Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Man With a Movie Camera (1929)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Man With a Movie Camera (1929, Soviet Union) (aka Chelovek S Kinoapparatom, or Человек C Kино-Aппаратом)

In Soviet director Dziga Vertov's quintessential experimental, avante-garde film - an excellent example of a "city symphony" documentary, and regarded as "pure" visual cinema without a plot, action, setting or dialogue (or intertitles); the use of radical hyper-editing techniques, variable camera speeds, dissolves, special visual effects, stop-motion, wild juxtapositions of images, freeze frames, split-screens, and super-imposed double exposures - a precursor of Koyaanisqatsi (1982) and MTV videos:

  • the many day-in-Soviet-life views of Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa, of Russian workers and machines, after the arrival of a camera man (Mikhail Kaufman) (with an old-styled hand-cranked camera with a tripod) in a very-static and dead city, that suddenly became enlivened and energized by his arrival
  • the film's opening - an empty film theatre, where the seats folded down by themselves, and the audience entered to watch a film (this film!)
  • the double-exposure, camera-trickery shot of a cameraman setting up his camera atop another camera
  • the fast-moving, free-association of images (over 1,700 shots and scenes of everyday life), all presented with an average of 2.3 seconds per shot length - was wholly unprecedented in the late 1920s
Free-Association of Film Images
  • the images: street scenes, close-ups of machinery, architecture, nature, beaches and beach crowds, workers, birth/wedding/death-funeral, static shots (a typewriter keyboard, a store window display), etc. - some images were displayed as dissolves, split-screens, in slow-motion, or as super-impositions or double exposures
  • the best example of stop-motion were the playful views of the tripod-camera acting anthropomorphically, by rotating its camera-head around, and then beginning to walk away on its three legs
  • the ending, including some views of the actual process of the editing of the film by the cameraman, accentuated by the super-imposed image of a human eye looking out of a camera lens
The Ending

Camera Trickery

Filming an Oncoming Train

Movie Camera Lens

Birth of Baby

Eyeball Reflection

Stop Motion of Anthropomorphic Camera


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