Dziga Vertov: man with a Movie Camera
First of all I have to say that I loved Vertov's film, Man with a Movie Camera and the soundtrack done by The Cinematic Orchestra. I felt that the film was amazingly modern considering how old it is and the equipment that was used to make it. In my opinion Vertov manage to represent his famous kino eye and show the world that there is an option to shoot films differently.
In the film the camera plays the main role and Vertov turns this machine into a living being that's pivotal in order to show people things that are completely invisible for the naked eye. The camera takes us everywhere, from the city to the mines, from the beach to the factory and from the sea to the top of bridges. Vertov's mission to put machines into the nucleus of film making is beautifully accomplished in this film. And still there is something amazingly human and uplifting about this peace of art. We are invited to a journey into people's lives and we can watch a city sleeping silently and then filling up with life slowly as the day starts. We are invited to watch and observe every aspect of the human experience from birth to death, from work to playing games and from marriage to divorce. Furthermore, all during these things Vertov using techniques that give a fantastically modern feel to the whole film.
Vertov also incorporated the making of the film into the whole movie. We are taken to the editing desk and then we are dragged into the celluloid to see what's on it. A fantastic journey between the story and the making of the story. Even though, as I have mentioned, Vertov's goal was to put the camera into the central role, I think that maybe unintendedly he created a hero out of the cameraman too. I felt this way especially in the scenes when the cameraman is walking with the camera on his shoulder and the crowd opens up for them, or when he climbs high places to shoot things from up above.
There's also a propagandistic aspect to the movie even though it's not őrevalent enough to become annoying. The life that it shows is mostly full with happy people enjoying life, work and pastime. Sadness hardly ever shows up in the film and the whole movie is filled with some kind of joyous gloriousness that sweeps away any kind of bad feelings. A portrayal of the early years of the communist Soviet Union that is very misleading in retrospect.
All in all, Vertov reaches his goal with this great film. He emphasises the heroic aspects of the camera and the ways we can see the world better through the lense than through our own eyes. The kino eye prevails.
Hukkle & Angelmakers
It was very interesting to see a film and a documentary about the same events that happened in Hungary between the two world wars. Hukkle and Angelmakers both explore the murders committed by housewives who killed more than 200 men. Hukkle works with fairly regular techniques to show the events whilst Angelmakers uses a documentaristic approach. Hukkle is played mostly by locals but professional actors play in it too, on the other hand Angelmakers works with interviews with locals, narration and historical facts in the end.
So we have two completely different films with two completely different approaches to the same story. I found it weird and funny but I felt that Hukkle was more true to the feeling of the whole story even though we didn't find out the exact facts while watching it. We didn't find out how many men were killed, who were the killers, who was the ring leader or what was the aftermath of the events. Still I felt that the melancholic undertone of the film and the way the camera always moved through things to get behind the events or places while we were watching them brought a sense of mistery but also truthfulness and sadness to the film. Since there are no written scripts in Hukkle that actors would recite, the whole story is told through pictures and those pictures are amazingly beautiful. The story slowly unfolds in front of our eyes to the rythm of a hiccup and it takes time for the audience to realise what's going on; but when you realise it the whole film becomes very sad, tense, misterious and exciting. Hukkle also gives a great insight into the village's life and into the grievances that followed the deaths. Hukkle doesn't want to judge or to have a moral, it just shows a gtrotesque artistic picture of the events that mirrors some kind of objectivity.
On the other hand Angelmaker is supposed to be a completely objective documentary about the husband killings. The makers go to one of the villages where the murders happened and interview people and tell the historic facts. Still I felt that even though all the aspects of a documentary were implemented in the film, it was quite subjective. The film shows a fairly positive picture of the women who killed their husbands and tries to spur some sympathy in the audience towards the killers by arguing that most of them were drunk, aggressive bastards who beat their wives on a regular basis. I'm not saying that these things are not true and that one cannot feel even a crumble of sympathy towards those women, but the almost complete lack of voices in the movie that would condemn their actions is quite weird from a film that shows itself as a documentary and uses all the filming and story-telling techniques of documentary films.
In sum, for me the biggest epiphany, seeing these two films, was the fact that a visual presentation of events can be very objective and true even if it is presented artistically, and that it can be very subjective and packed with hidden agendas even if it is presented in a documentaristic way.