release in 1929 when most of the OTHER films of that era have already been forgotten about.

      Your comments here emphasize your own subjective response too much and don’t really tell me anything about the movie itself or Vertov’s use of montage editing. I understand it’s not the easiest movie to watch (especially if you’ve been weaned on Hollywood) but just because you are only used to watching movies that tell stories does not mean that every film “needs” to tell a story.

  • Victor Padilla

    Man with the Movie Camera was really surprisingly amazing! At first i did not see the point in watching a bunch of small clips of random stuff. Well at the beginning, in my sense it was random clips being collaged together. Then after keeping up with the movie, I realize the point Dziga Vertof was trying to make was really simple and straight forward. As the movie kept going all this thoughts started popping up in my head. This movie, I believe, was made to the public off course, but since this movie has so much going on is really easy to take different points off view. One person can say something about it and another person can see something else in the movie. He used something called montage scenes meaning he edit many scenes to compress the informtion. That was what made it so fascinating. It was going by so quick that you could not have been bored watching this film. I really think that Dziga did an amazing job in making this film. It was well done and very inspiring for many people like myself. Before this film was made, he was a documentary film maker. He tried incorporation his skills in this movie and it was a success no doubt about.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I’m glad you say that you came to realize it is “simple and straightforward.” That side to it is definitely there! I think a lot of people assume there’s a point that they’re supposed to be getting but aren’t and this makes them frustrated — when, in reality, they’ve “gotten” what there is all along!

  • Dakota Evans

    Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camera is a spectacular display of the montage filming technique. At first glance, the film left me questioning the meaning behind the film; in a modern film era of Hollywood-esque, story driven films with large explosions or gooey love scenes (and sometimes both in the same film), a film such as Vertov’s can often confuse the audience. With no story and no main characters, I was left asking myself whether there was a point to the film in whole. I believe the lack of narrative develops the meaning of the film, as the film tells the story of a body of people as a whole. What Vertov does, is rather than telling the story of one man, or even a group of people, he tells the story of a family, a culture, a well oiled machine that works day in and day out without fail. His rapid use of editing leaves very small emphasis on a single person, which gives all of the faces in the film a symbolic meaning, as the film shows that this city could be anywhere, with any people. The universality of the film allows it to be adapted to any culture, as we all face love, death, birth, marriage, divorce, entertainment, government influence, and even sports (depicted in the last half of the film). People have stated that the film is had to adjust to because of its vague and general concept, but I believe this concept is the reason this film is so fantastic; it allows a connection to any and all persons, despite culture, despite beliefs, despite being almost a century in the future, I could look at this film and see the story of not just one city, but any city, busy, crowded, but despite all this, still breathing, growing, and prospering.

  • Megan Mia Galarza

    Hi Proffesor!

    Where do i begin!

    Okay in the film MWTMC, I was very much in love with the composition and as a photographer I have seen a lot of what he captured in his films as stills. One of the most common I have seen is the lense of the camera or taking a photo of someone taking a photo. Although it is super played out in current times. I absolutely love that he showed us the connection of camera and man and although I am not a cinematographer I can still relate to how fun photography can be and the way he compared the opening and closing of blinds to the opening and closing of the woman’s eye when she awakes simply blew me away. Because I feel a lot of todays trends in photography and cinematography makes us feel that those shots are knew cool and hip but infact are a lot older then we realize or our even shown. And that also saddens me just how much people just copy and paste ideas and even the bit of the stop motion of the camera I had NO IDEA people did so early on and how not new that technique is. But for me I feel that hip people play on these ideas as if its their own and its NOT!
    So I really appreciate watching the film because it really isn’t appreciated in current modern times in my eyes. I’ve always felt that things of this nature that show the beginning of art should be taught early on. I went home after that film and told my bf how angry I was at how society and media plays out on ideas that aren’t originally theirs and don’t state or reference where techniques began and how we learn later on.

    I honestly felt lied to by a lot of artists I know. Very true statement.

    But enough about me hating the media and copy cat artists I truly loved the film and as a photographer I totally get the process of capturing an image and that the camera can literally go anywhere and in some cases not where you expect like the birthing of that baby. Totally caught me off guard but again this film was great and I feel it should even be shown in some photography classes due to the relation of man to lense

  • Erik Arroyo

    Man with the Movie Camera is a very well done film for its time. Say if it was made recently it wouldn’t be as well thought of as it is now. I’m not taking anything away from the film because it was very interesting and well put together and to think that this film was made in 1929 is ridiculous. My favorite part of the film was when the blinds were opening and closing and then the editor made it look like it was the lady blinking. Then they decide to compare it to the camera lens opening and closing and that was just genius. The spilt screens were also a great addition to all the metaphors. This movie basically shows us life and death and everything around that sums up life, like the poor and the wealthy or hardworking people waking up to do their jobs. While all of this is happening it still shows us that the editor is also a hard worker.

  • Lily Martinez

    Man with a camera was a movie I enjoyed watching simply because there was always something coming and the pace. As a viewer you never knew what to expect. For example, at times you would see the camera man climbing or walking somewhere, and then later would see the actual shots taken from the spot he was trying to get to. It also was able to capture humor into it. There where scenes that spoke on their own. The poster that had the man with his finger to his mouth as if it where telling you to be quiet, as well as the signs to let you know where you where. Overall, I enjoyed watching the movie, but I not a cinema critique, therefore I focused on enjoying it more than analyzing it.

  • Matt Caraher

    In my first time viewing the film exhaustion was the first thing I felt. The film lacking a traditional narrative did not allow for the normal more passive viewing that I have grown accustomed to. However, this is no way took away from the overall enjoyment.
    As you mentioned the life of people in the city then and now in many ways mirror one another. In my first viewing this aspect more than any other got me through the onslaught of visual information.

  • Michell A

    This was actually my second time watching MwtMC. The first time I watched it (and I suppose this applies to plenty of films) was much more surprising. Maybe because I simply don’t expect people of that time period to have such an extravagant vision, to think so far outside the box. As mentioned above, my first time watching the film, I yearned to find a plot line, in the most conventional sense of the word. I then realized that the best way for me to appreciate the film was to forget about conventionality. Foremost, specially watching it a second time, what resonates with me is its creativity. Montage, camera angles, double exposure, split screen, etc. are all incredibly impressing because they seem innovative. I think what appeals most to me is the aspect of the film being experimental rather than a documentary. The setting, a busy city, I think, was mostly a genius choice to display all this magnificent artwork at play. Of course it also speaks to the nature of the city’s workings and its inhabitants, but without the kaleidoscopic eye (as you so perfectly described it), a city is just a city and the film is just a very long moving photograph. A perspective is produced when the aspects of film editing, specially with montage, are applied to the film. There’s a sense of chaos because each shot is so short, which is how most cities behave– they are very fast-paced. However, each individual person that makes a part of this city, are simply living; the chaos that the viewer sees is not chaotic to each individual person. In fact, it is normality.It is the compilation of its inhabitants living, working, and while some are dying, there are others being born, that make the location a city.A bustling one at that, which is important to point out, because since there is no sound, the chaotic shots help it to appear that way.

    I also wanted to lightly point out, and I just thought of this, of the eye as a camera lens as a foreshadowing or a premonition– “Big Brother is watching You”. Sad to think that in this film, the camera is used a tool to create, but now a camera can also be used to destroy. Strange.

  • Marcus A.

    Man with a Movie Camera can be looked at as a film that may pose as too much of a challenge for the audience to follow, given it’s wide array of techniques such as the freeze frames, jump cuts, and the stop animation. But it’s these techniques, coupled with the fantastically done editing process, that make Man with a Movie Camera a spectacular film both artistically and technically. Even from the first few shots, where the shot opens up with a camera and then the audience sees a cameraman positioned on top of the camera and beginning to film, were wonderful. What really sets this movie, and more than likely others from the same era, apart from conventional films is not only the spectacular editing, but the overall absence of a story. Audiences now are too used to first,looking at who’s starring in the movie and second, what the film is about, before making a yay or nay decision before going to see it. I think with the absence of a narrative, the film is ambiguous enough to be interpreted in so many different ways by the audience because it doesn’t suffer from the restrictions of having to make a story make sense in a certain amount of time. As for editing, it is really interesting to see editing this fast while also being sharp and well done in a film outside of the action genre. The only question that I have now is whether or not Quentin Tarrantino studied these movies before starting his own career, because I got a vibe of the earliest sense of nonlinear storytelling in this film.

  • Margarita P.

    Dziga Vertov’s silent film Man with the Movie Camera does fulfill the definition of a film montage. The array of images he uses to create the film relates to everyday life. The critique of Vertov’s film was very accurate. It had a very strong sense of symbolism and metaphors. Although some parts of the film happened without order nor make sense. One part of the film that was very in depth with meaning was Vertov’s scenes of marriage, divorce, birth of life and death. Vertov was phenomenal in conveying messages within the film. A very strong aspect was filming the camera man with another camera because it validated that the images were for its time. Vertov’s film was not really a film of interest for me but for its time made sense. Everyone likes a role bender towards the Russian government.
    Vertov’s wife should be given considerable amount of credit for editing the film. Had she not chosen the shots she did and worked laboriously to compile them the movie would it not be as well-known as it is? The montage film is not a method of cinematography I would prefer to watch because there is not a lot of structure to it. It was a very original idea to place the camera in different areas which made it so bold. My question is why did he choose the areas he did to make the film?

  • Leonel

    I have to agree with a previous comment.From the moment the film began i felt as if i was watching a video on youtube. It wasn’t long after that, that i wanted to exit out either. There were shots in the film that I enjoyed like the camera under the train or those of the rail carts but that was about. I felt as if there was to much going on to even hold my attention and did not really enjoy watching the film.

  • Maya W

    Interesting points! I’ll admit I was too focused on taking notes in class to really make any cool, unique observations. I will say that I also like the symbolic meaning of Dziga Vertov as “spinning top” and it really fits the movie’s pace and character. In the film, we continually return to a lot of the same shots such as the trolley and town square. A spinning top does the same thing metaphorically speaking since it goes at a fast pace in a repetitive motion before finally stopping. The film went at a rapid pace and repeated many of its effects such as stop motion, split screen, and the Kuleshov Effect before finally slowing down and stopping.
    Another interesting thing that you pointed out was the idea behind using the Russian people as the “star” of the film. It was a very ingenious, fiscally savvy tactic to use regular people and cleverly edit the footage that was captured of their everyday activities. It felt more genuine too than similar tactics used today to make regular people the “star”, such as contests for being an extra in a Hollywood film. Whereas the example I gave is a recent marketing gimmick, showing footage of couples at a marriage/divorce registrar and juxtaposing it against split screen footage of trolleys converging or separating really gives the feel that this is real life that is being shown on the screen and that it’s not a mere tool for capturing audience interest.

