“This experimental work aims at creating a truly international absolute language of cinema based on its total separation from the language of theater and literature.”
Without any meta-narrative or voiceover, Vertov shows us strategically “representative” snippets of urban Soviet life, from morning to night, inside and out. We see couples getting married and divorced, factory employees hard at work, teeming crowds on streets, trains coming and going, athletes showing off their prowess — even an actual birth in graphic detail (though it comes and goes too quickly for us to feel anything other than basic recognition). Naturally, all these events didn’t actually take place in just one day, or even in one city — in truth, it took Vertov and his team over four years to gather the extensive footage across Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. Meanwhile, Vertov frequently cuts away either to the editing room (where the footage is being manipulated), or to a movie theater, where viewers are watching the scenes unfold — thus reminding us continuously about the highly constructed nature of his narrative. It all makes for an invaluable, multifaceted snapshot of an era and a society, while simultaneously providing an audaciously radical commentary on the very nature of cinematic representation.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)