Joe Morgenstern Picks The Man with the Movie Camera for KCRW’s DVD Club

We’re honored to announce KCRW has named Dziga Vertov: The Man with the Movie Camera and Other Newly-Restored Works as one of its exclusive DVD Club selections. Each year, Wall Street Journal film critic and KCRW film commentator, Joe Morgenstern handpicks 7 titles for each DVD Club member to receive. The Man with the Movie Camera marks the first time a Blu-ray collection has been chosen. Says Morgenstern, “If you don’t have a Blu-Ray player I hope this provides the incentive to buy one . . . In what’s becoming the age of downloads and digital streaming, everything seems to be available, but believe me, it’s not, and certainly not available with the clarity and scholarly presentation of this remarkable achievement.” Read Morgenstern’s full letter to KCRW DVD Club members below.

 

KCRW Letter + Vertov Cover

 

Dear DVD Club Member,

In one sense, my latest choice for the DVD Club could not be more remote from contemporary movies—at least, as they’re defined by what’s showing these days in this country’s tens of thousands of multiplexes. “The Man with the Movie Camera” is silent, and was made in Russia 86 years ago. In a deeper sense, though, Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece –named the best documentary ever made by Sight & Sound, and newly restored—is a wellspring from which much of contemporary filmmaking technique flows.

A landmark in the evolution of the medium, “The Man with the Movie Camera” opens with a main-title declaration: “This experimental work aims at creating a truly international absolute language of cinema based on its total separation from the language of theatre and literature.” Then, in a mere 68-minute running time, the film delivers fully on its grand promise with scenes of urban life in the Soviet Union and idealized visions of industrialization (Vertov wasn’t much interested in the countryside), as well as remarkably sophisticated examples — montages, action shots, symbolic images — of what cinema alone can do.

Flicker Alley’s release honors the film’s significance in movie history. The disc is in Blu-Ray format, which shows the material to best advantage, but will not play in conventional DVD players. If you don’t have a Blu-Ray player I hope this provides the incentive to buy one. (No longer expensive, they’re priced pretty much as a commodity.) In what’s becoming the age of downloads and digital streaming, everything seems to be available, but believe me, it’s not, and certainly not available with the clarity and scholarly presentation of this remarkable achievement.

All the best,
Joe Morgenstern

Dziga Vertov: The Man with the Movie Camera and Other Newly-Restored Works is now available on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.

 

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6.8.2015