Sunday, January 28, 2007

Modernization Through The Eye Of A Camera

Unlike mainstream films today, Dziga Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera provides a unique perspective on film in an era of rapid industrialization and modernization. One main difference for this film was its theme, where most movies concentrate on external themes, and Vertov centers around the camera itself. The camera represents a new theory of the Cine-eye, where it observes society through an objective lens. An interesting take on this film is that the film follows the lives of a man filming around a town and a film editor, both whom work as “Cine-eye pilots” in producing this alternate view on the dawning of movies.

The first striking scene is the opening scene with an empty theatre, representing an end to classical theatre where there are no theatrics and only a pure objective form of film. Also the mechanical seats contrasts with the chaotic entering crowd shows a dawning era of mechanized industrialism that will conflict with our chaotic society. Also the orchestra stayed silent until certain parts of the film, which also shows this control that the mechanical film has over a multifaceted chaotic orchestra.

Aside from the opening scene, the following scene of sleeping people seemed to show a time before industrialization and film where the world stayed dormant and lacked communication. But the stillness in industrial areas, such as cogs and machines, show the beginnings of a rapidly industrializing world, namely Russia with its rapid 5-year plans that aimed to bring the Soviet Union to the modern world in record time. Later with the awakening, the film showed birds, speeding trains, and people rapidly getting ready. Also in this moment the man with the movie camera began to roll his film, signifying a new era of modernization and growth. Even conflicts between old and new are shown with the clash between a train stopping for a horse carriage. And yet with all the growing chaos around society with rapid industrialization, the cameraman and his camera seem isolated from these changes.

A division occurs in the film when time stops, as the film’s ability to control time takes over. The film editor is seen looking at each individual frame, representing not only the controlled time of film, but also presents the many facets of human life & society. Also the film looks at opposite parts of human society with a marriage registration, then a divorce registration, a death, and a birth. These all show how the camera is all-seeing and with each frame it sees so much, especially when a blinking eye (like different frames) showed many different images.

An important recurring theme is the camera continually rolling alongside the cameraman, also the changing of the stop sign by a policeman all represent a continual changing environment with the Cine-eye as a constant and objective onlooker. This overlooking theme is exemplified with the huge camera superimposed on the city landscape looking over all the movement of society.

All these moments show many parts of the camera and its function as a creator of a new era where mechanized industry takes over society. Finally, film functions as a storyteller and storywriter for the future with its new a revolutionary technique of objectivism.



Blogger Jeff said...

I agree with your idea of how the sleeping time is before the industrial age in the train coming by this like symbolism for the awakening of this new era of technology. And also how you said stop sign replacing police officer is like technology replacing the human effect.

1/28/2007 2:01 PM  
Blogger Guillermo Murga said...

I never thought about the opening scene at the theatre being an end to live performances and transitioning to the era of the motion picture-very interesting analysis. I agree with how the movie tries to capture the beginning of this era of technology. I had no idea Russia was that advance during the Lenin days. Maybe it was a way for the outside world to see into communistic Russia?

1/28/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting read regarding the transition into the industrial age. I would be interested to hear how that continues on in the film past the point where the film stops, or even if it does. Under this reading, what do you think the slowing of industry near the middle of the film represents?

Also, good point in the previous comment about this being a way for the outside world to see Russia. At the time the government had to approve all films that were made so they could censor anything that made Russia look bad. Additionally, they set the bar a little higher by trying to make sure there was Soviet propaganda in films as well.

1/28/2007 8:07 PM  

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