Essay: Movie Camera Cinematic Techniques Employed in Vertov

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Movie Camera

Cinematic Techniques Employed in Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera

In 1929, the industrial revolution was helping to make the city a place of tremendous growth, opportunity and modernization. These dramatic changes in the civil landscape would produce sweeping cultural, technological and artistic shifts as well. The evolving field of cinema would reflect as much in both its technique and its experimentation such as is demonstrated by Russian director and cinematograph Dziga Vertov's groundbreaking Man With a Movie Camera. With bold innovation permeating the cities of the new Soviet Union and the field of filmmaking, Vertov seizes on both to create a film that is as much a promotion of the sheer diversity new cinematic techniques available at the time as it is a commentary on the evolving metropolis.

Intersecting the landscape of several modern cities in Russia and the Ukraine with shots of a filmmaker in action, Vertov's film creates a compelling existential experience that inherently demands commentary on the human condition. This is well-reflected by the filmmaker's employ of certain distinct cinematic techniques. Specific among them, Friedberg (1994) provides our text with an explanation of 'mobilized gaze' and virtual gaze. According to Friedberg, "the mobilized gaze has a history, which begins well before cinema and is rooted in other cultural activities that involve walking and travel." (Friedberg, p. 2)

Quite certainly, these experiences are central to the film by Vertov. The filmmaker's presence is as a figure in constant motion, taking in human activity as a panorama of experiences that spread across a wide geographical expanse. Densely packed marketplaces with fast-paced rushes of humanity are contrasted with individuals at work in their respective storefronts; trolleys rolling by chaotically and fountains flowing quietly; frenetic shoppers and merchants contrasted with absurd, untouched window displays. The experiences of work, commerce and transport all carry a certain consumptive hazard that must surely be a product of this new age of industrial production. For Vertov, there appears to be equal parts admiration and trepidation with respect to the utopian visions of urban modernity implied by the promises of industrialization.

Immersed in all of this human activity is the filmmaker himself, and at a considerable risk many times which implies some level of skepticism where utopian promises are concerned. This is particularly so in such scenes as that which finds the filmmaker placing his head down to the ground with the approach of a speeding locomotive, intent on getting the best possible shot before death becomes imminent. The drama of the moment is intensified as shots of the speeding train are interspliced with those of a woman waking up and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Movie Camera Cinematic Techniques Employed in Vertov.  (2011, December 24).  Retrieved October 14, 2019, from

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"Movie Camera Cinematic Techniques Employed in Vertov."  December 24, 2011.  Accessed October 14, 2019.