WHEN : 4th July, 6:00pm
WHERE : Institute of Modern Art
Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov is celebrated for his dizzingly experimental documentary Man with a Movie Camera (1929). Described as a ‘whirligig visual ruckus’, this feature-length film uses camera trickery and audacious editing to describe everyday life in modern, revolutionary-period Russia. However, 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 clear propaganda: a vulgar attack on the Church 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 by Shostakovich and Timofeev is combined with the sounds and rhythms of industry. With its cacophony of static, toot-tooting, chug-chugging, and ding-a-linging, Enthusiasm prefigures music concrete, and, in finding musicality in industrial noise, it anticipates John Cage by decades. Vertov placed great emphasis on volume and insisted that the soundtrack be intolerably loud, while blocking exits to prevent his 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. A joint project with OtherFilm.