TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT May 1978

“Konstruktivizm” and “Kinematografiya”

ALEXEI GAN (1893–1939/40), a pioneer polemicist and practitioner in the Russian cultural vanguard of the 1920s who entered every artistic arena, was involved with architecture as a member of OSA (the Union of Contemporary Architecture founded in 1925 by proponents of the exclusively functional and constructive in building), art director of its journal, SA (Sovremennaya arkhitektura) and organizer of the First Exhibition of Modern Architecture, Moscow, 1927. The inherent properties of architecture—its immediate and inescapable impact on man and his milieu, its latent capacity for social and environmental transformation, its integration of all the arts and industry, its responsiveness to science, esthetics and technology—often accord it the position of acme in ad hoc hierarchies of Constructivist potentiality. Ironically, however, Gan himself, whose real authority rests on the authorship of the seminal Constructivist reference work Konstruktivizm (1922), suggests otherwise, and also cites cinema in a number of subsequent writings, especially in Kinofot and Da zdravstvuet demonstratsiya byta!.

This was not to be a cinema of fiction. Gan dismissed the very existence of fiction in his “Bor’ba za massovoe deistvo” (1922)1 as a product of subjectivist thinking, its “contemplative sorcery” and “fantastic facets” being out of place in the materialist world that was programmed to “the course of the current moment” for “conscious participation” in an era transitional from the reactionary and speculative to the active and actual. On the theatrical front, living newspapers and dramatized meetings would replace romantic entanglements. Nor was cinema to waver between artistic, enacted dramas of “life” and the newsreel. In Gan’s opinion, true re-creations of the real, “mobilizing all the magic forces of idealistic art,” included Eisenstein’s October, Pudovkin’s End of St. Petersburg and Barnet’s Moscow in October. As Gan saw it, the drama of the era already objectively existed for the camera lens. The real could not be conveyed by the newsreel, which simply joined separate events into one film, more or less successfully united by subtitles. Since all episodic fragments were organically linked to the roots of existence, film could and should reveal their internal essence by relating them to other scenes. This “absolutely new way,” “kinematografiya,“ had nothing to do with fiction but everything to do with fabrication, for the visual organization of the social and ideological framework of life demanded as much artifice as the proper exploitation of the optical and mechanical equipment itself demanded. Constructivism could beget cinema which “showed the cultural advantages of the representative qualities” of “kinematografiya”—and Konstruktivizm could be “kinematografiya,” not only fulfilling the Constructivist conditions but also actually registering the very objective and ideological movement of scientific communism—the “tectonics” which had permitted the actualization of Constructivism.

Gan was also a graphic designer, printing his own books, contributing to the First Polemical Exhibition of Revolutionary Art, Moscow, 1924, the First Film Posters Exhibition, Moscow, 1925, and the First Exhibition of Graphic Art, Moscow, 1927. Alexander Rodchenko was equally well known in this field, working on Vertov’s films and Gan’s film journal Kinofot, for which his wife, Varvara Stepanova, provided a number of illustrations—Charlie Chaplin, man as propeller. In 1920, Rodchenko and Stepanova had signed the “Program of the Productivist Group,” the manifesto introducing Constructivism as “Tektonika,” Construction and “faktura.”

In 1922 Alexei Gan published his Konstruktivizm,2 the major codification of Constructivism as both a method of art history and a method of artwork, and the agitational book with which the material-intellectual workers of the Age of Industry began the struggle with the supporters of traditional art. The guiding system of historical analysis, dialectical materialism, naturally pertained to the history of art, since this “product of human activity” was simply another component of the objective environment, the social-political structure, generated and conditioned by the economic/technical base. The emerging system of scientific communism suggested “artistic” expression through intellectual-material/ideological-formal disciplines based on the industrial principles of “texture as a form of supply [i.e. a form of pictorial display for visual perception] and constructional laws as forms of surface resolution,” and the “third principle and first discipline, tectonics”—the ideological context of working-class materialism, the reconstruction of the whole social organism in transition from capitalism to communism.