  • Zheng Wang

    Man With a Movie Camera was a very abstract experimental film of the Soviet Montage genre, very much different from the Hollywood blockbusters we watch today. The shots are extremely fast and there was no conventional plot; however it seems to tell the story of everyday city life. Also it was neat how the family worked together in the production of the film, and how a lot of it was documented in the film itself. The music played a huge part in setting the mood of the film, as it is a silent film. Although there were no words, images of life in the city told the story, many of which contrasted each other. I think today, the techniques used in the film are nothing special. However, 80 years ago, this film must have been groundbreaking. On the other hand, the deep, philosophical ideas will never become dated.

  • Theresa Mossholder

    Vertov and his wife use the tool of editing very effectively in the film. I enjoyed how to film started out inside a movie theater, showing an audience the film we were watching, and ended with us watching the audience inside the theater. Another interesting scene I enjoyed was the split screen mash up with multiple shots. This to me nailed montage editing because it has many parts to it making it hard to take in everything at one time. Although I did enjoy the film, at times it gave me a headache from too much motion.

  • Alexandra

    This was by far the most amazing film I have ever seen in my life. As you said in your essay, juxtaposition plays a huge part in making a beautiful montage. And Vertov’s juxtaposition was unbelievable. The way that he was able to tell such a moving story, when there was really no narrative…I mean that barely even sounds possible. My favorite two scenes by far had to be the scene in the factory that kept flashing back the to scene with the women answering the phones. Had I seen that in a normal silent film, I would be bored out of my mind. But the music with it was so incredible, and the way he shot it was amazing. I love the way the music went with every cigarette box that was folded and every pile of cigarettes that was put into each box. The other scene that stood out to me was the life and death scene. I know this is probably everyone’s favorite…but just the way he was able to capture so many different feelings in a matter of seconds was just unreal. I didn’t even know how to feel. One second it was happy life, then sad death, then happy marriage and sad divorce. He pulls so many feelings out. And the way he made the camera lenses look like an eye. Amazing. I loved all the shots of the movie being shot and edited. It was like he was doing a day in the life of the city and a day in the life of him shooting a day in the life of the city. It was crazy. I really could go on and on. It was a masterpiece.

  • Nadia Mauladina

    Dziga Vertov had managed to transform quotidian lives into an intriguing work of art with this movie. There are so many things going on in this movie that makes it a little bit hard to draw a single conclusion from it. The editing brilliantly shows the juxtaposition of two different social and economic classes that can be found in any places. Which is interesting, because he shows the differences between people lifestyles while simultaneously comparing and correlating human body parts and people routines with various machines. As if people are more closely connected with lifeless machines than with others.

    • damar

      keren.The editing brilliantly shows the juxtaposition of two different social and economic classes that can be found in any places….

  • Richard Leigh

    First of all great review!! Some things in this movie I couldn’t understand but how you worded it placed things in a better prospective. While I agree that there are stars in the movie I think that instead of the German mass being the star I thought more so that society in General was the star of this movie. I say this because this movie was filmed over the course of 5 years and in those years it doesn’t seem like much change has happened in terms of how people act and do things. Also many themes on the movie such as life and death and life moving at a certain pace in different times of the day is universal.

  • Andrea Pyatt

    You said someting after class last week that I found interesting. You said that the first time that you saw this movie it made you think that Russia is a nice place to live. This may have been one of Vertov’s motivations in making this movie. He may have been trying to tell foreign audiences that Solviet Russia is a nice place to live with this movie. I enjoyed how he showed everything as is and the idea of a movie within a movie was great. I am not sure if that was done before this movie or not, but either way it was quite innovative. This movie was very active and I am sure that Vertov had not problem getting and keeping the attention of his audience. This was a great movie and you gave a great review.

  • dejahammond

    When you first introduced the film I knew then it would be difficult for me to understand. When ever I watch a film i like to focus on the backgrounds, or the extras, basically everything but the main focus of that shot. I agree there were times where i just wanted it to be over but a few scenes caught my eye. I remember when there was music playing while the orchestra was setting up and it seemed like the music was never going to end so it kind of built up the suspense there. I definitely wouldn’t say it was my favorite film but certain parts of it really intrigued me. I loved the rawness of it, and how he didn’t feel scared to put a woman giving birth or how he shows death. It showed how life was back then and through every like or dislike I have about the movie, I have to respect that. I do have a statement/question. How on earth did all those people allow him to film them, especially the women in the hospital. I’m just wondering what was going on through his and their minds while this was going on….

  • zizi

    After watching Man with the Movie Camera, I was amazed with his use of montage editing. The way that he showed the city, the buildings, and so many different people’s faces made the movie very interesting. I thought Dziga did a really amazing job. I am so fascinated by his way of editing and showing daily life. Even though technology has drastically change since that time, I still believe that even with the poorest technology you can create something incredible for the audience. Even though I am from today’s generation I am so fascinated by Dziga’s movie. If I feel this way about his movie, being from today, I wonder how people reacted to it back then. Reading professor Smith’s article, really helped me understand the film and the Soviet Montage movement a lot more. It also gave me more of an appreciation for this type of movie. I feel the same way as professor Smith about bringing this movie to Chicago theaters.

  • Therese L

    After watching Man with the Movie Camera, I was in shock with the creative montage editing that Dziga Vertov used in the film. Although I found some of the movie to be increasing boring, the rapid montages are about the only thing that kept me wanting to see more and more what the film was all about. I did not have a favorite part of the film because it all seemed so very fast and chaotic and confusing, but then again that is what intrigued me about this film. In my opinion, this whole entire movie was a form of experimentation in the cinema world during that era and was Vertov’s way of stylizing his film making. From my understanding, this movie is important because it proves that film can go just about anywhere and do just about anything. Vertov’s way of portraying the daily life of everyday people was astonishing (seeming as how technology wasn’t at it’s finest back then). Reading your review on this movie definitely helped me understand the Soviet Montage movement in a greater capacity than before and has broadened my mind on film.

  • Lachhi Pokhrel

    I felt like this is a different cinematic experience of my life
    After I watched the documentary movie “Man with the Movie Camera.” While watching the movie, I was excepting the title of Movie like the other regular movies but it just start with the scene where there is a man, who is up on the top with movie camera; which expressed the TITTLE OF THE MOVIE and I though it is unique creativity of Dziga Vertov. This documentary does not have any particular subject; nevertheless, it has covered up everything things that happen in our life. The MwtMC of 1929 has the power and strength – “STORY” which is the essential need for any kind of movie weather that in 19th century or now on 21st century. When I was watching the movie, I feel like “Ohh, this is boring” and continued watching till the end and I felt “JUST WOW!” Someone has mentioned something like all the audiences are the actors in the movie; well I agree, there isn’t any particular actor/actress playing roll, but there are thousands of citizens and their daily bases life story. The perfect shots with the perfect timing through the different angles, I believe there must be at least 3-4 cameras for this MONTAGE. Couple of different Scenes presented together with the contrast. Examples as per the movie: there is crying baby on side than there is also a happy adult, A birth of child and a death of a woman, A happy couple getting wed and a sad and depressed couple getting diverse, A rice and a poor, and etc and etc. There is no action, no play just a simple regular story of citizen. Likewise, how a woman wakes up, get dress- gets ready and start her life. It does not have any tragic start or happy ending or other way around because there isn’t any script, it is just a simply life of our, the audiences and their, the directors and producers. Overall, I liked the movie very much, how Vertov has had present a whole life of men in hours of movie, highlighting the Soviet Montage Movement.

  • Christina Lane

    *A bit more added

    Man with the movie Camera is no doubt a masterpiece. The film editing and cinematography was ahead of its time. I honestly was not expecting so many different film techniques I saw in the film because of the time in which it was created. For example, a lot of superimpose was used, like in the shot where the human eye is superimposed on a camera lens eye. This creates meaning that the eye of the camera is the eye of the director. The vision of the director is captured by the camera. Another really cool technique used was the stop motion scene. It was done flawlessly! I’ll admit, I’ve always been a film noir, pre-code, French nouvelle vague, kind of girl but I am definitely looking into move Soviet montage films.

    One of the many parts I found amazing was when his wife was editing the film. Stills of the film strips were shown and then brought to life.It shows how incredible editing really is. His wife was a trooper because that was, I believe 3 years worth of film that needed to be edited. I also loved the how the editing created compare and contrast scenes. For example, a woman is shown getting a manicure while the next shot shows women using their hands for work. This film should be watched an endless amount of times because there are new ideas a viewer can create each time. I believe it takes more than one time to digest a film such as this. Also, have you seen The Story of Film:An Odyssey and is Soviet montage mentioned? Someone recommended that documentary to me.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I own The Story of Film on DVD and frequently show excerpts from it in class. Yes, it does cover Soviet montage pretty extensively. The whole thing is 15 and a half hours long so it’s pretty exhaustive! I highly recommend it.

  • Cherrie Rule

    I really didn’t get the whole montage ,but you broke it down in your screen report that help me to understand what montage mean. It was great to see the many shot from different angles ,it was like one big puzzle of montages the circle of life was the best montage. The movie also show great creativity for that era of movie making. I agree that movie today should bring back that syle of movie making. It seem as if he was one with camera you don’t have that kind of movie making techniques in today’s movie making.

  • Olayinka

    First of all, I will like to say great,great Film, I agree with Professor that “Man with the Movie Camera” is revolutionary because I can strongly argue that Vertov experiment is the blueprint to many multi-million ideas lately; a very good example will be instagram (IG) where users have 16 seconds to make a video, mostly about their city,themselves or anything. In addition, his experiment is very lucrative now, just ask creators of IG and if he they copied from him, there should be some sort of mechanical royalty for his family.

    There is something about the “Evergreen” statue that everyone seem to agree on. Even though the shot were short, yet they were effective shot that captured the essence of life back then but amazing still relate-able nowadays.

