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5,954 Ratings

Man With a Movie Camera

Человек с киноаппаратом

Directed by Dziga Vertov
Soviet Union, 1929
Documentary, Avant-Garde
  • Silent
  • English


This landmark of the Soviet avant-garde and the silent era of film is a dazzling “City Symphony” in the manner of certain other non-fiction films of the time. Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece offers a “kino-eye” documentary portrait of a day in the life of a large Soviet city.

Our take

Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece remains a visually thrilling chronicle of modern life, and an ode to the power of film. A lucid mixture of documentary and avant-garde techniques, it’s a radical redefinition of cinema’s boundaries—essential viewing that is just as groundbreaking many years later.

Man With a Movie Camera Directed by Dziga Vertov
Vertov unveiled an almost pure cinema in somewhat-documentary form, an “image-oriented journalism” that could dissect “life caught unawares” and somehow create a symphony for the eye. An opening title card for the film is reminiscent of the spirit of The Communist Manifesto, with Vertov announcing his intention to create "a truly international, absolute language of cinema based on its total separation from the language of theater and literature.
May 03, 2016
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I finally recognized that this monumental documentary is almost designed for the bewildered spectator—it’s a completely idiomatic explication of cinema theory, as readily understood by an illiterate kolkhoz dweller as a Westernized urban sophisticate… THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA patiently, painstakingly demonstrates cinema from bottom to top—analogizing the camera lens with the eye, comparing an editing bench to a sewing machine…
September 04, 2015
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It announces itself in the opening cards as “an experiment in the cinematic transmission of visual phenomena… without intertitles… without a script… without sets, actors, etc” – pure cinema, in other words, and Vertov isn’t just boasting. The film is a kaleidoscopic evocation of life in several cities, notably a sunlit Odessa, and to judge by the film life in the late-20s USSR seems to have been a fairly jolly affair, although it wouldn’t be once the next decade got under way.
August 02, 2015
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