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Man With A Movie Camera

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As part of its five-title series of Soviet avant garde reissues, Kino has released, for the first time on video, the restored, newly scored version of Dziga Vertov's hypnotic masterpiece Man With A Movie Camera. First released in 1929, Man With A Movie Camera is one of the most daringly experimental films ever made. Though their proper use was the subject of considerable debate, the greatest innovations of silent Soviet cinema came in the form of editing techniques, and Vertov takes a number of these techniques to their dizzying extremes with this film. A brief prologue announces that Man With A Movie Camera will contain no intertitles, plot or theatrical devices—Vertov considered fictional projects untruthful and counter-revolutionary—and will be an attempt "at creating a truly international, absolute language of cinema based on its total separation from the language of theater and literature." This is brought about through a series of glances at modern Russian life, edited together in a fascinating Möbius strip, with the action moving from filmed scenes, to scenes of people filming, to scenes of film being edited, to scenes of an audience reacting to the film and back again with amazing fluidity. The camera itself is alternately leering, detached, and the subject of the film. Man With A Movie Camera is something of an impenetrable masterpiece, and a stylistic dead end, but in the same sense as Joyce's Ulysses. It's a unique, unforgettable, enlightening experience.