    Honestly, I believe he was saying “everything is Cyclic”. From Humans being born, marriage, divorce and die; on the hand machines following the same trajectory as human. I am still dazed that he did all this without a story/plot.

  • Breanna Jones

    This film seems like a firework show but on a screen of shots. This was an interesting movie to watch but really didn’t know what to say about it. I do agree that the film does have two main characters, the camera man and the people of Russia. You can defiantly see Dziga Vertov passion of the camera from the multiply shots of the camera man to the eye in the camera lens. He also shows how that back then that the camera can go anywhere and even put itself together and do a silly dance, which I loved. The film was blast of energy from the camera man of the motorcycle to the under the train shot which was one of the fascinating shots I saw in this film.

  • Dzhonea

    My first thought after your introduction in class and after watching Man with the Movie Camera was did they plan this? In the movie the clips go hand and hand and are mostly opposite shots; birth death marriage divorce, etc. So it made me wonder did Vertov film a marriage then say now I have to film a divorce? Was he trying to tell us this story, or did he just film alot of different things going on around the city and then his wife Yelizaveta decided after watching all that he brought back to but those sciences together. I think its very clever that shots of her editing the film is literally apart of the film.

    “the central ideas behind the city symphony films is that the people who live in each particular city form a kind of collective hero for the movie.” Who would that hero be?

    “Russian people captured by the brothers Kaufman and their movie camera over eighty years ago are not so different than the Chicagoans I see and interact with every day. ” This statement was an eye opener to me. For me Man with the Movie Camera was not this miraculous movie how critics viewed it. But I just figured what do I know, Im not a film maker and I haven’t even seen movies that are considered classics. I thought maybe I was missing it if this movie has stood over 80 years as one of the best. Then this comment brought it to me. This movie is timeless. What we see in this movie is pretty much what you will see today in the city I live in. Ofcourse there would be minor changes like clothing, and different technology and transportation but still the citizens would all be doing the same things that those citizens were 80 years ago. Waking up, going to work, giving birth, etc. And I think that is one of the reasons that this movie is labeled great. From what I know in music timeless is good, if someone can play a song that you made 30 years ago and can relate to it, its labeled great. And that apples to this film it’s relatable. It’s life, literally.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks for the detailed reply, Dzhonea. The concept of a “collective hero” means that ALL of the Russian people, taken together, are the hero rather than having a single individual be the hero as is the case with Hollywood films like Our Hospitality.

  • Daniel

    First off i must say that if i wasn’t for warned about this film i would have been utterly disappointed. But now that iv watched it it looked like a bunch of pointless pictures an shots of random people doing random things including the camera man, when he was taking a bath in the beach water. As i continued to watch the movie i realized that it has way more of a meaning that it seems. For example when there were shots of a woman throwing mud over a wall then the scene would switch to a woman getting make up put on her face. i felt like it had a couple of different means one was a woman working hard and the other is getting pampered, one woman is throwing mud but it looked like she was throwing mud on the woman face in the next shot because the make up was dark. I believe it makes perfect scenes when Vertov says “montage is an idea that arises from the collision of independent shots.” Those independent shots had there own meaning but were all connected in some way. I honestly feel like the average shot length of the film was not 2 and a half seconds i feel as if it was longer im not sure if it was because of the was he put together the scenes or was because he showed similar scenes multiple times. I believe the film captures montage in an unexpected but deep way because montages are usually a short clip in a movie not a feature film. Also the things Vertov were shooting were not randomly filmed. My personal favorite part was when he show the couple getting married divorced a woman sick in a hospital bed and the woman dead being pushed in the street. My first idea was he was showing examples of pain and death but I couldn’t understand why he showed the couple getting married because that was a good thing until i found out that the sick woman wasn’t really sick, instead she was having a baby then it hit me maybe he is trying to show the cycle of life happiness, disappointment, sickness, death and birth.

  • Lauren

    First I would like to say that i am so relieved after reading your essay on the film. I thought i was going crazy when I would see things that I couldn’t make sense of, such as when someone was filming another person filming something else. I don’t mean to be ignorant but I truly didn’t know that this was an idea that was thought of during that time. I wasn’t sure what the point of that process was for and it really confused me. My overall feeling when I finished the film was confusion. I know thats not something that you want to hear from reading your responses to other students entries but that is the feeling that I initially came away with. I would also like to add that after reading your essay I do understand why people consider this a great film. I now understand how fascinated that this director was with editing. That is so clearly the focus of the film. I was constantly jumping around with ideas on what each individual picture meant and I didn’t truly understand the point until the very end. At first I thought that all the people doing their daily rituals made no sense to the purpose of the film but afterwards I gathered that it was supposed to paint a picture of that time and place and to show others that aren’t from there how life was for these particular people. Now I must admit that I do not understand this film to the extent that a lot of my classmates do but after reading your essay and reflecting on what I’ve seem and trying to look at it from a different point of view I can see the meaning and how people consider it a fantastic film. One more thing I would like to add is how much respect I have for all the people that made this film. In those times it was so much harder to edit films, you couldn’t just get on your laptop and play with iMovie. So I can’t imagine how much time and effort it took his wife to edit a film like this especially since like you said the average shot length is about two and a half seconds.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks, Lauren. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you felt “confused.” I want everyone to be honest. I just don’t want detailed descriptions of one’s feelings to be the *main* *thrust* of these comments! Which wasn’t the case with your response. For the purpose of this class, I think it’s important for us to go beyond the knee-jerk “I liked it”/”I didn’t like it” responses and try to turn our subjective impressions into more objective statements about what these films are doing (regardless of how we might feel about them).

  • Phoebe Waddington

    […] Dziga, (1929), Man with a Movie Camera Film Still [ONLINE]. Available at: https://whitecitycinema.com/2011/05/04/dziga-vertov-wild-man-of-soviet-montage/ [Accessed 22 January 14]. Vertov, Dziga, (1929), Man with a Movie Camera Film Still [ONLINE]. […]

  • The Futures of Documentary Past - Luddite Robot

    […] for most of film history. From the early actualities and Flaherty’s Nanook of the North through Dziga Vertov’s montages, from avant-garde juxtapositions and more poetic treatments to journalistic approaches, pure […]

  • Omair Syed

    After watching, “Man with the Movie Camera” I was really intrigued by the way the film was showed and flowed in a very different and unusual way. For me, it was unusual because this was the first time I purely watched a movie that was this quick and contained multiple shots going at a fast pace for the entire screening. However, as the film went on it kind of slowed down to me as I came to appreciate and really like the unique and amazing style of work that Dzig Vertov had created during the 1930’s. One of the things that really stood out to me from the film is the way the film kind of compared daily lives of human beings that live in the environment of the city, to filmmaking. To give some examples, one that stood out the most for me was the fact that certain shots of an eye and shutters were shown in a montage to possibly indicate the connection that both technology and the human eye has with each other. Technology and the connection with everyday life was something that stood out to me as I watched as well. I felt like Dzig was trying to show the audience that the growth of technology during that time was really big. There was a scene where a radio was shown with the piano playing inside of it, and then when there were still shots that showed a horse, carriage, and a car showing the progression on technology. In my view, I think this also showed how life during the 1930’s was really moving fast as people were trying to find their place in society. The film showcased some contrasting shots of people who looked poor, as well as those who looked more well-off. This film makes you really think about what is going on when it comes not only to how life may have been back then but as well as how the filmmaking process is as a whole. It gave a great insight as to how movies were made back then, and showcased the amount of effort and hard work that is put in to make a film. This movie really made me try to interpret the overall sequence of shots that are being presented to the audience, and it is a film that I thought overall did a great job at making you wonder and approach it through various ways.

  • Sebastian Pieczka

    Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camera is a unique film that reveals the interesting nature of montage editing. There are many qualities of the editing style that make the film great. It is interesting to see how Vertov was heavily-focused on the mechanics of filmmaking, including cinematography and editing. The structure of the film can be considered stylized and different. One of the ways in which this is evident is during the scenes that include the people working in the city. Each of the characters that are filmed are living unique lives. Watching the filmmakers show countless strategies in regards to camera position is very intriguing. For instance, watching one of the cameramen run up a bridge was pretty funny and revealed that the filmmakers were driven to get great shots. It is also interesting to know that the film has an average shot length of less than two and a half seconds. The movie felt very fast-paced, even with the absence of a traditional narrative. There are a lot of contrasting ideas that are shown. For example, marriage and divorce are displayed one after another. Life and death are shown one after another as well. It was also interesting to see how different individuals reacted to the filmmaking. Some covered their faces, while others did not seem to show much interest. In my opinion, one of the important qualities of the film is the idea of routine. There are many moments showing the lives of men and women who live in the city. It reminds me of the concept of the movement of water. While there are scenes in the film that felt slowed-down, the scenes afterward felt faster, symbolizing routine and the relative usual. The montage sequences are assembled in a way that makes the film compelling to watch. All in all, Man with the Movie Camera is an interesting film that reveals the unique nature of montage editing. The short shot lengths, fitting music, and cinematography add to the particular qualities of the movie that make it great.

  • Tyler Flaningam

    After watching the film, it was very easy to feel overwhelmed by the imagery and just the amount sensory information that had come in the last hour. While it was almost like rapid fire shots, the editing made flow smoothly from shot to shot that there was time to get hung up on a scene or risk missing imagery of the next three. Throughout the film I was able to take away from it a reoccurring theme of everyone and everything constantly being in action. Even before the work day had started, people waking up whether in there homes or on the streets people where moving themselves forward to start the daily series of actions that make up there day to day lives. As the film went on the level and intensity of action in the urban environment only increased. People flooding the streets on the way to work, trolley cars leaving the hub and overtaking traffic. Whether people were in cars, on foot, or working on a train, they were in action, and never stopping. This theme of constant action would have stuck out to me if Vertov had stopped at just the day to day life of the city but he included such powerful images that wouldn’t be thought of as typical activities like waking up, getting dressed and commuting. The series of scenes that show the marriage license being signed paired with the signing of divorce papers and then the images of childbirth along with that of a funeral procession invoked a deeper meaning to this idea that people are always moving always in action. Even when something is just beginning or after it has ended, people are still taking action in doing so. And beyond the people involved with those events life for everyone not involved in ‘birth’ or end of something still goes. While most of my notes followed this idea of everyone and everything staying in action even death, something I wrote that still sticks with me is something put down about halfway through the film. After 30 minutes of nonstop images of all different scenery, people, and even the sequence of still shots, it felt as if no time had passed at all. I’m not sure if Vertov meant to have this effect on the audience, but it made correlate my other notes about everything being notion with idea of If we are constantly busy and never stopping, things will flash right before our eyes. These 3 second frames didn’t give me time to enjoy the beauty of Urban Russia, or stop to process how wonderfully different technology and life where in 1930s. Instead I was taken aback by nonstop imagery that cut together and edited so intensely that and all I was left with were notes about how intense and fast paced urban life is. The hustle bustle of an urban environment help this movie stand the test time because regardless of technology people are always racing to get things done in the work week. The nonstop montage was 69 minutes long, but represented an entire day in the life of Urban Russia, yet it was shot over the course of years. Years of work that for me passed by with a blink of an eye. I think I need to lie down after making that strange connection in my head.

