Perhaps best known for Man with the Movie Camera (1929), director Dziga Vertov’s earlier assemblage documentary A Sixth Part of the World (1926) positions itself first as a condemnation of some Soviet citizens’ fascination with Western culture while workers toil to maintain the economy for the good of the Soviet Union, later as a celebration of the diversity of cultures and achievements of Soviet citizens.
At first reveling in a counterpoint of contrasts, with sequences of the well-to-do people of large cities cut against shots of poor ethnic peoples toiling, the film slowly coalesces into a parade of celebratory images, of simple country peoples working and playing, to make its central and affirming statement about the human nobility of diversity and hard labor.
Justly celebrated as an example of pure cinema, representing an artform that cannot be approached or replicated in other media, Vertov’s work often (as it does in A Sixth Part of the World) transcended mere assemblage to become a cohesive epic visual tone poem.
The film is also quite valuable as an anthropological visual document of the remote cultures and natural resources of the Soviet Union of the 1920s, capturing as it does many of the daily activities of its diverse citizens at work and play. —SilentEra.com
The theories and experimental films of Dziga Vertov revolutionized documentary cinema and continue to influence filmmakers ranging from Godard to Stan Brakhage to Chris Marker. He was born Denis Arkadievitch Kaufman in Bialystok, Poland (which at the time was part of Czarist Russia), the son of a librarian. His brothers, Mikhail Kaufman and Boris Kaufman, both became noted cinematographers. Vertov began writing poetry at age ten and at 16 was attending the Bialystok Music Conservatory where he studied violin and piano. A resident of Russia since 1915, Vertov studied neurology in St. Petersburg in 1917. While there, he began researching human perception with sound and created a Laboratory of Hearing in which he made montages of natural sounds and then tried to re-create them by grouping them in phonetic units. He took his pseudonym (loosely translated as “spinning top” or literally “top turning”) at this time.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Vertov was invited to become… read more
Some of the first movie posters that I ever took seriously, or seriously loved, were Soviet posters of the 1920s. Instantly arresting, intensely