Voted the greatest documentary of all-time in Sight & Sound’s recent international poll of critics and directors, the landmark 1929 avante-garde “ciné-poem,” Man with a Movie Camera, remains an exhilarating, one-of-a-kind movie experience. Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s virtuosic, rule-breaking “City Symphony” – denounced by an offended Sergei Eistenstein as “cine-hooliganism” – offers a dazzling kino-eye portrait of a day in the life of a large Soviet city.
“Dziga Vertov’s 1929 masterpiece celebrates the infinite possibilities of film … to this day, it looks and feels like nothing else.” – Jonathan Romney, Guardian
Merging three different cities (Moscow, Kiev and Odessa) into one, and orchestrating his images of urban life and labor with what can accurately be described as a syncopation of ecstasy, Vertov produced a work that quickly became a central document of the international avante-garde. The film is also radically self-reflexive, never ceasing to remind viewers they are watching a film. Via elaborate montage, camera tricks, and other cinematic pyrotechnics, Man with a Movie Camera constantly calls attention to the process of its own making. In this thrillingly entertaining and provocative slice of silent cinema, Vertov’s ultimate concern is the relation between film and reality – and the revolutionary power of the former to transform the latter. This recently-restored version of Man with a Movie Camera presents Vertov’s masterpiece in its entirety for the first time since its original premiere in 1929, and features original recorded musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra. (Dir. by Dziga Vertov, 1929, Soviet Union, silent, 68 mins., Not Rated)