  • Muzammil Muztar

    Before watching Man with a Movie Camera, I was very skeptical about whether I would enjoy the film because I honestly thought that it was just going to be a film with music in the background with a bunch of random shots of different things put together with no meaning. However, I actually ended up enjoying the film and realizing that there technically was a narrative. The narrative being a story about the normal day of a city. And in the normal day of a city, all kinds of things that happen throughout life are shown in the film such as birth and death, marriage and divorce, and work and play. And as you mentioned Professor Smith, how Vertov puts contrasting shots next to each other, to me is very symbolic. I believe that he is trying to suggest that there has to be a sort of balance in life. The interesting thing is that Vertov not only does this through putting shots that depict opposite things together, but also it seems that the music that is supposed to be played with the film is also suggesting that balance because the music matches exactly the type of emotion that is depicted in that specific shot, such as the contrast of music between the marriage and divorce shots. Also, as a side note, I feel that the tempo of the music really matched the pace of city life. Which leads me to another point, I remember that you said in class that Vertov left specific instructions on the type of music that should be played throughout the movie, which I found very interesting because I am assuming that almost all silent films up until that point had no specific instructions or official score. This makes me wonder if Vertov was one of the first directors to have somewhat of an official score attached to their film. Back to my previous point, I believe that Vertov was truly trying to capture the cycle of modern life. Because he feels that the camera lens is exactly like the human eye, and the human eye captures events throughout our whole lives, Vertov was in a sense, trying to almost create a recap of what an average person in the city might have seen in their life. Because of this, I feel that if someone rearranged the shots in the film with the first shot being the birth scene, and the last shot being the funeral, and all the other shots in between, together, could possibly create a whole new movie that depicts the life of an individual person. To conclude, the film is pretty overwhelming the first time you watch it, and I feel like I missed so many things. I am sure that if I re-watched it, I might have more to add on my analysis or perhaps change something with analysis. This film is truly unique and it really makes you think and try to put a story together in your head, and I think if you are open-minded enough, then you will definitely enjoy the film.

  • Nikkole Gomez

    Watching this film “Man with a Movie Camera” I can honestly say this film has all the types of movie genres. Such As comedy, drama, action, and even horror. One scene that stuck out to me the most was when we see the women editing the movie. This caught my attention which made me watch the rest of the film in a very different way with a new outlook. We start off by watching the montage of the film and then all of a sudden we start to see still images appear. Along with that we hear the tempo change from upbeat to dark and scary. With these still images it appeared to me as if time had stopped for a brief moment. As this happens we start to see the women editing the film within the film. It was odd to see and it felt like I was watching two different films. As we watch her edit the film and pasting certain scenes together it occurred to me that she could have done these scenes differently. She could have put a few beginning scenes at the end and visa versa, but she chose to do it this way which really intrigued me. why would she choose to do it this way? I feel as though she had used her own personal outlook on life to help her edit the film. I personally felt like she was a god and she was editing parts of peoples day to day life the way she saw fit. This scene did freak me out a bit, but made me see a whole different movie from there on. This style of film making can be very overwhelming especially when it’s done like this, but Dziga, his brother and his wife did an incredible job. I know this film is hard to relate to and your not suppose to relate to it, but to make it your own. The viewer is the narrator and the man with the camera is just helping you see the world. I often felt my life is a movie and I choose how to edit it and watch it through my eyes. Anyways back to the film, The fact that they were able to shoot Vertov while Vertov was also shooting the movie that we would see later helped me understand how they got those shots. For example the train scene in the beginning where he is standing it front of it and then was able to get shots all around the train I thought how was that possible? then a few moments later we see how it’s done and that really caught my attention throughout the film. All in all, I recommend this film to everyone because it really opens your eyes to things that you might not have noticed before in films today.

  • Mark Badel

    When I first heard that we were going to watch Man with the Movie Camera, I thought that it was going to be an entirely new experience. It was not until right before the movie started, that I remembered I had seen it before in a video editing class I had taken at DePaul. When I first saw the movie, I was left confused and a little annoyed that ‘I didn’t get it’. However, after watching it the second time and the discussions that was made in class, I felt as if I understood a lot more than I previously had. I realize the key in understanding montage films is not the individual shots on their own, but the editing and merging of two or more shots. What I saw from watching the film the second time was how urban life is the convergence of experiences. It is a clockwork with each moving piece having its own purpose. What this film did really well was portraying that feeling of slight overwhelmingness of urban life to the viewer. The editing and timing of each cut being so fast paced even further exemplified that feeling of being overwhelmed. The film really reminded me of the first time I had gone to the city after living in the quiet suburbs all my life. You see shots of people waking up and going to work. It almost felt as if these people were living their life on a loop, and that they were on constant autopilot. With that being said I do not think this is inherently a bad thing at all. Whenever we think of technology taking over our lives and being at the very center of the things we do, it’s easy to say its bad. I think that idea is wrong and that the film was not trying to portray it as bad. I have a sort of digital triumphalist view when it comes to technology. I think that as technology progresses, and becomes more immersed into our lives, that we would live happier. I feel as if the film is trying to show the same thing. When we see the shots of people working, repeating the same tasks over and over they don’t look sad at all. In fact, they even show shots of them smiling. Then after work, they all go and have fun watching sports or swimming at the beach. My ideas for this film feel like they are all over the place, but then again so is this film. Although it may feel chaotic at times, Man with the Movie Camera is a cinematic masterpiece.

  • Arianno Russell

    I have to say the film man with a movie camera was one of the most outrageous films I have seen. Starting out I thought the movie was extremely weird and random and that impression has not changed after completing the movie. The movie was basically about a camera man filming another cameraman who was the star performing crazy stunts to film basically everyday life. I can honestly say it is the type of movie I would never find myself voluntarily watching, so on that aspect it was a positive experience to see something different. Even though the movie was different, it still had many interesting things in the film such as I believe deeper meanings hidden in some of the compilations. The film captured everyday life in Russia and made regular activities look exciting mostly due to excellent editing even though they did not have the technology they have today. I wouldn’t say I completely understand the film, but I believe that’s the point of it for you the viewer to come up with your own reasoning behind it.

  • Alex Kolarz

    A man with a Movie Camera can be looked as a silent film that defines a film montage. This film has so many great editing by his wife because she put so many time and effort into picking on which film to make it perfect. The music in the background that Dennis wanted in the future that came out in the 90s that was put on after for this film was excellent by eight gave that is a mystery or some creepiness in my eyes I thought the whole film with the music was perfectly arranged on each scene. The film also showed how it was five years in the making, but it felt like it was maybe a couple of days the scenes were so correctly made. How at the start it was in the morning where there were no people in the middle of the day where there were friendly people and then at the end of the day where there was a ton of people everywhere. He used the camera lens with the cinema eye at the start and the end of the film. Denis showed us all the angles that are so different than other silent films. The people in the film look so different than I thought they acted back in those days. The best parts were the still photos that showed people and objects frozen in time, showing us all the details. It was crazy how Denis and his brother went to the best to shoot the film. Like how Mickhail got shots in the car, bike, and dam scenes looked, so dangers just to get some scenes. Elizaveta is removing and gluing the scenes together to get the perfect scenes in the film. Denis showed us a montage could be anything. Can’t believe this film is still so popular.

  • Odi Abraham

    Man with a Movie Camera was incredibly unique compared to the other films shown in class. Something that makes it very unique is that there isn’t necessarily one story line to follow all throughout. We are shown just a montage of life in urban Russia and we create our own perception as the viewer of what every shot means to you. Another aspect that makes it unique that was quoted in the article is that the film is “an experiment in the language of pure cinema” which is shown as Dziga Vertov’s brother and wife are shown in the film working on the film itself showing how “pure cinema” works and gives you an understanding of how shots are taken and how the editing is pieced together which doesn’t come to mind in other films viewed in class. The editing allowed a smooth transition between shots taken and had the “1+1=3” aspect all throughout the film leaving a big part of the story telling perception to the editor to be in charge of. Overall, I enjoyed it because of its simplistic idea of the time to just film life happening and presenting to people. If a modern version was made of that today in a big city like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles; I would be interested in seeing it even without a straight-forward storyline.

  • Pathik Patel

    After watching “Man With A Movie Camera,” I was really impressed on how the rapid shots came together and produce these masterpiece. I noticed how the movie doesn’t show any suburbs area, it was all in the city. It is a good way to portray a life in a city, something is happening every second of the day. Another thing I also noticed was set of shots together. When the shots of people at the barber shop and salon, and other pics were of hard working people. I took away this, that the rich people would hire someone to do their haircuts, or go to a salon for a facial, where on the other hand the hard working people were shown the way they were. Their clothes ripped and with holes. I got to this meaning by Dziga’s formula of “1+1=3” two shots conveying their own meaning and also giving a hint on the next scene. I really enjoyed the parts of movie which had been shot once, but also to be used elsewhere. For example, Dziga’s wife is the editor for this movie and she has been seen working on this film while getting by the man with a movie camera.

  • Grace Kalkowski

    After watching the film Man with the Movie Camera, I have a greater appreciation for montage films and how two shots can become three meanings. I think it is very interesting how people can interpret the film differently. This would be a great film to watch and pause throughout in order to reflect on the fast paced shots because you might be able to find another hidden meaning that gets lost throughout the film. In addition, I really liked the scene where it turns to still shots and then you see the lady cutting and organizing all of the film reels. That gave me a better insight in how films were made and how making this film took a lot of time and hard work. It wasn’t so easy like it is today, filming shots and then putting them in a movie editor to edit the movie.

