Man with a Movie Camera
FA / FILM 1900 Anatomy of Feature Film
Course Instructor: Firoza Elavia, Ph.D.
Paola Jesamine Cortez
Student no: 213159934
October 22 2013
Andre Bazin, a film critic, once said, “Photography does not create eternity, as art does; it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption.”1 Like photography, film captures different moments in time and in many cases, it captures, or attempts to capture, real life. Vertov’s film, Man with a Movie Camera (1929), is widely considered to present a recording of ‘life-facts’ or the truth of daily life in the Soviet Union. It is considered a great realist film as it tries to reproduce reality and it tends to be audience centered. Realist films strive to reveal truth about the world, or to show its beauty by imitating of its surface appearance. It attempts to be natural, life-like, and to make it seem like the events could have actually happened in real life. This essay will prove that Vertov’s film, Man with a Movie Camera (1929), in light with Bazin’s view, without any actors, script and an uninterrupted flow does reveal truth about the world. Man with a Movie Camera, is a unique film. It opens with an empty cinema then seats swivel down, and an audience hurries in and fills them. Roger Egbert stated that the “film is about--this film being made.”2 It takes place over the urban life in and around the Soviet Union. According to Samcoe a film blogger, “It is largely about film techniques and the various processes required in making one.”3 An interesting and unique aspect of "Man with a Movie Camera" is that it is a universal film in the sense that there are no title cards and no required prior knowledge of what is life in the Soviet Union. Any person in any country could watch it without any cultural or language barriers because it is also a silent film. That film also encourages its audience to have their own personal interpretation of film. It tries to make its audience think about and care about what’s happening on-screen and create their own understanding. The film appears to have different themes throughout and it consists of different events in the daily life of Russians. The movie seems to be a documentary film as well as it shows the audience about how different people in Russia live. Another interesting aspect of the "Man with a Movie Camera" is that it has no actors or story. It is stated in the beginning of the film that there are no actors or titles in the film. The film recorded real people doing real action instead of professional actors. And this aspect of the film reveals truth about the way of living in the Soviet Union. It is very unique and interesting as it represents reality to its audience. The film consists of various shots of different people doing different things living their life. It reflects different life stories, stories of the rich and the poor, happiness, and sadness. It is about showing the truth about how different people experience different things in life and how everyday people and live and carry on through their everyday situations. It tries to preserve the illusion that the film is not manipulated, and uninterrupted that reflects an objective mirror of the actual world. Focusing on the film’s editing, considering the length, the type of shots, and analyzing, it strongly supports Bazin’s view that the uninterrupted shot in realism reveals truth about the world. Stylistically, a Realist film will aim to be very simple in nature. Samcoe also stated that, “There are a wide array of interesting camera angles and editing techniques employed throughout, demonstrating movie capabilities and methods that had been developed and explored during the time 1929.”4 It is ideal that most films would be shot in a studio set or an actual location but Man with a Movie Camera is not set in a studio. It is set in different places without following any storyboard to record real action from different events and situations that provide people reality. An important aspect of this movie is in the ways scenes flow and the kinds of montage used. Many times the film would show the man with the camera then it would progress and flow to where he finds his perfect spot for filming things and people. The style of the editing used in the film is fairly simple in nature and is kept to a minimum. Some scenes were showed longer before cutting to the next. That gives the audience enough time to explore and think about the meaning of the shot. The film tends to avoid using too many cuts making the flow uninterrupted and this was prevalent throughout the movie. Having an uninterrupted flow of story gives the film less manipulation that provides its audience to think more about the reality of what they are seeing rather than how they are seeing it. Given that Vertov’s film, Man with a Movie Camera (1929), has no actors, title cards, and no needed prior knowledge of anything. And by analyzing the style of editing that he used in the film which is fairly simple in nature and is kept to a minimum, it is very natural and it reflects true–to-life stories and situations that the viewers could relate to. The people or the ‘characters’ in the film present a careful description of everyday life, usually of the lower and middle classes. Some of its uninterrupted flow shows the ordinary, familiar, or mundane aspects of life in a straightforward manner that is presumed to show life as it actually is. Therefore, I conclude that he has achieved the basic concepts of realist films and successfully revealed truth to his audience. His film provides awareness or acceptance of the facts and necessities of life during the time it was filmed. It preserves the illusion that the film is real and that it is an objective mirror that reflects truth about the actual world.
Bazin A., “What is Cinema?”, Notable Quotes: accessed October 17, 2013, http://www.notable-vvvvvvvquotes.com/p/photography_quotes.html Egbert R., “Man With Movie Camera”, Great Movie Reviews (2009): accessed October 17, 2013, xxxxxxhttp://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-man-with-a-movie-camera-1929 Samcoe, “Film Analysis”, Blogspot (2012): accessed October 17, 2013 xxxxxxhttp://csfilmanalysis.blogspot.ca/2012/01/man-with-movie-camera.html