(aka "Chelovek s kino-apparatom" or "Living Russia, or The Man with a Camera" or "The Man with the Movie Camera")

 

directed by Dziga Vertov
Soviet Union 1929

 

This kaleidoscopic city symphony-- conjoining Moscow, Kiev, Odessa into one metametropolis-- may be the most densely edited movie ever made. Vertov matches the rhythms of a single day to the cycle of life, and the mechanisms of moviemaking to the logic of industrial production.... The Man With the Movie Camera is at once a Whitmanesque documentary-portrait of the Soviet people, a reflexive essay on cinematic representation, and an ecstatic ode to human labor as a process of transformation.

Excerpt from J. Hoberman's Review in the Village Voice

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 8th, 1929

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL vs. British Film Institute (Nyman Edition) - Region 2 - PAL vs. British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL

(Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Arte Video

Region 2 - PAL

Absolut Medien
Region 0 - PAL

(British Film Institute - Nyman Edition - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

British Film Institute (Nyman Edition)
Region 2 - PAL
British Film Institute
Region 2 - PAL

(arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

Distribution

Arte Video

Region 2 - PAL

Absolut Medien
Region 0 - PAL
British Film Institute (Nyman Edition)
Region 2 - PAL
British Film Institute
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:07:38 (4% PAL speedup) 1:06:40 (4% PAL speedup) 1:07:02 (4% PAL speedup) 1:08:09 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.66 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.80 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.90 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

arte Video

 

Bitrate:

 

absolut Medien

 

Bitrate:

 

British Film Institute (Nyman)

 

NOT AVAILABLE

Bitrate:

 

British Film Institute

 

Audio Alloy Orchestra Score (Dolby Digital 2.0), Volga Select Score (Dolby Digital 5.1),

Michael Nyman Score (Dolby Digital 2.0), Werner CEE Score (Dolby Digital 2.0), In the Nursery Score (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Michael Nyman's score (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Alloy Orchestra Score (Dolby Digital 2.0), In the Nursery Score (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles French German English English (forced in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: arte Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Un si joli mot: le montage Documentary by Bernard Eisenschitz
• Analysis of the Film by Luc Lagier

DVD Release Date: January 20th, 2004

Chapters 29

Release Information:
Studio: absolut Medien

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• In the Land of the Film Veterans: Filmexpedition to Dziga Vertov by Thomas Tode

 

DVD Release Date: July 31st, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 29

Release Information:
Studio: Bfi (Nyman's score)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1:1.33

Edition Details:
• Film Posters (0.33)
• Nyman Biography (2 pages)
• Vertov Biography (8 pages)

DVD Release Date: 22 Jul 2002
limited edition souvenir tin case

Chapters 13

Release Information:
Studio: British Film Institute

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Yuri Tsivian

 

DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2000
Keep Case

Chapters 16

  

Comments:

ADDITION: BFI Nyman Edition - Nov 07': The BFI DVD with Michael Nyman's score uses the same source that the German Absolut Medien, although the BFI image looks as if it may be a shade sharper. The BFI disc is picture boxed (black borders on every corner) and the actual screen ratio on the DVD is 1:1.24. I believe that the OAR should be in 1:1.19 for these silent film. There's no subtitles during the film, only a brief introduction with Russian title card translations to English. It doesn't appear to exhibit the chroma found in the Arte and older BFI edition. For some it may be the one to get.

Per-Olaf Strandberg

****

On the First three posted: With these three releases of Dziga Vertov's essential "Man with a Movie Camera" we get quite a wide range of diverging quality. Let's start with the worst.

The already 7 year old BFI disc is the obvious loser. It lacks sharpness, detail and is full of artefacts (many of them are in color, which damages the black and white image severely). The screenshots should already give you an impression of this very poor transfer, yet it looks even worse in motion, particularly if you use a projector.