  • Kelsey Siegel

    This film was by far, one of the most interesting films I had ever seen. At first, I didn’t understand what Professor Smith was talking about when he said that there is nothing like it. Being one of the first montage films, it still captured the essence of everyday life in Russia. One point that I found interesting in the essay is when Professor Smith was discussing how even though the film has no set plot or context, there still seems to be two main characters, the Russian people and camera man Mikhail Kaufman. Due to his daring stunts and drive to get jsut the right shot, it seems as though there is a flow to the movie. I think that this was a very smart move on Kaufman’s part because it allows for the viewer to interprets the “story” in what every way they seem fit. Even though it is full of chaos, the film still seem very smooth and calculated.

  • Stephanie Rubeo

    Man with a Movie Camera was unlike any other movie I’ve seen. There is an unusual silence to this silent film. The lack of screen cards, that actually describes a narrative, ceases to exist. Because of this, the viewer has to use their intuition while watching the film, in order to pick up on their own interpretation of the story line of this film. What’s really interesting about this film is the editing. This film was an entire display of montage editing, showing picture after picture of people, Russian scenery, and cameras, which leads you to experience a very different way of watching films. I thought that Dziga Vertov and his wife and brother, did an incredible job of leading your thoughts to pick up on the 1+1=3 style of editing as well. He was able to take different shots and flash them back and forth in a style that made you notice the link between each individual shot meaning, such as towards the beginning of the film, when the lady is waking up and you see her blinking then it flashes to the curtains opening and closing and then to the aperture in the camera lens letting in more and less light. The movie was simplistic with a complex meaning. I was really able to expand my interests in this film.

  • Emily

    The film Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, is about the urban life of individuals in the Soviet Union. More specifically, the film doesn’t have a plot, characters or screen directions. Instead, the film consists of a barrage of images spliced together.

    The film is most famous for its cinematic technique such as jump cuts and splits screen which in turn help make the film a a montage. According to Sergei Eisenstein a montage is an easy scene in which the meaning arises from the collision of independent shots. The director Vertov uses the theme of montage to convey the relationship between consumption and people which in turn helps define the meaning of cinema which is essentially the mass consumption of images.

    Vertov uses the dissolve technique to show a change in the passage of time, which in turn reflects the mass consumption of images. For example, the dissolve technique is employed in the last scene of the film where there is an image of an empty beach scene and then a group of individuals doing aerobics on the beach. After the film dissolves to a man unfolding a rug on the ground and placing rocks and singing bowl. Then, the film dissolves to an image of two individuals doing front stoke in a lake.

    Vertov also employs the technique of slow motion to show the rapid change in action of a single which in turn reflects the mass consumption of images. For example, there is a scene in the film where a women pirouettes across the screen and throws a discuss. The slow motion technique is used show the evolving progression of action. More specifically, it gives a realistic view of the hurling action and gives viewers a close up view of the fast paced action.

    Lastly, Vertov uses the double exposure technique in the later half of the film to show two images overlapping each other which in turn show the rapid ingestion of consumption. For example, in the film, Vertov shows an image of a cameraman and then places that image inside of a pint of beer. This scene demonstrates the nature of film itself in that there its purpose is to show the relationship between people and consumption.

  • Soffiah Decena

    Watching A Man With A Movie Camera, felt like watching a world so familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time. Familiar in the sense that the life of a bustling city is exactly as it is shot. Life and death, marriages and divorces, the beauties and unsightly, the poor and the rich. It’s not so glamorous life is what makes the film real. However, with the touch Dziga Vertov along with his family, the usage of montage editing and the play of cinematography gates it to another reality. In a godlike manner, he deconstructs reality and reconstructs it into a montage of something rather unworldly and unique. This artistic creation makes way for a film filled with meaning as the viewer is bombarded with hundreds of short clips.

    In your article, you mention how the film resonates as a human portrait. Beautifully so, it also resonates to me as a massive piece of machinery. Seeing all these people, you see them functioning as one. Sleeping soundly together at night, and working their designated jobs in the morning. Everything has a place and time, and just like a machine, it functions with everything aiding each other like gears. As poetic as it sounds, our lives rely on the dependence of other lives in a city.

    Another theme that personally resonated with me is Vertov’s comparison of a camera lens to a “Cinema Eye.” This “Cinema Eye” that Vertov repeats, acts as the role of god. Being placed in multiple perspectives within the city, it watches the routine life of the city. In many parts of the film, it slows down, fast forwards, and even rewinds, showing the manipulation of time. By manipulating time through his editing, it proves the ultimate manipulation of reality. In a particular scene, we see blinds opening repeatedly. Seeing this, we are shown an everyday routine and can understand that a grand amount of time has passed. The simple use of editing blinds opening consecutively together to create a passage of time is remarkably innovative.

  • Jake Glass

    “Man with a Movie Camera”, by Dziga Vertov

  • Jake Glass

    “Man with a Movie Camera”, by Dziga Vertov was like watching a car race. With its soviet montage editing, the scenes changed quickly. This made me feel like I was watching the Indy 500. Through Vertov’s collage style of editing, the story is almost timeless because it feels like the fast pace of life today. This film’s style which dates back to the late ’20s reflects the juxtaposition editing technique that seems to compress time. It felt as though Vertov was telling us a great deal about Soviet life at a rapid pace and this is one of the key elements in montage editing.

    This movie doesn’t give you an entire scene, there isn’t much plot and virtually no conversation so you must follow the plot from the film segments. It felt somewhat surreal in both its pace and visual feel. This movie must have been very difficult to film because there are scenes where the cinematographer has to stand up in a moving car and in another scene has to climb a steep ladder with heavy material on his back.

    As you wrote in your response essay the film was about the rich, poor, work, play, marriage, divorce, life and death. Your essay pointed out that the project was a family affair. The reason it was a family affair because the director hired his brother to be the cinematographer and his wife to be the film editor. In one of the scenes of the film, we see his wife gluing the shots together on a piece of paper. The director’s brother is the one taking all the shots throughout the film.

  • Diana Melnyk

    ‘The Man with the Movie Camera’ by Dziga Vertov was unlike any movie I’ve ever seen. Something that I found very fascinating was the different interpretations everyone had after viewing the film which proves that the film essentially never had a clear plot or narrative, it was more of a “human portrait” like was mentioned in the article. Everyone has different perspectives and routines in their lives. However, what we do have in common is the passage of time. Therefore, Vertov used the montage editing to compress time, however, in between those images and rapid pace scenes the viewer has the ability to create their own idea or meaning in their minds. This collage style of editing is very unique and also explains the idea of 1+1=3. To be quite honest, I didn’t entirely understand the film in the very beginning, I began to look over the notes we took in class while watching the film and trying to link the two to really try to understand what the meaning behind it was. After having the discussion with the class, it really helped me grasp the idea. It is very clear that the making of this film took a tremendous amount of time and effort. The film was definitely an eye-opener to the fact that even with a lack of technology and voice, you can still create an amazing piece that has the ability to mold different minds from around the world, giving the viewer an idea of what it was like and everything an average human being would encounter throughout their average lives to pinpoint reality. I enjoyed every transition and every shot that showed the cameraman literally moving from one scene to another while trying to create the perfect shot for the film on the actual screen was incredible, it was like watching a ‘behind the scenes’ but actually interacting with the idea of the film. It was definitely a film I would have never thought I would watch but, I am extremely glad I did and will be recommending it further on.

  • Jeffrey Bulish

    Dziga Vertovs film “Man with a Movie Camera” presents a journey. A journey of a cameraman traversing the interweaving streets, ladders, and architecture of multiple Russian urban settings. He presents multiple facets of social lifestyles from the homeless child to the dirty coal miner to the housewife getting her hair done to the policemen directing traffic meanwhile showing varieties of different infrastructures like dams, storefronts, and institution buildings. In the beginning this is what I saw but as the film carried on I began to see a different journey all together. I saw not just a journey through a city but the journey of filmmaking like when Elizaveta Svilova carefully snipped and pasted the film or when it was being shown to the audience on screen which is actually quite unique to the filmmaking game as most films don’t include the people usually behind the camera in front of the camera. It also could make a thick list of filmmaking techniques like crossfading screen shots, slow motion edits and stop motion animation. All these techniques that made the film were interweaved within the content the film was showing. Something not quite like it at the time. Of course having all this content in a steady flowing linear plotline would be not only boring but implausible so they used the format of a montage which was a smart move as it keeps the audience enthralled in its fast motion and complex sequences meanwhile maintaining fluid narrative continuity.

    The film is a monument in film history for its exposure of the soviet montage era to western culture and its unique format which allows the audience to interpret the film for themselves.

  • Christopher Dumitru

    I feel like the film, “Man with a Movie Camera,” was created to show, as mentioned previously, anything can be filmed. Anything can be recorded, so long as there is a camera there to record it. Dziga Vertov shot anything and everything throughout this film. If the human eye can see it, then it can be seen through the eye of a lens as well. I’m not sure if this was said by Dziga Vertov himself, but it was something I pulled from class. It went like, “We’re not just recording reality, we’re creating reality.” I feel like this was Vertov’s initial purpose for the film. Create a reality from an already existing reality through editing.

    This film was meant to show the timelessness of a busy city. It was meant to show just how much is going on in the world around you. Some people are up bright and early with jobs and school to attend to, while others, as shown in the beginning of the film, wake up nonchalant on a public bench. This film was meant to show all walks of life, while also showing aspects of polar opposites. Women working in factories and other women getting pampered in a spa. The birth of a newborn, and the death of an adult. Sends a message that everyone is an individual person and we all live differently.

    This film had a lot of scenes that were focused on labor. Shows how busy humans are. Some of the factory scenes reminded me of a beehive in how clustered together everyone was while still maintaining focus and continuing to work. There seemed to be an underlying message of how much labor is required for everyday items that humans buy without a second thought of how it was produced. Some clear examples of this are the cigarette factory/worker arranging the cigarettes quickly in order to keep the product moving, and the phone line company that was moving each phone line from one plug to the next.

    Eventually there was time to kick back and relax. It seemed like everyone that was shot working at their respective places of work all went to the beach simultaneously. I don’t think this was an accident. This was meant to show that humans need to unwind, grab a beer, or hang out. There were also scenes of audiences watching athletes, magic, etc. Humans love to be entertained, they love socializing, they love having a good time.