During the successive “primeval, authoritarian and individualistic epochs,” “cultures of power and spirit had defined art as ‘beautiful’ and ‘imperishable,’” and art had visually materialized religion and philosophy on behalf of the ruling class until “it finally crashed against the mechanical age.” The Suprematists, abstractionists and non-ideaists, repelling outworn traditions of art with purely formal research,3 had refused to serve the tastes of the dominant but dying bourgeoisie. However, the “umbilical connection to the old believers” had not been severed because only revolution could supply the necessary social context, the “tectonics” allowing “artists to interpret socially and express themselves thematically in the products of their craft.” “Tectonics” thus became the determinant component for Constructivist methods of work, making “laboratory work in texture and construction within the narrow framework of painting, sculpture and senseless architecture unconnected with the reconstruction of the entire social organism” an absurd enterprise. The new “tectonics” would permit the emergence of the means (color, line, plane, volume and action) and the makers (the master of color and line, the combiner of spatio-volumetrical solids, the organizer of mass action) from the “dead end of traditional arts’ estheticizing professionalism” into activity as the cultural concomitant to overall communist construction.

Rodchenko’s abstract analyses of geometric forms on a dynamic axis or in space and of the nonrepresentational use of the line for motion, passing, collision and cut grew into a general system of object-making based on the functional utilization of matter to reach a predetermined goal. He applied his two-dimensional line to poster production and realized his spatial concepts within the cinematic space of Vertov’s newsreels, designing subtitles subordinate to the needs of film technique and agitation, coining slogans to be read easily, quickly and with the least expenditure of footage.4 He was partially responsible for the appearance of Kinofot, 1922–1923, an example of typography as an ideological-formal, socially reflective and responsive discipline which Gan assumed would replace the speculative and subjective—the individualistic—in art. Typography exploited the inherent potential of the materials and machines involved: the four-color layout, sans-serif type faces and uniform line weights sprang as much from the capacities of the printing press as from the primary nature of color, line and form. Contributors to Kinofot included Arvatov (“Agitkino”), Kuleshov (“Amerikanshchina,” “Iskusstvo, sovremennaya zhizn i kinematografiya,” “Kamernaya Kinematografiya,” “Montazh”), Mayakovsky (“Kino i Kino”), Vertov (“My,” “On iya,” “Kino-Pravda”). Issues were dedicated to Thomas Edison and Charlie Chaplin and featured continuous criticism of the state’s equivocal support of cinema. Rodchenko and Stepanova provided most of the visual material.

Alexei Gan was president and editor-in-chief. The first issue (August 1922) printed Dziga Vertov’s manifesto “My,” declaring the principles he attempted to demonstrate in the newsreel Kino-Pravda, the film which convinced Gan that “kinematografiya” could be the most complete actualization of Constructivist method, a theory he expounded in Da zdravstvuet demonstratsiya byta!, 1923.5

“My”6 attempted to rescue “art” from the muddy mixture of colors, the so-called synthesis of subjectivist painting. Vertov particularized Konstruktivizm into “kinematografiya.” He postulated cinema as an art limited by the laws of the movement of objects in space (reality with three dimensions, plus time) with an artistic aim in accord with the properties of the material and the internal rhythm of each object. The whole was to be organized on the principles of the “montage” of geometric extracts of shifting movement capturing changes in representation, and “intervals,” the material elements of the art of movement (i.e. the transition from one movement to another, and not the movement itself). “Phrases” with a rise, climax and fall were to be composed of “intervals,” and these were the compositional elements of the aggregate production, which Vertov intended to reveal the spirit of the machine, the reality of the worker in the factory, of the peasant in the tractor, of the engineer in the locomotive, and, thereby, create industry’s answer to art rendered anachronistic by the inevitable movement of history.

It is drawing in motion. It is a sketch in motion . . . the theory of relativity on the screen. . . . We welcome the dynamic geometry of the running dot, line, surface, volume. . . .7

This system imposed “kinematographic” organization on the apparently erratic, but inherently logical, movement of objects in space, to realize the impractical in life, just as dialectical materialism conveyed the law of the movement of objects in history. Both filtered the flux of events, moving from the concrete (reality) to the abstract (theorizing reality) back to the concrete (reality explained by the abstract), in a “frame” permuted to integrate, rather than separate, image and actuality—just as industrial process transformed raw material into plausible product.

