This is a Russian, silent, surrealist film. It’s also postmodern, and that makes me look at the last postmodern movie I saw, Scorpio Rising, which was made in the sixties and said to be “one of the first postmodern films.” What a bunch of bullshit that was huh? Well, here it is, the Man with the Movie Camera. A silent movie that doesn’t know it’s silent, a black and white movie that shows the beauty of black and white rather than just the absence of color, a movie from the 20s that has the flavors of something that could have been made yesterday. This movie is a crazy anomaly of a film. It feels anachronistic, as if maybe it was made yesterday and someone just conned everyone into believing it came out in the twenties.
This movie is a combination of three genres. It’s a documentary, it says so in the beginning intertitles (the only intertitles in the movie) that it is only attempting to show things as they are. Really it is just a man with a movie camera. Then it’s surrealist, and if you know anything about surrealism you know things are going to get weird. And it’s postmodern, meaning the story it’s telling is random, out of order, and everything is flavored with deeper meaning.
The music in this movie is amazing too. I think it was recorded long after the movie was made but, though it does seem a little out of place and ahead of its time (another one of those anachronisms), I’m not entirely sure how much of it was in the original score or if it was all added after the fact. Either way, it really adds to the rest of the film. If it was written after the fact, kudos to whoever wrote it.
There’s not much in the ways of story, but it doesn’t need it. It’s more a slice of many lives throughout a big Russian town. It shows us an average day of a city as people go through their lives. It shows us birth, it shows us death, and it’s all layered in metaphor which would probably make more sense to me if I were drunk, but really it’s more interesting just seeing a film this old that’s made this well than trying to figure out “what it all means.” Though If I watch I watch it again I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the deeper meaning of it all.
Man, why aren’t there more movies like this throughout the ages? Just think we could have had postmodern movies before there was even a modern to be post to. Now THAT would have been interesting to see.
Why you should watch it before you die: I don’t see this movie being for everyone, but if you like watching movies that make you think, or just like watching postmodern films in general, this is a better example of the form than Scorpio Rising and made about 35 years before it. That’s really saying something.