Man with a Movie Camera Scene Analysis

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Man with a Movie Camera Revision

Scene 1 - 9:11 - Train/Morning Routine

Exam Questions

  • The impact of different viewing contexts on the spectator experience

  • The critical awareness of the spectator

Scene Analysis

  • A clear juxtaposition is shown as there is a quick cut montage of the two routines, one being very peaceful and the other dangerous and chaotic - This represents the vast differences between how people live their lives in the city

  • “We see a hole being dug between two train tracks, and later a train racing straight towards the camera. We’re reminded that when the earliest movie audiences saw such a shot, they were allegedly terrified, and ducked down in their seats.” - Roger Ebert’s review

  • Avant garde - Viewers had never seen anything like this before, similar techniques such as shot length are more commonly found within modern Hollywood cinema

  • Critical response - “The producer, Dziga Vertov, does not take into consideration the fact that the human eye fixes for a certain space of time that which holds the attention.” - Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times

  • Similar in style to a classical silent film or a melodramatic piece when the foot is ‘trapped’ in the tracks

  • At the time this style would be expected within a different genre with more fictional elements, it wouldn’t typically be associated with a documentary film.

  • By rapidly cutting between a sleeping woman and the cameraman creates a dream like state, resembles her waking up in the morning.

  • Within the first shots of the woman in bed shows her being rudely awakened by what seems to be a bad dream or nightmare, the train could symbolically be referring this dream state of hers.

  • The context in which spectators view this film is also crucial - Audiences in 1929 would find this style of film very intense and before it’s time meaning they wouldn’t fully appreciate the advances within documentary as it blurs the line between fiction and reality. Compare this to a modern day audience, they would be able to appreciate the modern day ASL and realise that the film itself is stylistically similar to documentaries today.

  • Link with The Thin Blue Line due to their use of performative elements and fictional undertones throughout, both films are engaging audiences dramatically

Scene 2 -32:19 - Ambulance Pursuit

Exam Questions

  • Similarities with fiction films, particularly regarding narrative and character

  • The pleasures of a documentary

  • The relationship between spectator and screen

Scene Analysis

  • The cameraman is presented to be the hero of the film - putting his life on the line to capture these shots by standing in the car.

  • “The only continuing figure- not a character- is the Man With a Movie Camera.” Roger


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