The choices of score here are the Alloy Orchestra and In the Nursery Scores. I know a lot of people who love the In the Nursery track, yet I've always been enamored with the Alloy Orchestra score, because it provides the perfect dynamic rhythm that the images demand.
 

The only extra on the BFI release is an audio commentary by film historian Yuri Tsivian. Tsivian explains Vertov's revolutionary techniques and intentions, such as the concept of catching "life unawares" and ignoring the conventions of narrative cinema. It's a very informative and insightful track, certainly worth more than one listen.

In motion, the French arte and German absolut Medien releases look quite similar. Yet upon closer inspection I've found the German release to be the clear winner. No disc of "Man with a Movie Camera" that I have seen so far has displayed this sharpness, crispness and detail. The black and white imagery is beautifully preserved and the contrast is excellent throughout.

Just look at the very first screencap and you'll see the ranking immediately. While the French arte disc isn't quite as sharp and detailed as the German release, it is still far superior in quality to the disastrous BFI job.

Score-wise the German release disappointed me, due to the lack of the fantastic Alloy Orchestra score. This score isn't just my own personal preference, but is absolutely indispensable due to being faithfully based on Vertov's notes and musical instructions. Any DVD release of "Man with a Movie Camera" that wants to call itself "ultimate" must include this soundtrack. Just to further proof my point regarding this score, here's J. Hoberman's comment from the Village Voice:

"The three-man ensemble's original score (for Man with a Movie Camera) - a syncopated noise symphony that, at once homemade and high-tech, mixes radio transmissions, birdcalls, and police sirens- surpasses all expectations in its sensitivity to Vertov's wit, eccentricity, and sense of rhythm. ...A once-in-a-life-time experience."

J. Hoberman, Village Voice
 

The German disc's scores are all thoroughly disappointing. All of them are experimental tracks, surely with good intentions, yet I can only tell you that once you hear the Alloy Orchestra score you will never want to listen to any another musical accompaniment for this film again.

As for bonus material, on the German release one can find the 80-minute plus documentary "In the Land of the Film Veterans: Filmexpedition to Dziga Vertov" in which Thomas Tode goes on a pilgrimage to pay tribute to the great Soviet director. Alas, the only subtitles are German ones which pop up during conversations in Russian.

The French arte disc on the other hand does have the Alloy score and presents it in wonderful quality. In addition to that they offer a so-called Volga Select score.

The major extra on the arte disc is the documentary "Un si joli mot: le montage" by Bernard Eisenschitz, in which we get a history of the Soviet cinema of the 1920s. There's also a brief but insightful analysis of certain aspects of "Man with a Movie Camera" by Luc Lagier. Alas, those extras are unsubtitled as well.

My overall verdict is that the German disc by absolut Medien (co-produced by arte) is the unquestionable winner. It can be ordered inexpensively from amazon.de and features a simply beautiful looking transfer, which is all the more astounding regarding the film's age. The arte disc from France runs a close second. It isn't quite as sharp as detailed as the German release, but still presents a very good looking image. The major plus here is the essential Alloy Orchestra score. The lack of it on the German release is the only reason why it cannot be considered complete.
The BFI disc from England is very bad and should be avoided at all costs. I assume that we can expect an updated BFI release of the film in the near future, but until then I urge you to stay away from their current release, which (even though it features Yuri Tsivian's wonderful commentary) presents a muddy, blurry and artefact-ridden image.

 - Stan Czarnecki

 



DVD Menus
(
Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

(British Film Institute - Nyman Edition - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Arte Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Absolut Medien - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) British Film Institute NYMAN EDITION - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) British Film Institute - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM

 

 

 


DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Arte Video

Region 2 - PAL

Absolut Medien
Region 0 - PAL

British Film Institute (Nyman Edition)
Region 2 - PAL
British Film Institute
Region 2 - PAL

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Image:

BFI (Nyman)

Sound:

Arte Video / BFI (Nyman)

Extras: Arte Video
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