    This film was definitely a high risk high reward type of deal. Vertov didn’t know how timeless this film would turn out to be or if people were going to like it for that matter. It turned out to become a world famous film because of its ingenuity. This film shows the risk Vertov and his brother both took in trying to capture certain shots, risking their health in order to capture the right shot.

  • Alvin Varghese

    Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov shows how people living in the Soviet Era during the late1920s lived daily. This film did not have a specific storyline or basic direction, but a constant flow of different shots showing how people go on throughout their lives. Shot after shot, every scene showed uniqueness by not displaying repetition, but constant jump cuts providing a different image.

    Watching this genre very much confused me especially when I first heard we were going to watch a montage film that arose questions in my head. I wondered how will Vertov utilizes this idea of montage filming. Further analyzing the movie it was edited a certain way showing us how one shot affects the others by being placed close by displaying a contrasting outcome. Basically, multiple shots and editing complement each other throughout this film.

    The “city symphony” idea of now having main characters is genius, especially in a montage film. The film shows how everyday people interact in three different cities, so this genre is the best fitting for this specific reason. A montage of how people operate daily by showing a shot after shot was fast paced. It was hard to miss a single moment to make sense of what was going on. Personally, this film was kinda boring, but if I missed a moment I would be confused because everything is 1+1=3.

    Speaking about the “city symphony” ideology we see how life unfolds for everyone as you stated in the review. We witness contrast such as divorce and marriage or work and play, but the main point is connecting the two images as one. Vertov wants us to use the montages so we can picture what life was like back their day. I can see how this film can be different from Vertov’s counterparts because of what he displays differently.

    There was a stop motion scene with the camera acting as if it were a human with legs. I guess it could be saying we are the camera and we take record our lives. The basic interpretation is life is like a movie,but our eyes recoed everything.

    Personally, this film brought a lot of confusion to me even as the film progressed. It wasn’t till after the film and reading the review as well as analyzing the film where I kinda understood the film. The film needs to be closely investigated in order to understand the mvies concept. Montage films are rapid images, but it’s about putting each together to make sense of a story.

    • Riley Mullens

      Man With a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov was by far different from the genres of movies that I watch. The film is a very fast paced movie with many short clips of how life used to be in the 1920’s Soviet Union era. There are many shots from all different places around Russia. It shows clips of people from very wealthy backgrounds to people living on the streets. It also displayed various jobs that the men and women of Russia had worked back then. In one shot it showed a man dying and then the next shot there is a young woman in the hospital giving birth. The fast montage of many different clips confused me very much at first. At the end of the movie I realized that the cameraman was making a story with all those different images and short clips.

  • Jazlyn Castaneda

    Man with a movie camera showed exactly how Dziga Vertov was and that was how he was decribed in this article “Vertov was obsessed with the mechanics of filmmaking, especially cinematography and editing” in this film we saw notthing but pictures and pictures and more pictures. It didnt have to make sense to see how he expresses the art work that was done in this movie. Even though this movie was a form of art it did bring a lot of confusion. As you mentioned in this article you’ve showed this film multiple times in class and you notice students restless and bored and you’re not wrong. It isn’t because the film is boring but because the images are great but because there is no plot.

  • niyalish

    The director of the film Dziga vertov wanted to show the viewers what different kinds of editing can be used in film making and how it is not important for a movie to have a story line. By putting different shots in the movies and making them into one big collage was a really brave idea which made this film a noble piece; as in the early 19’s there was not much of these montages in a film. Dziga vertov aslo showed us clips/ shots of the cinematographer and how he goes lengths to shoot a film for the viewers and for other people. he also showed us his wife who was editing this film which was really great as we see her editing the same film which we were seeing. The one big thing about this movie is that Dziga vertov showed us some shots where the camera was represented as a human eye and that a human eye is the same as a camera which records things for you.

  • Afsheen Syeda

    The Man With the Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov was one of the most unique films I’ve ever seen. As you pointed out, it shows the metropolis aspects of Russia through a lens which captures opposites such as marriage and divorce to convey all the different colors of the city. There’s always a lot going on and it takes the viewer from the beginning of the day activities throughout to the evening such as sports, friends drinking, and many other everyday activities of ordinary people. This montage is put together as one idea through multiple shots which guide the viewers through the lens of the camera.

  • Belle Maintsogt

    In the film “Man with the Movie Camera”, Dziga Vertov did an amazing job on emphasizing the chaos in everyday life through the use of montage scenes. Montage scenes bring a new meaning from the collision of individual shots and Vertov did exactly that. From the individual shots of people getting married to people getting divorced, Vertov is trying to show the audience that people are experiencing different things throughout the same city. From the shots of birth and death, Vertov is trying to convey the idea that life goes on no matter what. Also, the rhythm, pace, and music were all perfectly tied to the film. In the beginning, the shots of the train starting to speed up and the shots of the woman getting up from her bed tied together illustrated the fast pace of their daily lives and really set the pace for the rest of the film.

  • Nick

    The part that really stuck out to me about the “Man with the Movie Camera” was the contrasting sense of order and machinery compared with disorder of human nature. The montage scenes such as when all the buses, police and other vehicles starting up or the work inside the factory gave off an immense feeling of awe for how synchronized it was. Comparatively the scenes such as the homeless man on the streets, the coal mines, the poor working women or even all the couple getting divorced contrasted with the other images before and after really drive home the diverse nature of city life. In a way the way the different scenes in the film woven together speak to me of a message of how no two people’s lives are the same that despite every person being part of the greater whole of a city no two people’s stories are the same. The extreme nature of the shots in this film gave me an awe inspired sense of how there is always a new viewpoint, a new idea, a whole new miniature world to explore.

  • Ross

    The Man With The Movie Camera is, to me, a perfect example of a city symphony. The nature of montage filmmaking, where the meaning of the film, or of any specific series of shots, arises from editing, and the extremely fast pace of the film, allows Dziga Vertov to convey both a plethora of messages as well as the speed of life and industrious atmosphere the city itself.

    For example, the series of shots including marriage, divorce, birth, and death, interspersed with shots of streetcars/trolleys moving past each other is obviously meant to connect the cyclical aspect of human life to the cyclical aspect of city of life, while the speed at which it is shown accentuates the accelerated pace of life in the city, compared to life outside it. Another sequence I particularly enjoyed was the second series of shots within the theatre, connected with the shots of ballet, then followed by shots of women at switchboards, typewriters, industrial machinery, and again, of streetcars throughout the city. Here, I think Dziga was trying to tell us by way of montage filmmaking, that the dancers and the city are both like each other in different ways. He is saying that, like the city and it’s industry, the dancers must be practiced and in shape, every day, in order to perform the best they can. He is also saying, that the city, like the dancers, with it’s industry and workers, is also a performance, and that the synchronization, cooperation, and movement of the city is just as beautiful as the ballet dancers.

  • Grant Lewis

    Personally, I have never seen a movie anything like The Man With The Movie Camera. I normally don’t stop and think about how the editing of a movie relates to the meaning of a film. In this movie, all the meaning was in the editing. I agree with you that Dziga almost seemed to be just showing us all the cool camera tricks he could do. It really stuck out to me that he was doing these crazy stunts, like going under a train for a shot. It showed in a sense how passionate he was and how dedicated he was to film making. As you said, you noticed some students getting bored. I think at times it was hard to keep up with the movie because so much was happening, personally, I am used to movies with plots and a storyline so it is easier to keep up and follow along. In this movie, it wasn’t that I was necessarily lost, but more so trying to take in every image that I saw and process it. I do like how the fast pace of the movie matched the fast pace of life and how he used different shots to kind of show us how many things in the world are going on at any given time. He captured what a full day in the city would be like and showed opposites, like one family giving birth and someone else dying. These weren’t the same people but it showed two sides to life in the same general area. This montage of the shots and how they were put together is what really gave this film its meaning.

  • Emira Divovic

    After watching “Man With A Movie Camera” the first time, I started to think of life as work because of the various activities people do during the day. At the beginning of this movie, it seems like the city is asleep and waking up because not very much movement is done in the very beginning. Only a few people are doing some work. The director of this film made this movie with various types of editing to show not only more ways that movies can be made but also to be creative. I like how at the beginning of the movie in a scene the camera was at a high angle shot because it was easier to see how people were traveling in the city. In the first half of the movie, it seems like the director was trying to show more of the types of jobs people do during the day. In the second half of the movie was when fun activities and sports were shown that people do. It seems like the overall idea of the movie was to show what are all of the things to do during the day and to show the ways a movie can be made. Various kinds of editing were used throughout the entire movie to create a meaning for life functions. Some examples of when the author used editing in the movie were when 2 transportation scenes were shown in one scene and when there were multiple action scenes in one scene. Filming the movie in various ways made the movie more interesting and less boring. The fact that this film doesn’t have a plot makes it more unique, compelling, and special because that makes the movie have more meaning.

  • Nate Frazier

    Dziga Vertov’s ‘Man with the Movie Camera’ can be seen as an insane experience of moving images being thrown at the viewer, but that is just the surface to this film. I saw it as a real challenge in seeing how many things I was able to pay attention to during the film, but that’s the thing about ‘Man with the Movie Camera’, maybe we only see what we want to see. I believe the film has this effect on the audience because we do not necessarily know what we are looking at or looking for. The only context we get in the film is that a man is making a movie. I have personally never seen a movie this open to interpretation before. At times the film just feels like a catalog of different shots that can be created with a camera and at other times it seems to be telling a story or stories. The film moves in a million different directions, but the editing combined with the soundtrack, creates a feeling of chronological order in a way. I do not believe Vertov intended to have a specific meaning behind the film. I think instead, he wanted the viewer to create the meaning for themselves.

  • Emily Mete

    In the film MWTMC it had a lot of interesting aspects that made you think a little bit. The thing I liked the most is that I noticed there is no plot, so you kind of have to interpret what you think it means. I think Dziga Vertov was trying to not only show us how the camera works but maybe film the stuff people don’t always like to see. For instance he shows people doing super random things that you question why is he even filming that, it almost seems as though he is filming the secret life, that people hide. Also you mentioned the almost obsession of the camera/ filming aspect Dziga Vertov had so I feel like Dziga Vertov is definitely trying to demonstrate every type of way a camera can be used. When you said students get bored and restless, I feel like its not so much bored but we try to look for the plot and when you can’t exactly find one then you start to get confused and frustrated, because your trying to find something that is not there. If they used montage scenes with more of a plot, I feel like the aspect of the movie would be a lot more interesting and a unique way to film.

