Man with a Movie Camera - Cinematography and Sound

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Man with a Movie Camera

Discuss the significance of cinematography and sound in shaping the response to the documentary films you have studied for this topic.

Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) is a black and white silent film made in the Soviet Union. There is no specific story or plot, the movie showcases images of life in Russia (more specifically in the cities Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa) and the cameraman as he obtains the shots. The shots are cleverly edited together to create a loose theme or story relying heavily on the cinematography and sound to shape a response.

Cinematography

  • The film is shot with two cameras, one showing specific images, and the second camera showing the first camera and operator Kaufman (Vertov’s brother) - Reflexive mode of documentary

  • Vertov uses many different filming techniques to disorient the viewer, contextualize the scene, and symbolize an idea

  • The film incorporates different camera speeds and exposures, tracking and trick shots, close-ups and stop motion animation

  • Key Scene - 45:55 to 47:48 - Sports Montage

  • The horse galloping around the track - During this scene, Vertov used a carriage to track alongside the horse, and then slowed the frame rate down so the horse galloped in slow motion. In the 1920s slow motion filmmaking would have been a new concept for many audiences, however it not only captures the avant garde nature of the film but also the idea that beauty can be found in everyday life

  • The camera operator is able to achieve some amazing slow motion and sped up shots by adjusting the speed he cranks the camera and the speed the film moves across the imaging plane. Some specific shots of note were images of sports that were slowed down, like a goalie blocking a soccer ball, some high jumpers, and a man doing the hammer throw

  • By choosing to

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