In Konstruktivizm, Gan had contended that the Age of Industry would generate new phenomena of artistic labor: painting could not compete with photography, theater would yield to outbursts of “mass action,” sculpture would give way to the spatial solution of the object. In the first issue of Kinofot he editorialized on “Kinematograf i kinematografiya,”8 suggesting that the latter could absorb even these emergent forms of Constructivism. Although its manifestations changed, the historical role of art remained: motivating, explaining, orienting and organizing the senses, taste and movement. This had been the domain of the “handmade art of painting,” and its role had been assumed by cinema in the technical system of contemporary society, composed of material, objective parts. Furthermore, the new social system distinguished between types of cinema: “kinematograf” as living photography, the technical apparatus “for the mass production of theatrical art,” the cinema representing the private ownership and exploitation of the past; versus “kinematografiya,” an objective labor apparatus of social technique, an organ “which was an extension of the society of the proletarian state.”

After seeing the first 16 episodes of Kino-Pravda, Gan elaborated this argument in Da zdravstvuet demonstratsiya byta!, dedicated to the-first anniversary of Vertov’s effort, “joyfully pointing out that Kino-Pravda objectively demonstrates the technical qualities of cinematography: directly registering the processes of social life, its dynamics, without the outside aid of the priests of archaic art.”9 Just as the mechanical age negated symbolic realistic painting and the professional stage as means of revealing the significance of social revolution, so their cinematic substitute must condemn the “acted” film as archaic art. Advocates of the latter needed “scenarios, directors and actors, they do not want to register concrete life, but to play in it creatively.”10 They gathered artistic and repertory commissions and made new cadres of old actors and cried in one voice, “We need artistic revolutionary scenarios,” while all about them the direct, dialectical unfolding of life saturated unprecedented everyday reality.11 The epoch of proletarian revolution could not be “re-created” by any “art,” “any genius,”12 and it would be a “lousy affectation” to handle scenes of the worker in the factory like those from an artistic cinema drama.13 Materialism dismissed men preoccupied with abstract questions of the spirit, and cinema must eliminate subjective narrowness, “the ruminations of pretertensual perceptions,”14 “the psychoanalytic tenderhearted maestros of art,”15 revealing instead “the cultural advantages of the representative qualities of Kinematografiya over the artistic scenic interventions of acting casts playing at life.”16 “Kinematografiya” must absorb life itself and prevent its sinking into eternity to be later “artistically selected by certain talents as ‘kycochki of zhizn’ . . . and simple mortals must cease to serve as merely the raw material for artistic productions, acting casts and directors.”17

Cinema was “to take a piece of life and technically transfer it to the screen,”18 because everyday life objectified dialectical materialism in the tireless toil of people blindly operating under the elemental forces of nature and economics, the motives of history.19 These motives could and must be mastered by human awareness, thereby resolving the revolutionary content, the conflict of material conditions with human desires and the inevitable class contradictions. And awareness distinguished the Soviet order, enabling it to conduct an active struggle with the old world, absorbing all citizens and transforming “habitual forms and consecrated traditions”—changes best wrought by an immediate perception of everyday reality, the living acts of revolution, rather than by the prolonged means of systematic education.20

This perception predicated scientific communism, the “tectonics” permitting the actualization of Constructivism:

OUR REVOLUTION, as a rich mass movement, a rapid eruption of events, of appearances and disappearances, COULD ONLY BE REVEALED BY THE MACHINE, THE CAMERA.

IT REQUIRES A SPECIAL MEANS OF EXPRESSION to reveal the world of human activity, its concrete content, to the uneducated, to the latecomer.

CINEMA, AS A PRODUCT OF THE INDUSTRIAL AGE, AND KINEMATOGRAFIYA, AS A MEANS OF ITS EXPRESSION, ARE THE ONLY ELEMENTS OF PRODUCTION CAPABLE OF ORGANIZING CONSCIOUSNESS, OF ORIENTING MAN TO THE PRESENT DAY . . . Cinema must capture life.

KINEMATOGRAFIYA MUST ORGANIZE LIFE.21

Our life must be inserted in the frame, gathered in drops and THROUGH MONTAGE MAKE A FILM.22

For,

Cinema opens the eyes of blind moles: it is the world and what happens in it.

In the air, over the square . . .

In 150 or 200 metres of film we can see 100 or 120 different points of the world which merit the attention of our eyes . . .

ONLY THE SUPREME TECHNIQUE OF MONTAGE CAN COMPRESS THE HUGE QUANTITY OF MOMENTARY, VISUAL EVENTS INTO THE NARROW LIMITS OF THE FILM STRIP.23

Only kinematografiya can capture this [reality] . . . and through montage serve the screen of the mass auditorium. CINEMA, FOR THE PRESENT, IS THE ONLY AND MOST VALUABLE REPRESENTATIVE MEANS IN THE HANDS OF THE PROLETARIAT, which they must use in order to establish factual and ideal bonds of labor going to storm capital.24

Negating fiction but affirming fabrication, “kinematografiya” was not to register reality at random, but rather to construct, by the decomposition and recomposition of reality, the new compass and intaglio of ideology and industry.

IT IS NECESSARY, OF COURSE, TO KNOW HOW TO APPROACH NATURE LITERATELY, I.E. FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE MOST ACTIVELY VITAL PROGRESSIVE CLASS, consciously seizing all marks of its conduct, but not emotionally symbolizing reality . . .

THIS IS NOT THE DRY LOGIC OF EVENTS, NOR FORMAL, NAKED ATTRIBUTES . . . The literate members of the young proletarian society have sufficiently mastered camera filming, they know how to use light, TO CONSTRUCT FILMS BASED ON REAL NATURE, AND THROUGH MONTAGE TRANSFER TO THE SCREEN THE MAXIMUM TRUTHS OF THE FACTS OF REALITY . . .25

On this front, Alexei Gan proclaimed “Kino-Pravda is the child of Proletarian culture, it is maintaining a bloodless cinema blockade.”26 Vertov’s second “kinokhronika” series,27 commissioned by Goskino, appeared biweekly in 1922 and thrice annually in 1923, 1924 and 1925, as the common newsreel format yielded “to the conscious attempt at the creation of a new cinema form.”28 The “kinoki,” Vertov, his wife and editor, Svilova, and his brother and cameraman, Mikhail Kaufman, compiled the first four issues from material shot on the order of various state organs and trusts, for Goskino. The content was so disparate (The trial of the SR’s, the motor run from Moscow to Sevastopol, the opening of the Kashirsky dam, the surrender of religious treasures, the dispatch of a grain barge to a famine area, a Kavkaz spa, a Moscow fire) that montage could only act as a physical link between scenes, preventing any overall thematic plan. “Nature was not activated,” claimed Gan.29

Kino-Pravda No. 5 marked the equation of Konstruktivizm and “kinematografiya.” The subjects—the flight of the “Red Derby,” a portrait of the partisan Yakovenko, the building and dismantling of a car—were united by shots of a man reading a newspaper, a metaphor for Kino-Pravda itself as a printed survey of events. The subtitles either cut into each sequence or were displaced entirely when objects (a car, its motor, its gas and air-speed indicators) were used in a self-explanatory manner. Both techniques obviated the delay of the extended interval—the subtitle frame between shots—and permitted material elements to serve as living guides rather than as mere background for human activity. Kino-Pravda No. 6 showed a broader range of daily events: the trial of the SR’s, an invasion of tanks at the front, methods of artificial irrigation, a motorcycle race. Gan states the lack of “organic” links was countered by the existence of a plan of “logical contrasts,” saturating scenes of human activity with material objects: a revolver, tanks, motorcycles. Kino-Pravda No. 7 saw more, ranging through Moscow, Siberia, Kavkaz, Afganistan and Persia, from labor processes to the marketplace, and introducing mechanized methods of grain production (sowing, threshing, harvesting) and stone quarrying (cutting, squaring, transport), plus the excavation of mica, showing enemy tanks put to peaceful use. And the subtitles were actually photographed from newspaper items dealing with events on the screen.

Gan called Kino-Pravda No. 10 “a bold and abrupt development in the kinokhronika”:

It was not made from separate, accidental themes, but from events taken from one particular day, all linked by a fast tempo and subtitles reflecting that day. The individual episodes did not disturb the general momentum of a reel unfurling one special day.30

Comrade Vertov and his cameramen have chosen the correct path, dedicated to capturing life, organizing it and showing it on the screen. An international holiday of the unions of youth, the assembly of automobiles and the restoration of factories—in short: people, machines and material surroundings—all conforming to the strictures of kinematografiya without reference to the structures of cinema aesthetics. American montage is the means of construction applied to the frame, the sequence, the total plan . . .

