[From The Guardian]
When a cinephile friend proposed an early Soviet documentary instead of Magic Mike XXL this week, I was sceptical. I prepared myself for 80 minutes of well-built workers extolling the virtues of collective agriculture.
But in Man With a Movie Camera – newly restored and showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London – late 1920s Russia and Ukraine positively fizz with life. In the hands of director Dziga Vertov, everyday goings-on, such as hitching a ride on a tram, having your hair done or washing clothes in a tub, take on an almost transcendent quality.
There’s gossip and laughter over beer and cigarettes, women in cloche hats riding in carriages, a conjurer delighting children with vanishing white mice. Beachgoers slather themselves with mud on the shores of the Black Sea. Babies are born, we witness a funeral procession, and weddings and divorces are recorded at the local register office. All the stuff of life is there, and there’s little sense of propaganda: if anything, Vertov seems to poke fun at the local “Lenin club” and the shooting gallery where punters take aim at a cartoonish “father of fascism”.
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