Saturday, December 17, 2005

man with a movie camera

christmas gift ideas

about half the time i come up with some real duds. today i was trying to recall gifts that were actually hits. man with a movie camera is always a good one. this is the most beautiful and amazing film, made in the late twenties by Dziga Vertov. there is nothing i can say that will do it justice or come close to describing it. man with a movie camera really defies description. if you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so. it puts you in the center of 1920s Russia. you are there.

from facets:

Dziga Vertov's masterpiece is an application of "life as it is lived." It makes the cameraman the hero, and is one of the most dynamic experiments with montage; the film also uses trick photography, animation, slow motion and speeded-up shots. "A study in film truth on an almost philosophical level. It does deliberately what others try hard to avoid--destroys its own illusions, in the hope that reality will emerge from the process not as a creature of screen illusion but as a liberated spirit" (Films and Filming). Silent.

customer review from amazon:

Vertov's _Man with a Movie Camera_ is not only the hallmark of Russian Constructivist film but one of the greatest films ever made, no hyperbole intended. Vertov's main premise was to create a new city, an Utopian ideal, through montage and editing. The scenes in the film are taken from footage of the three Russian cities of Kiev, Moscow and Odessa.
Unlike many of the other reviewers, I would have to suggest watching the film with the sound off (at least once.) The music, although originally composed by Vertov, has been adapted more recently by the Alloy Orchestra, and can have the tendency to be a distraction. Indeed, Vertov stated that film should be a medium that stands alone, not muddled by the addition of psychology, romance, or music. He placed tremendous value on the camera's ability to distill truth from visual "garbage," with what he termed "Kino-Eye" or "Truth-Eye."


Kelly Parra said...

They sound great! And unique. It's so hard coming up with something different each year.

Jeff said...

Anne- Well, if you say I owe it to myself then I'll find a copy and watch it. :)

Tribe said...

Truly a film that was way ahead of its time, and one that is so deserving of a DVD with bells and whistles ala Criterion Collection. I think there are two DVDs out there, one released by Image Entertainment and the other released by Kino. The Kino version has a vivid accompanying soundtrack by the Michael Nyman Band (who likewise did beautiful soundtracks for all those Peter Greenaway films).

If you are interested in Vertov's work, there is another DVD released by Image Entertainment that has Kino-Eye and Three Songs for Lenin.

And if you are really into 1920s Soviet agit-prop, Kino has yet another DVD which has Dovzhenko's Earth and Pudovkin's The End of St. Petersburg. Dovzhenko's Arsenal is also available from Image Entertainment.

The transfers on virtually all of these are fairly poor unfortunately, with multiple scratches, dirt, croppings...but its a testament to the visual power of all of these films that they remain stirring and emotional notwithstanding the shitty condition of the surviving prints.

Robin Caroll said...

Great suggestions. I HATE shopping for gifts, ok, I simply HATE shopping, but this is something I can buy online! :)

anne frasier said...

tribe: thanks for the title suggestions! i appreciate it!
i was surprised to see that netflix actually carries man with a movie camera -- but none of the other titles. I imagine i can find some of them locally.

robin: i agree! and DVDs are so easy.

Tribe said...

DVD Empire and Deep Discount DVD are the places to shop online for DVDs...Amazon's prices are only a buck or two off of a brick and mortar retailer. But both the ones that I mention tend to carry just about everything, and if the ones I mentioned are still in print (I bought my copies of the above last I gotta think they are still in print)they will have them at a much lower price than Amazon will ever have.

anne frasier said...

thanks, tribe! I will definitely look into both places. i usually resort to ordering hard-to-find dvds from facet, and facet is even more expensive than amazon.