Part of Series
|Part of||OtherFilm / IMA|
|Where||Institute of Modern Art|
|Date||6pm, Thursday, 4 July 2013|
Soviet documentary maker Dziga Vertov is justly celebrated for his dizzingly experimental Man with a Movie Camera (1929). This feature-length film—which has been described as a ‘whirligig visual ruckus’—combines images of the heroic lives of everyday people at work and at play with audacious editing and camera trickery.Vertov is less known for his next film, his first sound film, Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (1931).Enthusiasm concerns the Don coal miners’ attempts to fulfill their Five-Year Plan quota in just four years. It is propagandist: a vulgar attack on religion (which is humiliated before a cacophony of factory whistles) and a pre-Greens ode to belching-smokestack-era industrialism. But what is fascinating is how the film carries Vertov’s formal experimentalism into the new realm of sound. Original music composed by Shostakovich and Timofeev is combined with the rhythms and sounds of Stalinist industry and synchronised with images regarding the Five-Year Plan and the bourgeois lifestyles it hoped to usurp. With its cacophony of toot-tooting, static, chug-chugging, and ding-a-linging, Enthusiasm
prefigures music concrete, and, in finding musicality in industrial noise, it anticipates John Cage by some thirty years. Vertov placed great emphasis on sound volume, and insisted on the soundtrack being being intolerably loud, while blocking the exits to prevent the audience escaping. Enthusiasm‘s complexity confounded Soviet audiences and Stalinist censors, who rigorously controlled its exportation at a time when questions of form had become as ideologically charged as those of content.Come hear this great film.