Contrary to some other comments, I would not dismiss this as mere Soviet propaganda. Although the Young Pioneers are celebrated, Vertov also captured the uneasy feeling they created in some of the people they interacted with. In addition, there are many scenes of people struggling - it is not a worker's paradise by any stretch. In the end, it felt less like a cohesive film and more like a collection of shorts.
Genius editing sequences: reversing playback is a perfect way to show the "means of production" from which people were being separated. Amazing historical footage of the Russian population. The Revolution delivered instant famine, massacres, and corruption; no camera could hide how malnourished those kids and adults are. Loved the trench dining table! Loved the emphasis on increasing the literacy rate!
When viewing the staged images of all of these smiling marching children in the first half I couldn’t but imagine the tragedy, horror and famine to come. The precursor to Leni Reifenstahl’s ‘Triumph Of The Will’ and the prototype of all propaganda films to follow. Redeemed somewhat by the sheer humanity of the last reel and the creative editing.
For its time, it is certainly something to behold. On the other hand, its propaganda on too many levels. Unfortunately, I've always found the absence of diegetic sound discomforting. A silent film has to be pretty special for me to get over this loss, and this one just isn't. It is, however, subtly amusing, and technically brilliant, so there's that.
"No more traditions chains shall bind us; arise ye slaves, no more in thrall!" The camera, freed from motives of profit & pandering, freed from the tyranny of human limitations, a modernist (futurist!) mechanical eye, capable of seeing the world beyond restricted perceptions of time & space, imparting the lessons necessary for the transition to the glorious proletarian/machine future! Rapturous experimental cinema.