Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Still haven't watched F for Fake--maybe tonight (overdue fines kick in tomorrow)--but spent another enjoyable evening talking about film till past midnight with Cullin at French Roast--we missed our blogmates, knowing they would only add to the fun. Cullen had recommended and loaned me Dziga Vertov's Man with the Movie Camera (1929), a Russian "silent" film, because earlier on our blog, from a web definition of essays that I'd given to my new (sprg '06) Essay Writing class, Vertov was described as "[p]erhaps the original essay filmmaker" (

Vertov's film is a 68-minute visual urban symphony--it's so musical and so urban--but let me quote from the DVD case:

Described by Dziga Vertov ... as an "experiment in the language of pure cinema," Man with the Movie Camera is perhaps the most dazzling and sophisticated work not only of Soviet but of world silent cinema. In part it is a "city symphony," although its urban landscape is actually a film synthesis of shots taken in Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and elsewhere. In part, it is a panorama of and a manifesto on the nature of socialist society in the late 1920s. But it is especially a revelation of the possibilities of non-acted, non-fiction films: We see the cinema projectionist show the reel we are actually viewing; the "star" is the film's actual cameraman at work; the shots we see him take will reappear elsewhere as we see the film editor create emotional and intellectual moments from unrelated lengths of footage....This stunning new DVD edition .... features the potent score composed and performed [in 1996 or 1997] by the Alloy Orchestra, following music instructions written by Dziga Vertov.... (c 1996 Film Preservation Associates)

Sometimes, the play of visual rhythms reminded me of Busby Berklee's films and the sound of Gershwin's "An American in Paris," and I was never bored--it's very playful, and, I perceived, anti-Communist, but I could be wrong about that. I was also reminded of every other film in which the filmmaker metacognates--Day for Night, etc. [Here's a list I'd love to see expanded.] And seeing Vertov riding his bicycle with one hand while winding the movie camera with the other
(wait a minute, that's 3 hands...???) [is that how it worked? hand-wound filming? hand-wound/bicyclist-powered everything metaphors abound...] while filming was very amusing. I'd watch it again (and the informative extra stuff), especially if I found an uninterrupted 68 minutes (or more) lying around. I never heard his name before reading it on the essay-definition website, but Cullen says his name is very well known to film buffs. See how much we have to learn?!! [c'mon, blog to learn!] I'd like to read something about him...maybe he's in my newly-purchased documentary film history books, gathering dust under last week's Times...



Blogger Cinema Journal said...

Metacognates--new word for me. The definition I found was "The knowledge of one's own thinking processes and strategies, and the ability to consciously reflect and act on the knowledge of cognition to modify those processes and strategies" "Day for Night" is wonderful. Other favorites include Fellini's "8 1/2," Fassbinder's "Beware of a Holy Whore" and Bergman's "The Passion of Anna." And, of course, Welles' "F For Fake." What I find so insightful about these films is how their specificity doesn't limit their outreach--it actually seems to expand it.

2:23 PM  

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