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The Man with a Movie Camera

(Chelovek s kinoapparatom)
USSR 1929. Dir: Dziga Vertov. 68 min. Blu-ray Disc

Dziga Vertov’s renowned ciné-poem, a landmark of documentary and avant-garde practice, remains an exhilarating experience. A “City Symphony” in the manner of certain other non-fiction films of the silent era, it offers a dazzling “kino-eye” portrait of a day in the life of a large Soviet city. It is also radically self-reflexive, never ceasing to remind us that its actualities are filmed actualities. With elaborate montage, camera tricks, and other cinematic pyrotechnics, The Man with a Movie Camera constantly calls attention to the process of its own making. Vertov’s ultimate concern is the relation between film and reality — and the revolutionary power of the former to transform the latter. In recent polls conducted by Sight & Sound magazine, Vertov’s masterpiece was voted one of the ten best films of all time and the greatest documentary ever made!