As you might guess from the rather impertinent possessive in the title, Michael Nyman's Man with a Movie Camera
is a re-release of Dziga Vertov's 1929 experimentalist classic provided with a score by Michael Nyman. Those who know and love Nyman's music--and come to that, those who know and dislike it--will know pretty well what to expect: fluent orchestral minimalism turned out by the yard. The mood and the tempo scarcely vary, no matter what Vertov's showing us or how fast or slow the rhythm of his cutting. The effect is to tone down the excitement and audacity of Vertov's ideas and render them safe and even a touch bland.
If you're a Nyman fan, this is definitely for you. Otherwise, the earlier BFI release of the same film has not one but two alternative scores: a pounding, heroic, forward-with-the-Soviets affair from the Alloy Orchestra, closely based on Vertov's own notes of the kind of orchestral accompaniment he wanted for his film; and a second from the progressive group In the Nursery, gentler and more expressionist, drawing on state-of-the-art music technology. (As a third option, the BFI release includes a well-informed voice-over commentary from film historian Yuri Tsivian.)
On the DVD: Michael Nyman's Man with a Movie Camera comes to DVD packed in a hinged square metal tin reminiscent of the ones that hold small Dutch cigars. There are printed biogs of Vertov and Nyman, the latter rather cloyingly fulsome ("a man of impeccable musical credentials"). The transfer is excellent and pretty well complete; a few minor blemishes where the original nitrate stock had deteriorated scarcely detract. --Philip Kemp
Michael Nyman s MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA
A film by Dziga Vertov
Man With a Movie Camera is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking, a montage of urban Russian life showing the people of the city at work and at play, and the machines that keep the city going. It was Vertov's first full-length film, and he used all the cinematic techniques at his disposal - dissolves, split screen, slow motion and freeze-frames - to produce a work that is exhilarating and intellectually brilliant.
This special edition DVD features a unique soundtrack specially composed by Michael Nyman and performed by the Michael Nyman band.
Michael Nyman's music has reached its largest audience by way of his film scores. Nyman has been researching the period of extraordinary creativity which followed the Revolution and lasted throughout most of the 1920s. Key to this period was Dziga Vertov's extraordinary film Man With a Movie Camera which documents the full spectrum of 1929 Soviet urban life with dazzling inventiveness. It was Vertov's exuberant montage and energetic lyricism which inspired Nyman to create his extraordinary score.
- Remastered and restored
- Fully uncompressed PCM stereo audio
USSR | 1929 | black and white | silent with music score | 68 minutes | DVD5 | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD