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«Hurricanes of facts. And individual little factiets. Against film-sorcery. Against film-mystification. For the genuine cinematification of the ...»

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60 DZIGA VERTOV: ARTICLES, ADDRESSES

Hurricanes of facts.

And individual little factiets.

Against film-sorcery.

Against film-mystification.

For the genuine cinematification of the worker-peasant

USSR.

1926

Kino-Eye

I

A Drawingin the Journal Lapot ’

A poster. Showing little flowers. Telegraph poles. Petals. Lime

birds. A sickle. An operatic, cur!y-headed peasant with a sheaf of

rye is theatrically shaking the hand of a sugary worker, shouldering a hammer and with a roll of calico under his arm. The sun is rising.

Beneath is written: “The Union of Town and Country.” It’s a poster meant for the countryside. Two peasants stand

before it:

“Come and see what union is like, Uncle ban. There. But what’s it like for us? They’ve brought two plows, and newspapers... and that’s it...

.I’ “Be quiet and use your head! Think that’s a real union? Those are actors playing in a theater.” This drawing in Lapot‘reminds me of the peasants’ attitude toward the depictions on the painted agit-trains of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (1919-1921).

Horse-“Actors” The peasants called not only the drawings of Cossacks daubed on the walls of the train cars “actors” but also the horses depicted there, simply because they were incorrectlyshod in the drawing.

The more remote the place, the less the peasants grasped the general, urgent, agitationalmeaning of the drawings. They’d care- fully look over each drawing, each figure individually. They’d answer 61 KINO-EYE

my questions concerning whether or not they liked the drawings:

“We don‘t know, we’re ignorant and uneducated folk.” That did not prevent the peasants from talking and laughing among themselves, however, and laughing unequivocally at the “actor”-horses.

A Film Showing in the Country 1920.

I’m in charge of a cinema-train car. We’re showing films at a remote station.

There’s a film-drama on the screen. The Whites and the Reds.

The Whites drink, dance, kiss half-naked women; during the inter- ludes they shoot Red prisoners. The Reds underground. The Reds at the front. The Reds fighting. The Reds win and put all the drunken Whites and their women in prison.

The content’sgood, but why should anyone want to show filmdramas based on the same old cliche used five years ago?

The viewers-illiterate and uneducated peasants-don’t read the titles. They can’t grasp the plot. They examine individual details, like the drawings on the decorated train.

Coolness and distrust.

These still unspoiled viewers don’t understand artificialtheatricality. A “lady” remains a lady to them, no matter what “peasant clothing” you show her in. These viewers are seeing the film screen for the first or second time; they still don’t understand the taste of film-moonshine; and when, after the sugary actors of a film-drama.

real peasants appear on the screen, they all perk up and stare at the screen.

A real tractor, which these viewers know of only from hearsay, has plowed over a few acres in a matter of minutes, before their very eyes. Conversations, shouts, questions. There’s no question of actors. On the screen are their own kind, real people. There isn’t a single false, theatrical movement to unmask the screen, to shake the peasants’ confidence.

This sharp division between the perception of film-drama and newsreel has been noted every place where film has been shown for the first, second, or third time-every place where the poison had not yet penetrated. where the addiction to the toxic sweetness of artistic drama and its kisses, sighs, and murders had not yet set in.

62 DZlGA VERTOV: ARTICLES, ADDRESSES “Pefrushka “ or Life It was at the time when only the outlines of the kino-eye movement were visible, when we had to decide whether to keep in step with artistic cinematography and with the whole fraternity of directors who produce film-vodka-a legal and profitablebusiness-or declare war on artistic cinema and begin to build cinema anew.

“Is it to be Petrushka or life?” we asked the viewers.

“Petrushka,” answered the hopelessly infected. “We already know life-we don’t need life. Keep life, boring life, from us.” “Life,” answered those viewers who were not hopelessly irifected. or free of infection. “We don’t know life. We have not seen life, We know our country village and the ten versts around it. Show us life.”

–  –  –

What are our film directors trytng to prove when, in imitation of foreign models, they stick red labels on their products? They’re not trymg to prove anything and they can’t. They’re working on the poisoned viewer, peddlinga poisoned product; and so that it won’t remind us of a tsarist product they give it a revolutionary look and scent and pin a red banner on the appropriate spot.

And so the kinoks. wanting no part of this dirty business of pinning banners where they don’t belong, have released (following work on nineteen Kinopravdas)a major experiment-the first part of Kino-eye. which, for all its faults, intended to (and actually did) block the artdrama’s path of development and oriented at least part of the audience in the other direction.





–  –  –

Stupefaction and suggestion-the artdrama’s basic means of influence-relate to that of a religionand enable it for a time to maintain a man in an excited unconscious state. We are familiar with examples of direct suggestion (hypnosis), with examples of sexual suggestion, when a woman in exciting her husband or lover can suggest any thoughts or acts to him.

Musical, theatrical, and filmtheatricalrepresentations act, above all, on the viewer’s or listener’s subconscious, completely circumventing his protestingconsciousness.

66 DZlGA VERTOV: ARTICLES. ADDRESSES

–  –  –

111 The Basis of Kino-Eye The establishmentof a visual (kino-eye) and auditory (radio-ear) class bond between the proletariats of all nations and lands on a platform of the communist decoding of world relations.

The decoding of life as it is.

Influence of facts upon workers' consciousness.

Influence of facts, not acting, dance, or verse.

Relegationof so-called art-to the periphery of consciousness.

Placing of society's economic structure at the center of attention.

Instead of sunogates for life (theatrical presentations, film-drama, etc.) carefully selected, recorded, and organized facts (major or minor) from the lives of the workers themselves as well as from those of their class enemies.

–  –  –

electric narcotic of the movie theaters, the more or less starving proletariat, the jobless, unclenched its iron fist and unwittingly submitted to the corrupting influence of the masters' cinema. The theater is expensive and seats are few. And so the masters force the camera to disseminate theatrical productionsthat show us how the bourgeoisie love, how they suffer, how they "care for" their workers, and how these higher beings, the aristocracy, differ from lower ones (workers, peasants, etc.).

In prerevolutionary Russia the masters' cinema played a precisely similar role. After the October Revolution the cinema was faced with the difficult task of adapting itself to the new life. Actors who had played tsarist cMl servants began to play workers; those who had played ladies of the court are now grimacing in Soviet styie. Few of us yet realize, however, that all this grimacing remains, in many respects, within the framework of bourgeois technique and theatrical 69 KINO-EYE form. We know many enemies of the contemporary theater who are at the same time passionate admirers of cinema in its present form.

Few people see clearly as yet that nontheahical cinema (with the exception of newsreel and some scientific films) does not exist.

Every theatrical presentation, every motion picture is constructed in exactly the same way: a playwright or scriptwriter, then a director or film director, then actors, rehearsals, sets, and the presentation to the public. The essential thing in theater is acting, and so every motion picture constructed upon a scenario and acting is a theatrical presentation, and that is why there are no differences between the productions by directors of different nuances.

All of this, both in whole and in part, applies to theater regardless of its trend and direction, regardless of its relationship to theater as such. All of this lies outside the genuine purpose of the movie camera-the exploration of the phenomena of life.

Kinopravda has clearly shown that it is possible to work outside theater and in step with fhe revolution. Kino-eye is continuing fhe work, begun by kinopravda, of creating Red Soviet cinema.

–  –  –

This departure from authorship by one person or a group of persons to mass authorship will, in our view, accelerate the destruction of bourgeois, artistic cinema and its attributes: the poser-actor.

fairy-tale script, those costly toys-sets, and the director-high priest.

3. Very Simple Slogans

–  –  –

4. The Kinoks and Editing By editing, artistic cinema usually means the splicing together of individualfilmedscenesaccording to a scenario, worked out to a greater or lesser extent by the director.

72 DZIGA VERTOV: ARTICLES. ADDRESSES

–  –  –

constructed by editing, by organizing the footage of everyday life.

unlike artistic dramas that are constructed by the writer’s pen.

Does this mean that we work haphazardly, without thought or plan? Nothing of the kind.

If, however, we compare our preliminatyplanto the plan of a commission that sets out, let us say, to investigate the living quarters of the unemployed, then we must compare the scenario to a short story of that investigation witten beforethe investigation has taken place.

How do artistic cinema and the kinoks each proceed in the present case?

The kinoks organize a film-object on the basis of the factual filmdata of the investigation.

After polishing up a scenario, filmdirecforswill shoot some entertaining film-illustrations to go with it: a couple of kisses, a few tears, a murder, moonlit clouds rushing above, and a dove. At the end they write “Long live..,, !” and it all ends with “The Internationale.” Such, with minor changes, are all film-art-agitdramas.

When a picture ends with “The Internationale.” the censors usually pass it, but the viewers always feel a bit uneasy hearing the proletarian hymn in such a bourgeois context.

A scenario is the invention of an individual or a group of people; it is a short story that these people desire to transfer to the screen.

We do not consider this desire criminal, but presenting this sort of work as cinema’s main objective, ousting real film-objects with these lime film short stories, and suppressing all the movie camera’s remarkable possibilities in worship of the god of art-drama-this we cannot understand and do not, of course, accept.

We have not come to cinema in order to feed fairy tales to the Nepmen and Nepwomen lounging in the loges of our first-class movie theaters.

We are not tearing down artistic cinema in order to soothe and amuse the consciousness of the working masses with new rattles.

We have come to serve a particular class, the workers and peasants not yet caught in the sweet web of art-dramas.

We have come to show the world as it is, and to explain to the worker the bourgeois structure of the world.

We want to bring clarity into the worker’s awareness of the phenomena concerning him and surrounding him. To give everyone working behind a plow or a machine the opportunity to see his a i A

–  –  –

brothers at work with him simultaneously in different parts of the world and to see all his enemies, the exploiters.

We are taking our first steps in cinema, and that is why we are called kinoks. Existing cinema, as a commercial affair, like cinema as a sphere of art, has nothing in common with our work.

Even in technique we only partially overlap with so-called artistic cinema, since the goals we have set for ourselves require a different technical approach.

We have absolutely no need of huge studios or massive sets, just as we have no need for "mighty" film directors, "great" actors, and "amazing," photogenic women.

On the other hand, we must have:

–  –  –

It is, if you like, a part of our terrible heritage from the bourgeois system and one that our revolution has not yet had the time or the opportunity to sweep away.

Along with the montage of themes (their coordination)and of each theme individually, we edited individual moments (the attack on the camp, the call for help, etc.).

1 can point to the dancing of the drunken peasant women in the first section of Kinoglaz as an example of a montage moment not limited by time or space.

They were filmed at different times, in different villages, and edited together into a single whole.

The beer house and the market. actually all the rest... were also done through montage.

The raising of the flag on the day the camp opened can serve as a model of a montage instant limitedin time and space.

Here. for a length of fifty feet, fifty-three moments that have been spliced together go by. Despite the very rapid change of subjects on the screen (one-fourth of a second is the maximum length of time an individual subject is present on the screen), this fragment can be viewed easily and does not tire one's vision (as verified by the worker-viewer).

–  –  –

This kind of approach to the first part is not coincidental; it was dictated partly by our intention to provide a broad exploration and, on the basis of that exploration, to penetrate deeper into life in the subsequent parts. Such an approach was also partly necessary since more time, artificial lighting, and a lot of animation filming were needed in order to develop completely some of the themes of Kinoglaz.

The expenditure of time meant a greater expenditure of money.



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