All ten issues have had subtitles.

And Vertov has overcome the banal method of the horizontal text. Obviously the screen requires that one construct words differently. Now it would be a shame to print in the old fashion.31

Having explored a single day, Vertov then expanded a single event within a day, the Fifth Anniversary of the Revolution as celebrated in different locations—the major manifestation in Red Square, a worker-peasant demonstration in a village, a smaller meeting in a Workers’ House, a “party for three generations“ (Pioneers join the Komsomol, Komsomol members join the Party, all surround an “October child“ representing the coming generation) and a meeting of Far Eastern and Moscow workers with Soviet leaders.

Gan hailed Kino-Pravda No. 13 as the start of a new era in the construction of Soviet cinema. Demonstrating cinematic simultaneity and the interpenetration of different times and places, Vertov extended the day of the Fifth Anniversary of the Revolution into five years of revolution. He analyzed the whole, and each section within the whole, spatially and temporally, expanding the perception of the human eye that was physically limited to a single time-space framework. “TODAY” opens with Lenin’s speech in Red Square, dissolves into airborne shots of cities, factories, fields and villages, and returns to Lenin, Kalinin, Radek, Kamenev and Trotsky on the Red Square rostrum. “YESTERDAY” describes five years of struggle, famine, civil war, the rear, the front, victory. “TOMORROW” looks ahead through the first achievements of industry: radio stations, dams, electric tractors, the slogan “ONLY WORK CAN HEAL OUR WOUNDS.” After its release Gan described Kino-Pravda No. 13 in Kinofot in a text articulated with drawings of Rodchenko’s “subtitles”:

It is hard to erase “art“ from the screen.

The so-called esthetic stance only disfigures film . . .

Vertov’s work is in the proper spirit . . .

Number 13 is especially successful. Even the subtitles by

the Constructivist, Rodchenko, are rendered as objects.

For example:

LENIN

On all the screen.

A screenal word

Cinema speaking in kinematografic language.

The subtitles are an electric fuse, a conductor illuminating

reality on the screen.

And we see all in focus, what has happened, what is

happening, in the streets, the squares, the windows, on posters.

And we listen as they

CALL

ALL, ALL, ALL

TO THE INTERNATIONAL

Proletarian

OCTOBER

And we see airplanes, and then we see the earth from airplanes, but the earth flees, and we see streets, houses .. and then the words of Comrade Trotsky WE EXIST, BUT THEY DO NOT RECOGNIZE US, WE WILL FIGHT and we fought to the death and we shall hide nothing. Coffins in Astrakhan, shovels bury the bodies of our fallen heroes at Kronshtadt, the standard is lowered at Minsk. We remove our hats.
Muscovites stand on the banks of the Moskva river.
People stream into Red Square.
A portrait of the worker, Barbolin, killed in 1917.

A poster flies by
TO THE GLORY OF CHAMPIONS
Then a quiet montage: our conquest, our victory, our firm alignment to the machine.32

Subsequent issues continued but did not equal this thematic development. No. 14 was dedicated to international class war, Capital’s opposition to the American and West European proletariat, the USSR, Profintern and the Third International; No. 14 also revealed the economic strides of the USSR. No. 15 treated “Vesennyaya Moskva,” “Bezprizorn’ie” and “Mai s Toboi.”

In May, 1923, Gan concluded that although Kino-Pravda had achieved significant results in laboratory work, montage and the use of subtitles,33 and had displayed a more “active” use of material, deliberately emphasizing the need for the construction of a new life cinema form,34 it had failed to fulfill its potential. In the end it was only a proletarian Pathé, approaching only the ceremonial, formal discharge of proletarian life—leaders on the rostrum, workers’ processions, parading ranks of the Red Army, the factory,35 only partially capturing the “truth.” The negative attitude of the subjects prevented the merging of the camera and its operator with life: some refused to be filmed, others froze before the lens.36 Such external factors explain the inclusion of “acted” material in Kino-Pravda No. 8, which should have witnessed the conclusion of the trial of the SR’s that was closely followed in earlier episodes. Instead, a sequence shows citizens grabbing at newspapers for sale in the street; a copy headlining the verdict (guilty) is held up to the camera; Vertov and Kaufman, seated in the back of a car, excitedly buy a paper from a vendor running alongside. Vertov had not committed artistic heresy. The government had barred his crew from court at the crucial moment, and in a Kinofot article Vertov alludes to this as part of a more profound question:

