In 1925, the city council was up for re-election and commissioned Vertov to make a film for them. Clearly, they expected some kind of propaganda piece; instead they got a provocative, highly innovative work that reflects on one of Vertov’s favorite themes, the “humanization of machines” vs. the “mechanization of humanity”. Not surprisingly, after suggesting an enormous range of cuts and additions, the authorities refused to show the film. —seagullfilms.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
Dziga Vertove directed this early Soviet documentary to demonstrate the achievements of the Moscow Municipal Council in the lead-up to the elections in 1926. By contrasting former hardships with current progress, Vertov hails modern progress of the council, while spending hardly any time with the council at all. More overtly propagandist and less dynamic than his more experimental docs like MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA.