Man with a Movie Camera (Russian: Человек с кино-аппаратом, romanized: Chelovek s kino-apparatom) is an experimental 1929 Soviet silent documentary film, directed by Dziga Vertov and edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova.
Vertov’s feature film, produced by the film studio VUFKU, presents urban life in the Soviet cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa. It has no actors. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. To the extent that it can be said to have “characters”, they are the cameramen of the title, the film editor, and the modern Soviet Union they discover and present in the film.
Man with a Movie Camera is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invented, employed or developed, such as multiple exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, match cuts, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, reversed footage, stop motion animations and self-reflexive visuals (at one point it features a split-screen tracking shot; the sides have opposite Dutch angles).
Man with a Movie Camera was largely dismissed upon its initial release; the work’s quick-cut editing, self-reflexivity, and emphasis on form over content were all subjects of criticism. In the British Film Institute’s 2012 Sight & Sound poll, however, film critics voted it the eighth greatest film ever made, and the work was later named the best documentary of all time in the same magazine.