Daily he serves the All Russian Foto Kino Department. . . . He accepts the order to do newsreels. He is also obliged to cover political events. I remember his anger and despair when he was forbidden to film the verdict in the Trial of the SR’s. In spite of much trouble and a night-long vigil, I am expelled from the court into the street. Thus I gave the verdict from the point of view of the street. Political filming is absurd. It is simultaneously demanded and forbidden. This means: you must film, but we will oppose the filming. You will try and film us in corridors and streets and we will brush you away with the hand, answer back and turn our backs on the spy with the movie camera.37

Nevertheless, Gan contended that the “kinoki” must make a more concerted effort to go beyond the parades and marches to penetrate the “thickets of life,“ “to apprehend the fleeting facts comprising the whole,38 filming

everything that fills the course of the day from morning awakening, through the daily whirlpool of work and squabbles, through the evening hours of free rest, to late night . . .39

—catching people in concrete conditions at their dinner basins, in their cots and homes.40 The camera could enter a Peoples’ Court and listen to the plaintiff, defendant and witnesses; it could sit for a few hours with a Commissar on night duty in his kitchen.41 It should reveal citizens introducing innovations into their personal situations, objects manifesting the appearance of the new order.42

After all, the “personages” of the new life were “the tram drivers, machinists, bookkeepers, Red Army men, teachers, telephone operators . . .,”43 for social categories were based on production content and only the actual production experience could reshape and liberate the social consciousness; only contact, or the conflict of the human will with the economic base, revealed this transition in human behavior. Reality was at the Komsomol Wedding in Youthful Truth, the groom was a “natural” not a “clown,”44 and experiments in plants and factories had proved that men could be accustomed to the presence of the camera. Only when the camera could convey the day-to-day life which was the objectification of the dialectic could it participate in the unfolding of the new life, and fulfill its cultural, historic role as a production process.45

Whatever Gan’s influence may have been, Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, 1929, did actually trace the entire course of a day, “from morning awakening” to “free rest” and “late night”—“The Waking Woman,” “The Day and Work Begin,” “The Day’s Work,” “Work Stops-Leisure Begins”—just as it traced the course of the camera, the cameraman and editor in the registration of that day. It has been described as conveying in parallel the ideological determinations of social relations and of cinematic forms.” It has also been called a film that is not really about anything, a film that says nothing about what it shows.47

Jennifer Ollie

—————————

NOTES

1. A. Gan, “Borba za massovoe deistvo,” O teatre, sbornik statei, Tver, 1922.

2. A. Gan, Konstruktivizm, Tver, 1922.

3. For example, between 1910 and 1920, Larionov’s “Rayonist Manifesto” asserted that painting should develop only according to the formal means by which it was created: Malevich’s Suprematism. nonobjective. self-referential forms, suggested articulation on the basis of weight, speed and the direction of movement, Tatlin worked with real materials in real space, studying the interaction of their specific properties; Rodchenko analyzed the basics of composition on a theoretical level—spatial constructs, the line, the colors of red, yellow and blue.

4. N. Abramov, Dziga Vertov, Moscow, 1962, p. 29.

5. A. Gan, Da zdraystvuet demonstratsiya byta!, Moscow, 1923.

6. D. Vertov, “My,” Kinotot, No. 1 (August 25–31, 1922), pp. 11–12.

7. Vertov, “My,” p. 12. It is difficult to say precisely what role the Revolution played in the evolution of Vertov’s cinematic thought. In a speech of 1935 (Stenogramma 32. A. Gan,_ “Kino-Pravda, trinadtsatyi opyt,” Kinofot, No. 5 (December 10, 1922), pp. 6–7.

8. A. Gan, “Kinematograf i kinematografiya,” Kinofot, No. 1 (August 25–31, 1922), p. 1.

9. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 1.

10. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 1.

11. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 2.

12. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 15.

13. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 14.

14. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 12.

15. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 5.

16. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 6.

17. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 13.

18. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 4.

19. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 3.

20. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 1.

21. A. Gan, “Kino-Pravda 10,” Kinofot, No. 4 (October 5–12, 1922), pp. 3–4.

22. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 15.

