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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dziga Vertov: Kino-Glaz

Кино-Глаз (Kino-Eye), made by Dziga Vertov in 1924, announces already his masterpiece, the Man with a Camera. Of course, it's far from the great perfection of the latter, it's much more agit-prop, and so on; but it has the same alertness, the same freshness and optimism, the same great eye for making a detail relevant (the doggy that is seen just a second near the table of drinkers). And the same courage to experiment: here in Kino-Glaz it's about the reverse shooting.

This video makes a synthesis of the whole: the movie is 78 minutes long. A documentary centered on a group of Pioneers (the Communist version of Boy-Scouts): their enthusiastic activities link together various short sequences, edited forward and backward, just to sustain a lesson of Marxist political economy. Look what Yuri Tsivian has to say about, in his monumental study of Vertov's art (included in Masterpieces of Modernist Cinema, editor Ted Perry):

Why is shopping at the Red Supermarket better than buying the same piece of meat at the market? This has something to do with its quality, or sanitary control, or prices, our consumer instinct prompts us. Wrong answer. The true nature of meat, as of any commodity (Marx dixit, and Vertov believes it), is defined not by qualities inherent in the end product, but by the character of labor involved in its production.

And the enthusiastic Vertov makes the demonstration by using his experiments in reverse editing, taking the packages of beef meat and going back to the slaughterhouse, putting the entrails back to the bull, skinning him, bringing him back to life, and carrying him back by railroad to his herds.

(Dziga Vertov)



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