  • Kristi Grunditz

    Man with a Movie Camera is a film that was crazy but still made sense. I say it was crazy because of how fast the shots were, and a few little things like the camera walking by itself in stop motion. But I say it made sense because it was able to mean something to every person who watched it.

    I liked what the teacher said about city symphony films, that “the people who live in each particular city form a kind of collective hero for the movie.” I think this movie accomplished getting this message across to the viewer. I observed people through the eyes of the camera, and the cameraman. The teacher’s reference to a quote by Dziga Vertov was interesting because it was from a book written by the director but I think it also sums up a lot of Man with a Movie Camera. I think the film is about the eye of the camera being like the eye of God.

    While watching, I noticed some things being repeated. The theme of water, everything moving in different directions, and opposite images being shown one after the other are some of them. I think these themes were repeated in the movie to show how different things can be repeated in life. The movie is about everyday life to me but also about the fact that anyone with a camera can observe, almost like watching over everything.

  • George Grunditz

    I found The Man with the Movie Camera to be an incredibly interesting film, despite no plot, no dialogue, and no subtitles. What stood out to me is that Vertov gave the viewer so many unique experiences in Soviet society, yet still managed to connect them all. Like you mentioned in your post, he showed us the differences and similarities in lifestyles by cutting between the rich and poor, showing marriage and divorce, and even life and death. The movie takes you through an entire life cycle in just over an hour, which is why I thought it remarkable and entertaining for me to watch. How many movies do you see that can show you the life of an athlete, coal worker, fireman, plus many more, and connect them all together? He showed that every person is unique, yet they all share similar highs and lows in their life, which connects them all into one great society.

    In my eyes, Vertov made a movie about the life of Soviet Society. In a sense, the society itself was a person that woke up in the morning, and went to bed at night. It was the thousands of people who woke up every morning that kept this society alive and breathing. His passion for film making also motivated him to use a plethora of different filming techniques. We saw all sorts of things that were unheard of at the time, like filming in reverse, filming on a car, underneath a railroad track, and multiple more. Despite all the techniques, there was very little confusion in the movie, which speaks to the precise and talented editing that went into it. The Soviet montage style thought the most important part of a movie was the editing, and it sure did show in this masterpiece.

  • Jovan Slusher

    After watching The Man with the Movie Camera a few more times, I have come to appreciate the editing style of “1+1=3” and well as my appreciation for modern filmmakers that use a bit of montage to tell a story. Watching the film was in many ways similar to reading a novel. Each shot being letters, each sequence of shots being sentences. Before I knew it I was piecing together meaning to all that I was viewing. The beautiful thing about this type of filmmaking and editing is how intentional or unintentional you can be with your message. Of course through analyzation we can come to an agreement of what the filmmakers intentions were but each viewer is ultimately still slave to their own perspective. This leaves ample room for the film to be consumed, thought about and interpreted in a variety of ways.

  • Ann V

    The Kaufmann Brothers and of course Vertogs wife were way ahead of their time! It blows my mind that they shot this movie in 1929, which makes it even more genius of a piece. Very rarely can you find movies in theaters that represent the freshness and experimentality of Man with a Movie Camera. Unlike Our Hospitality or Cabinet of Dr.Caligari it did not follow a complete plot with characters, yet it was a whole other thing in it of itself.

    This movie, documentary, montage was an ode to the love of filmmaking. The movie was meta on different levels, where the viewer literally watched a movie that was filming the movie that was being viewed. Being a “City Symphony Film”, it also juxtaposed shots of the daily lives of Russians who lived in the city. Even though everyone was in a rush or doing different things, the commonality of all human life was also expressed.

    The Vertog brothers brilliantly juxtaposed shots to show these metaphors, whether it was a couple getting married with the next scene of a couple getting divorced. The scene of the funeral down the street, juxtaposed with a woman giving birth. Or cranking the camera, and the store door opening. Or even Elizaveta editing the shot contrasted with a lady sewing. There were much more juxtapositions and metaphors throughout the film but it would take a 100 watches to really see it all! The soundtrack matched spot on with the pace and action of the film heightening its appeal as well.

    The city itself was like its own individual, and Vertogs famous shot of the eye in the camera lens shuttering was akin to a God like symbolism that the camera was watching all of Russia. Kind of like the eyes of Dr. T.J Eckleburg from the Great Gatsby. I seemed to sort of interpret that that’s how the Kaufmann brothers viewed life, their whole life was dedicated to the art of filmmaking and this movie was sort of their brainchild on the technicality of filmmaking. They saw the world through the lens of a camera.This film was a creative masterpiece and their gift to the world that filmmaking is also work and they were willing to do whatever it takes, whether it was filming in a coal mine or under a train track to prove this point.

  • Isaac Choo

    I think this film was an experiment for film industries. There were no main characters that narrate the story and leads audience to the different world; however, they had ordinary people just like us. Like the essay have mentioned, the main character of this film would be every citizens who were in Dziga Vertov’s shots. The film showed many individual people living in this timeline such as people who are getting married, getting divorced, giving birth, working in factory, etc. I believe there are no film that portrayed this time line the best since it is the real life of those ordinary people.

  • Michael Cruz

    I think this review for MWtMC was spot on both of what we discussed in class as well as my own personal opinion of it. What really stuck out to me in the film that I also enjoyed was the juxtaposition of themes that you’ve written about. It was interesting to see for example, a couple getting married in a courthouse, then cue to the next shot of another couple getting divorced all while being shot in the same composition. The movie to me does a very nice job of exploring juxtaposition and it’s one of my favorite things to catch while viewing movies in general.

  • Noah Bucksbaum

    Man with a movie camera is an intense experiment in the art of cinematography, I personally believe that Dziga Vertov, Mikhail Kaufman and Yelizaveta Svilova set out to create a film that would solidify the art of making movies. When they began shooting and editing this film capturing art on film was in its infancy. Even more threaten within the government controlled Soviet Union, which only wanted films and art produced that would glorify unity under communism. The trio set out to create a movie that would bend the rules of narrative continuity and constantly remind the audience that this was a film created by people for people to enjoy & interpret. There is no way the three could know or understand that the 68 min film would create a standard that will never be topped. The overall film in my opionin is about humanity in its simplest and most complex moments. The scenes captured by Mikhail Kaufman and edited neurotically by Yelizaveta Svilova, show the smallest moments and how they affect the bigger picture. I personally love that together, they show how one person is a (tiny cell) within a human that is an (entire city) living and even breathing daily. Scenes cut together like a women opening her eyes then a quick cut to blinds opening on a window, Closed to open closed to open then finally as she fully awakes the windows blinds seem to explode open letting in the sunlight. This Show’s to me that if you’re reading between the lines 1+1 does in fact equal 3 through the implied. The whole movie is filled with quick shots and edits that exemplify this concept, even going so far as giving the camera a human quality at the end by having it dance for an apparently amused audience. Which personally i would freak out if I ever saw any object move without human aid, but this is a film and Dziga Vertov, Mikhail Kaufman & Yelizaveta Svilova are constantly reminding the audience of this fact. The most wall breaking moment within the film is when the film slows to stills and then cuts to Yelizaveta Svilova editing each frame together painfully, showing each step of the process from the raw reels to her cutting the strips to gluing them together to create a new strip. Most films created try to protect the idea that what you’re watching is real, this film constantly has shots of the film being filmed within the movie reminding the viewer that this was created. Man With A Movie Camera is proof that sometimes having less tools forces an artist to get more creative without taking away from the meaning of what is being produced. Dziga Vertov, Mikhail Kaufman and Yelizaveta Svilova must have had extreme patience when creating this film probably restarting with every new reel of completed film, this movie took 5 years to shoot and probably was edited and changed every step of the way. I personally understand why some students may stuggle with understanding the meaning, there is no narrative other then what is implied between the shots and the overall depiction of the film. The real message to me is that as human beings we are able to impact so much or so little within our lives dependent on how connected we allow ourselves to the overall collective. Dziga Vertov, Mikhail Kaufman and Yelizaveta Svilova set out to impact the art of film and Russia for decades and perhaps forever, I believe even with the technology we have now this piece of film could never be duplicated without losing meaning. Even if you disagree Man with a Movie Camera feels like a wild rollercoaster ride from beginning to end, with only 68 mins each turn and twist is worth watching so just enjoy the ride.

  • Maddie Davis

    Man with the movie camera was an interesting movie to watch. At first I didn’t really understand, but as I rewatched it I concluded that the movie itself was telling a story of everyday life and how people view their own everyday life. I also loved each of the shots can also have multiple meaning and how movie’s are interpreted with a real “camera eye”.MWTMC also shows the mere awe of how some shots are taken from. An example for me would be the moving car shots and also when the camera man was under or above something, this movie is absolutely breathtaking and visually stunning, a very unique style of filmmaking.

  • Alex Prestigiacomo

    Upon my viewing of “Man With A Movie Camera” its influence on art house films was immediately apparent. Everything from the film’s cinematography, editing, and even the “narrative” seen feels experimental in its execution. The narrative structure, or rather the lack of one, serves as a both a meaningful look into the cities of Russia as well as a exploration of how and what is essential for narrative within film. At the same time however, while Kaufman appears to simply catch average city life subliminal messages and themes are evident. I can’t help but view the communist propaganda as taking away from what should be a straightforward and simply fun film. Even lacking a true narrative the film’s clear politics lack any subtly, it is so evident in its communist message that it can’t help but take away from the overall film. It’s historical importance can not be understated, similar D. W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” and its racist imagery “Man With A Movie Camera” is held back by a lack of nuance.