23. “Kino-Pravda,” Kinofot, No. 2 (September 8–15, 1922), p. 11.

24. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 4.

25. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 1.

26. Gan. “Kino-Pravda 10,” p. 4.

27. Vertov was responsible for issues 10 to 38 of Kinonedelya, a weekly newsreel commissioned by the Moscow Kino Committee in 1918. Forty-three numbers appeared between June 1, 1918, and June 27, 1919.

28. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 7.

29. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 7.

30. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 8.

31. Gan, “Kino-Pravda 10,” pp. 3–4.

32. A. Gan, “Kino-Pravda, trinadtsatyi opyt,” Kinofot, No. 5 (December 10, 1922), pp. 6–7.

33. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 9.

34. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 8.

35. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 4.

36. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 5.

37. D. Vertov. “On i ya,” Kinotot, No. 2 (September 8–15, 1922), p. 9. (The SR, Socialist Revolutionary. Party was a rival socialist organization. After the revolution some members made an uneasy compromise with the Bolsheviks while others resorted to anti-Bolshevik terrorism. In February 1922, 47 SR’s were arrested and tried for conspiring against Soviet power, a move which definitively ended any residual toleration of political minorities).

38. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 6.

39. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 4.

40. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 6.

41. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 15.

42. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 14.

43. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 14.

44. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 15.

45. Gan, Da zdraystvuet, p. 15.

46. For a detailed analysis of this position see S. Crofts and O. Rose, “An Essay Toward Man with a Movie Camera,” Screen, No. 1 (Spring 1977), pp. 9–58.

47. D. Vaughan. “The Man with a Movie Camera,” in Lewis Jacobs’ The Documentary Tradition, New York, 1971, pp. 53–59.

A note to the reproductions, Kino-Pravda, The Thirteenth Experiment (Kinofot, No. 5, December 10 1922). Although the article is signed by Alexei Gan, there is every indication that Rodchenko did the drawings illustrating the graphics he had done for the film. They manifest the stylistic qualities discernible both in his advertising posters and in elements of this journal. for which he provided covers, photographs, montages and some layout._

A note to quotes within the article: I have stressed certain quotes—the original Russian is not necessarily capitalized. Generally the quoted descriptions of film content are taken from accounts of the time.

Notes on the Kinopravda Stills

Alexei Gan used stills from the early numbers of Kinopravda in both Kinofot, 1922–1923, and Da zdraystvuet demonstratsiya byta!, 1923, to illustrate the content of “kinematografiya,” a technical “extension of the society of the Proletarian State” which was “to take a piece of life and mechanically transfer it to the screen.” Although they demonstrate that for Gan “the drama of the era objectively existed for the camera lens” and “could not be re-created by any art,” they also support his argument that the traditional newsreel. disparate events linked by subtitles into one film, could not convey the real, i.e. the dialectic inherent in life. Cinematic juxtaposition of scenes could and should reveal the internal essence organically uniting episodic fragments. Film technique permitted the visual organization of the social and ideological framework of life while the potential of film equipment demanded maximum exploitation. Kinopravda No. 13 had revealed to Gan the possibilities of “kinematografiya,” extending the day of the fifth anniversary of the Revolution into five years of Revolution. spatially and temporally analyzing the whole and each section within the whole in a three-part construction—Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, The Stills from Kinopravda No. 21 represent the ultimate development of this method within the newsreel context using the same tripartate composition to explore the revolutionary years as they relate to the leader, Lenin. In the Leninist Kinopravda (No. 21) issued on January 21. 1925, “On the Anniversary of the Death of Lenin. January 21, 1924,” Part 1 revolves around 12 shots of Lenin intercut with historical events involving Lenin as leader and is divided into sequences 1918, 1919,1920, 1921; Part 2, The Iron Leader is III, 1922–1923, combines a Prologue. his illness and recovery in 1923, with The Lying in State, his funeral in 1924; Part 3, Lenin is No More, But His Strength is With Us incorporates shots from Parts 1 and 2, memories for future inspiration.

All sequence descriptions have been verified as far as is possible from viewings, accounts written at the time and Yu. Polyakov and S. Drobashenko (ed). Sovetskaya kinokhronika 1918–1925 (Moscow, 1965).