Day 357: ‘The Russian Cameraman’ 2018

Day 357
Friday 22 June 2018   10.49pm
‘The Russian Cameraman’    2018

Man with the Movie Camera  (1929)
A Dziga Vertov Film

Top 100 Films –
Man With a Movie Camera (1929) is #8 in the 2012 BFI Critics Poll
Man With a Movie Camera (1929) is equal #48 with Shoah (1986), One Flew Over the ewCuckoo’s Nest (1975), The Searchers (1956), Psycho (1960), Man With a Movie Camera (1929), L’eclisse (1962), Pickpocket (1959), Pather Panchali (1955), Rear Window (1954), Goodfellas (1990) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) in the 2012 BFI Directors Poll

I watched this film for the first time, three weeks before beginning my 52-week project. I hadn’t even decided to do the project when I saw Man with a Movie Camera. I was thinking at that stage of setting aside one week a month for the next five to seven years, dedicated to the3 films of one director: B ergman, Bresson, Fellini, Rossellini, Ozu, etc.

To be true to the plan of watching them all within one year I needed to see it again and I’m very glad to have done so, because it is an extraordinary film for a number of reasons. In my mind, it definitely deserves its place in the 100 Greatest, 100 Best or 100 Most Extraordinary films of All-Time. It is clever beyond description. The reason being that there are no intertitles, cards with words written on them, inserted every so often through the length of a silent film, and there is no story in the narrowest definition of what a story actually is.

It’s a documentary, filmed in Russia, with images edited together, into groups of objects or machinery which correlate intellectually with each other. It’s Vertov’s mind (and whatever the contribution of the assistant editor) that has made the connections between the images, and is one of the most personal pieces of art ever created. Nothing looks like it that I’ve seen, and the vast array of objects and machinery, which would easily number more than a thousand, are edited together in such an indivdual way, by one mind conceiving the concept, and allowing his mind to match them and combine them and find visual associations between them.

Some of the reasons that it is such an astonishing series of amazing images include the fact that it captures a period in time, I’m guessing 1927-1929, in a Russian (or maybe more than one) city.