  • jmartyniouk

    Man With The Movie Camera is one of the rare films where different people can interpret this movie in different ways. The way I interpret this film is that it’s about life and how life goes by so fast in a flash as shown by blink and you’ll miss it camera shots. One of first shots in the film is a dolly in to a window which then cuts to a sun reflecting on 2 lamp posts. Every morning the sun rises and a new day begins. Everyone in the town is asleep. There’s also a theme of the rich and the poor as we see one woman on a nice bed living in a beautiful home sleeping then we see a guy sleeping on a bench. These shots connect together as they show that while one person is living luxuriously the other person is homeless. These shots show why this film is more important today as this is sadly how the world is today. Some people are sleeping in a home while others are sleeping outside in the streets begging for money to survive. It’s a sad reality and I am glad this film is showing the hard truth of the world which is what makes it relevant to today’s world.
    This film has one visual motif and that’s eyes. Eyes are the windows to the soul which is why there’s a shot of 2 windows to represent 2 eyes. There’s also quick creepy close ups of eyes on statues. Life is seen through our eyes and everytime we blink we miss a moment of life which is why this film is shot rapidly to tell viewers not to blink or they will miss the next shot. Life is like our own personal movie and our memories are the shots of our movie. Life is unpredictable and like a movie we don’t know what will happen next. The train also symbolizes how life goes by in a blur and that we all have a final destination in life. You could either stay on the tracks and live a prosperous life or go off the rails and live life on the cold streets.
    There’s a shot of a lady dressing up in nice clothes next to a shot of a homeless shirtless man in dirty clothes. Shows how the world has an economic class system and it’s still the same way today. The wealthy are on a different level than the middle class and the poor. These shots correspond to another shot in this film. Each shot is a puzzle piece and the viewer has to mentally but the pieces together and that’s really cool. Notice the shot when the woman blinks once when wiping her face we cut to a window shade closing. When the woman blinks rapidly the window shades are closing and opening at the same speed as the blinking woman. This then cuts to a shot of the camera lenses closing and then opening. This shows how we are like a camera and our eyes are taking mental pictures of moments in our lives.
    In another shot we see one eye open through a camera lens and the next shot is the lady waking up from a bench. Everyday the first thing we do is wake up from sleep and open our eyes to start a new day. We are grateful to live another day and go through life. There’s one shot that really caught my eye and that shot is when many people are walking through town we see 2 versions of the same shot from 2 angles. This shows how people see life in different perspectives. You can see one situation one way but I could see it a different way. When the film freezes corresponds to when your life stops, when your eyes close and when you have no pulse. This is proven as the next shot is a lady cutting film shots.The scissors show how people cut their lives short by the choices we make as shown by a later shot of a guy being rushed to the hospital.
    The next shot is of one boy smiling and being happy and another boy in shock and fear. These shots show how in life people react in different ways by using different emotions. Then we see a shot of a couple registering to get married which connects to a shot of a couple filing for divorce. These shots show how you can find the love of your life or end up broken hearted. Life and love are both games and you either win and succeed or lose and fail at both. The film then cuts to a casket and a woman in mourning which connects to a shot of a lady giving birth to her baby. This symbolizes how life starts with birth and ends in death. Life doesn’t last forever and we all have different time limits in life. Notice how near the end we got a lot of shots of people playing sports and having fun. This is the filmmakers telling us to have fun and cherish every moment in life because life goes by at a rapid pace just like the film.
    The final shot is very important in this film. This shot is of an open eye fading away as the camera lenses closes and the film ends. This shows that we all eventually fade away from life just like the eyes and our eyes close for good when we pass on from life as shown by the closing of the camera lens. This film and the makers of this film tells us that we go through many situations in life, we work hard to get far in life every day. The filmmaker is saying that we should live behind a life legacy for the next generation. Life goes by fast and we shouldn’t waste a second of our life. We only have one life and we should live it to our best potential as shown by this film.

  • Zuriel Zepeda

    when I first hear the premise of the movie, I thought that it would be a bunch of random shots out of nowhere. But when I finally watched the MWTMC, boy I was wrong. The entire movie was telling a story about cities and their daily life. Like a giant awakening and does his/her business to take care of for the day. It also shows even 90 years ago, we can relate so much of the people during the USSR era. I talked to one of my classmate about MWTMC, to get a feel on watch he saw. He said that the movie was too weird and how every time he wants to write a note during the film. he missed like the segway to the next scene. later on, he got bored. I now understand why Mr. Smith sees his students bored out of there minds. But for me, I considered this movie as my favorite documentary of all time.

  • Galilea Bustos

    The MWTMC really was an experiment and depicts the lives of people in various scenarios using different camera and editing techniques that we are not used to. In the other movies we watched in class like, Our Hospitality, the movie shows a smooth continuity. This movie on the other hand was all over the place. Although it was very random it still flowed. The shots somehow related or connected to other shots. With movies like these you really have to have an open mind and just take it in. Not think too much about it and just look and observe at the different scenes and shots. Look at the different people, the different lives and stories they may have. When you go to a museum you look at the art and most of the time you don’t know what you’re looking at but you just take it in and perceive it your way. That’s how this movie felt. Like you went into a museum and you looked at multiple paintings. Of course the different shots were cool, but what truly made this movie stand out from the others was the editing. The editing brought it to life and gave us the story. If it wasn’t for the editing the movie wouldn’t be as great as it was.

  • Grace Naum

    When this movie was first described to me I was honestly a little nervous to watch it. I didn’t think a movie entirely made up of montage could go on for 69 minutes without getting frustrating to watch, but I was quickly proved wrong. The editing of this film was truly brilliant and was what kept my attention throughout. I think the point of this film was to just show the human experience, and what struck me was that it’s actually very similar whether it be 1920s Russia or 2019 Chicago. I also really loved how some scenes really didn’t mean much on their own but juxtaposed they took on a whole deeper meaning. This movie also really changed my own perception of what a documentary is. Before seeing this film I thought all documentaries followed a similar format and most were quite boring to be honest, but this opened my eyes to a completely different type of documentary and that was really interesting.

  • Anthony Robles

    I really enjoyed watching this piece because I find myself observing and absorbing everything that is in front of me. The film showed a lot of comparisons from people and even personification with the camera, the train, and the city. Everything corresponded in the movie and even though the film went by fast I believe it was a reminder for people to take things easy and slow down; take things step by step just how everything in this movie is shot, edited, and placed. I feel it is crucial to understand the shots going back and forth to the train coming in fast and the woman waking up. Right when the woman woke up she quickly got ready, and looked like she was in a rush, like the train was. The city is only a city with the people, and the city wakes up from the people like we wake up from our alarm clocks.

  • Max Theccanat

    When watching “Man with a Movie Camera” I was fascinated with the usage of the ‘1+1=3’ phenomenon that we learned in class previously. It shows how editing could alter the way that the audience perceived what is being shown. I believe that this movie was trying to figure out the boundaries of editing could do. It showed the world was not just black and white, there was some grey area with how one could perceive it. I also agree with what you said about this being ‘Meta” and “ahead of its time” but, I also believe that they were also trying to create a new form of art. One that focused more on the editing rather than have something for entertainment. Hence why this is called an experimental film. The last idea that I partially agree with is that students feel restless due to having to create their own narrative during the movie rather than having one made up. I believe that it could also be contributed with have too much information being put in front of them that it overwhelms them. When they try to process it, the next scene finishes due to the 2 second shots. Overall this is a fantastic movie to watch, giving the experience of a different form of documentary. However I believe that it should be one that is watched multiple times to see how much of the camera alters perception and life during this time.

  • George Chirayil

    I agree with several of the points you made! The rapid nature of the shots, and the disconnect of standard narratives pulls the audience out of his chair. Even if boredom strikes, there is no way in hell that your eyes can divert anywhere but the screen. The 1+1=3 idealogy stands prevelant throughout the entirety of the film. You must actively reflect and analyze the purpose of two shots being juxtaposed.
    I think the purpose of the film is easily Vertov’s message to the world that film-making is becoming part of the world, and there is nothing that it cannot capture.The meaning behind the film is so meticulously directed that one cannot deny how ahead of the era this film is. He conveys the human condition through a camera. The aristocrat and proletariat, marriage and divorce, and of course birth and death. He captures the the almost comletely organic nature of society. The uniformity, the automation and repition, and the consistency between days all hint towards his Utpoic idealogy of Russian life.
    There are literally thousands of different things to be analyzed. Each shot represents more than just what is being physically captured, but I digress from analyzing and wish to share something that is truly meaningful to me. Although this is personal, I’d like to voice my aprecciation of this film. Something that I find extreme annoyance in is the world’s obsession with sexualizing women. Directors and artists use the manipulation of the female body to attract all kinds of attention. Although I may be missing Vertov’s meaning behind these series of shots, I would like to believe in the meaning I derived from them. The sexual prevelancy is almost completely neutral. I was looking at naked women on the beach, and for the first time in such a long time I did feel the need to be sexually compelled. The shots are so organic and humanely placed that I could do nothing except look at all these people, as simply just human beings. With how consumed our society is with women and sex, I was completely taken aback with gratitude and appreciation that there once existed a time that were truly were all recognized as just human beings. Yes there is a time and place to entice and appeal to the oppsite gender, but in day to day life, Vertov perfectly captured that we are all humans part of a society, and we must all pull our weight in order to make ends meet.

  • Kevin Wiorek

    The “Man with a Movie Camera,” is a wonderful montage film. When we were told that the average shot length was 2 seconds long, I was concerned about whether or not I would be able to understand a specific meaning that was trying to be portrayed. However, while watching I soon realized that there isn’t a specific plot point or a specific meaning but rather it is left to the audience to choose how they interpret the film. This is achievable because of how the film was made without the help of a story and without the help or actors and sets. The only thing that is able to tell a tale is the shots themselves, which leaves the table open for interpretation. My analysis of the film made me believe that Dziga Vertov was trying to show how human life and city life are intertwined. Through the use of juxtaposing different shots together that have similar context, such as a woman cleaning her face and then the next shot of the streets being cleaned with a hose, it helps to show the similarities between the different shots. Another concept that stuck out to me was the portrayal of how chaotic life can be. To the numerous scenes of people and cars weaving in between each other, to the occasional shot of someone running out of the way because the they are afraid of being hit helps to show how hectic life can be. This paired along with rapid fire cuts helps to finalize a sense of chaos within the world. However, just because this was what I interpreted does not mean that someone else will have the same explanation for the film as I do. I even believe that if I watched the film numerous times, I would find a different meaning in the film each time, which is why this film will continue to be a masterpiece.

  • Tarang Rana

    Tarang Rana

    The concept of a 69 minute montage seemed a bit unusual at first. What can that possibly mean to a viewer? As the film goes on however, the viewer can then begin to give their own implication as to what the connection is between the images that were being shown. I agree with the idea that students might be a bit overwhelmed with having to create their own narrative for the film rather than have one already right there for them. This is what makes the film unique because since everyone is different, their thought process is different as well. Therefore, among a group of five people, there can be five different meanings derived from the exact same images shown to all five members in the group.

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