Rabu, 08 Juni 2011

Dziga Vertov - Kino-pravda no. 18 (1924)

As an exception to our programming rule the 18th and 19th issues of Kino-Pravda (both 1924) are being shown out of sequence. We wanted them to be seen together with Vertov’s 1926 A Sixth Part of the World to make more salient a peculiar — uniquely Vertovian — genre to which these three films belong. Vertov called this genre probegi kinoapparata — movie-camera runs, or races, across far-apart geographic locations. The thrill of this genre is that these are all impossible travels, visionary voyages, imagined pan-planetary pans. Kino-Pravda No. 18 takes the viewer from West to East, Kino-Pravda No. 19, North to South; and A Sixth Part of the World is a movie journey around the vast territory of the Soviet Union. The first of the three, Kino-Pravda No. 18 ("A race in the direction of Soviet reality"), was conceived as a journey on more than one level. It looks like a journey because Vertov starts with found footage filmed in Paris, and moves on to the footage shot in Russia, and it certainly feels like one — for the sequence that links Paris and Moscow has been assembled from travelling shots.
It is not just a camera race, it is a relay race: Vertov edits together various kinds of camera movement, reflecting the camera’s mode of transport. We are first taken up the Eiffel Tower, its magnificent girders slowly gliding by (this movie-camera ascent, the title tells us, is dedicated to the memory of the tower’s builder — Gustave Eiffel died in 1923). From there, a plane takes over. A title, "The movie camera lands in the territory of the USSR," is followed by a shot taken from the undercarriage of a descending airplane, as fields and meadows loom up rapidly below us. As the movie camera lands, it is taken over by a racing car ("Auto race Petrograd-Moscow," the title reads). This is perhaps the closest Vertov’s film practice ever came to his somewhat elusive theoretical concept of "intervals", formulated in his manifesto "We" in 1922: "Kinoculism is the art of organizing the necessary movements of objects in space as a rhythmical artistic whole, in harmony with the properties of the material and the internal rhythm of each object. Intervals (the transition from one movement to another) are the material, the element of the art of movement, and by no means the movements themselves. It is they (the intervals) which draw the movement to a kinetic resolution."
As usual, smychka (announced by its signature emblem, the handshake) is one of the dominant themes in Kino-Pravda No. 18, but here Vertov decides to illustrate it in an off-beat way. The movie camera picks out a bearded man in the crowd, who turns out to be a peasant, Vasilii Siriakov, who has come all the way from Yaroslav Province to see Moscow, and the camera shows us Moscow through the peasant’s eye. "The movie camera pursues him," a title announces, whereupon a shadow of a man cranking a movie camera is shown. "The same peasant on his way to the Agricultural Exhibition" — and Siriakov is shown riding on a tram, all the while observing the tram conductor and the driver at work. The camera shadows our peasant everywhere. At one point he winds up in a Goskino workshop — at the moment when a baby is being Octobrized. What does this mean, "Octobrized"? The same as baptized — but in a workers’ collective instead of a church, and into Communism rather than a religion. (Invented with an eye to replacing church christening, this stopgap ritual never took root.) What is the best name for a newborn boy? You guessed it — and in an extreme close-up, we see the name "Vladimir" emerging from a worker’s mouth. All present are singing (guess which song?) as the boy is passed around — from a Communist worker to a Komsomol youngster and to a Young Pioneer. "To the Red Citizen Vladimir" (more singing faces) "grow healthy, Comrade" (close-up of hands holding the baby in the air). Workers at work. "Vladimir." Machine-tools at work. "Vladimir." The editing accelerates. "Vladimir." And intercut with all this, the recurrent shadow of the man with the camera, at work.


Auto race Petrograd-Moscow

The Cigarette Girl



"octobrizing" no. 18.avi

no pass

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