John MacKay

  • Left: Aleksei German. Right: Aleksei Guerman, Khrustalyov, My Car!, 1998, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 150 minutes.
    passages May 06, 2013

    Aleksei German (1938–2013)

    ALEKSEI GERMAN died on February 21 in his home city of Saint Petersburg at the age of seventy-four. Son of a famous Soviet writer whose work provided material for German’s films, and regarded by many as the greatest of contemporary Russian filmmakers, he completed only four solo features during his lifetime, all about Soviet history: Trial of the Road, a 1971 war drama (shelved until 1985) about a deserter to the Nazis who mysteriously surrenders to the Soviets; Twenty Days Without War (1976), about wartime life and love far from the front in Tashkent; My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1982; released

  • Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, 1929, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 68 minutes.


    On April 15, a comprehensive retrospective of the films of DZIGA VERTOV opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the pages that follow, film scholar JOHN MACKAY assesses the continuing impact of Soviet cinema’s—perhaps simply cinema’s greatest innovator of nonfiction film form.

    BEST KNOWN AS THE MAKER of the endlessly astonishing documentary Man with a Movie Camera (1929)—and also as the eponym and inspiration for a group of radical Left Bank filmmakers in the late 1960s headed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin—Dziga Vertov (1896–1954) is widely acknowledged to be