So here’s the deal: I watched Man With A Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929) and I hate what I’m about to say.
This movie made me think.
There, I said it. I wouldn’t consider myself a person who seeks out mainstream film per se (Horrible Bosses made me laugh, I’m not ashamed) but the avant-garde style has never been one to peak my interest very much, with a few exceptions. Had I been flipping through the channels and chosen to watch this movie, I probably wouldn’t have considered it a documentary because it could be about absolutely anything. Or possibly nothing, depending how you view the world.
Is that the point?
Some scenes had a surreal feel, like the opening shot on top of the camera and the chairs folding themselves back and forth while many other shots were just observing people, many even waving to the camera. The movie was made in editing. Why a man climbing a tower is preceded trains parking may have some significant specific meaning to the editor, or maybe not. They seem randomly assembled. Many argue that it depicts everyday life. I am not so sure. It does SHOW a lot of people going about their everyday lives, but it is up to ME while I watch it to determine their relation. I couldn’t stop thinking about the Kuleshov experiment and how the order of shots creates a different story or meaning.
I don’t know what Man With A Movie Camera means, but it made me think. I can’t buy into it just being a documentary that depicts every day life. Not yet, at least.