Dziga Vertov’s experimental film ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (VUFKU 1929) portrays a day in the life of an unnamed Soviet city in 1928. Filming the activities of its inhabitants at work and play the cinematographer (and Vertov’s brother) Mikhail Kaufman also recorded wonderfully sympathetic candid portraits of some of them. Each image is my selection of a particular frame to capture an expression or movement. The screenshots are taken from the outstanding 2014 restoration of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ by the Eye Film Institute Netherlands and Lobster Films. The clarity of the images is extraordinary for a 93-year-old film enhancing Mikhail Kaufman’s remarkable photography.

Images courtesy of and copyright Eye Film Institute and Lobster Films

Original text and image selection copyright Richard Bossons 2022

Posted in Cinema, Constructivism, Dziga Vertov, Film studios, Man with a Movie Camera, Photography, silent film, Soviet film, Ukraine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MIKHAIL KAUFMAN: portraits


100th anniversary of the All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration

Film poster for Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s ‘Zvenigora’ (1928)

The All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Adminstration (Vse-Ukrains’ke Foto Kino Upravlinnia, ВУФКУ – Всеукраїнське фоtокіноуправління) was founded on the 13th March 1922 by the National Commissar of Education of the Ukrainian SSR. Lenin realised that a more accommodating approach to Ukrainian nationalism would better serve Russia’s long-term interests and the separate development of the Ukrainian film industry independent of Goskino (Госкино), the RSFSR State Committee for Cinematography, was an example of this.

VUFKU rapidly grew a reputation for much more adventurous commissioning than Goskino and its successor Sovkino, training, employing, and promoting mostly Ukrainian directors and cinematographers, and their films. Its main studio was in Odesa (still exists as a film centre and museum) with two small studios in Kyiv and Kharkiv, and a larger one in Yalta. After the 1927 earthquake in Yalta a large new studio complex was built in Kyiv and the administrative offices moved there in 1928.

VUFKU was effectively closed down by the Moscow authorities in 1930, forced to merge as ‘Ukrainfilm’ with Soyuzkino (Sovkino’s successor) after accusations of Nationalism, Formalism and other ‘unacceptable behaviour’ by the authorities in Moscow. In the 1930s during Stalin’s suppression of the Ukrainian national revival many of its leading figures were imprisoned or executed.

In less than nine years the studios had produced over 140 full length feature films, and many documentaries, newsreels and animations. Films such as Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s ‘Ukrainian Trilogy’ (‘Zvenigora’ [1928], ‘Arsenal’ [1929], ‘Earth’ (‘Zemlya’) [1930]), and Dziga Vertov’s 1929 experimental masterpiece ‘Man with a Movie Camera‘, earned VUFKU an international reputation. It controlled all aspects of the cinematic process including film-making, film processing, screening, publicity, and education. The Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre in Kyiv is engaged in discovering, researching and restoring many other early masterpieces of Ukrainian cinema produced by VUFKU.

At the time of writing Ukraine and its culture are once again being attacked by Moscow, and the Dovzhenko Centre’s precious archive of over 7,000 Ukrainian and foreign films is under threat.

Fundraising for the Dovzhenko Centre: https://gofund.me/24394934

Link to the Dovzhenko Centre: https://dovzhenkocentre.org/en/

Link to information about VUFKU: https://vufku.org/en/information/

For obvious reasons these links may not always work.

Posted in Cinema, Constructivism, Dziga Vertov, Film studios, Man with a Movie Camera, silent film, Soviet film, Ukraine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VUFKU 100

Rodchenko’s Birthday

С Днем Рождения Александр Михайлович!

Rodchenko in his Productivist work suit, folded parts of the Spatial Construction sculptures in the background, c1924. Photograph by Mikhail Kaufman.

Aleksandr Mikhailovich Rodchenko was born in St Petersburg on the 5th December 1891 (New Style calendar), and died on the 3rd December 1956 in Moscow.

December 5th 2021 is the 130th birthday of one of the great creative geniuses of the early Soviet Union. As a painter, sculptor, designer, graphic artist, and photographer, his work had a profound influence on the course of these arts from the early Twentieth Century to the present day.


Posted in Art, Cameras, Constructivism, Design, Graphic Design, Leica, Photography, product design, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Rodchenko’s Birthday

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: trainspotting!

‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (1929)

‘Long live the poetry of the propelling and propelled machine, the poetry of levers, wheels, and steel wings1, the iron screech of movements, the dazzling grimaces of red-hot jets.’

From: ‘We. A Version of a Manifesto’, Dziga Vertov, Kino-Fot no. 1, August 1922 (source: ‘The Film Factory’, ed. Richard Taylor & Ian Christie, Harvard University press, 1988, p. 72).

‘…images of trains as symbols of connectedness (especially in combination with bridges) and of dynamism, rupture with the past, glorification of modernity, continue through the 1920s in the Futurist avant garde…while the image eventually disappears from Italian art, it is absorbed, maintained, and continuously re-elaborated in Soviet art, where it becomes part of the official iconology…’

‘The Train and the Cosmos: Visionary Modernity’, Professor Matilde Marcolli, California Institute of Technology, 2015.

Mikhail Kaufman, the cinematographer and eponymous Man of the film, had a serious disagreement with his brother, Dziga Vertov, the director, over the editing of ‘Man with a Movie Camera‘ (they never worked together again). In a later interview2 he complained about the ‘interminable number of trams’ in the film and indeed they are everywhere, not surprising when filming in European cities. As with many of the Kinoks’3 films there are also a lot of trains featured, particularly at the beginning and end. Both are used to create dynamism, criss-crossing the screen, often at dramatic angles, and acting as a counterpoint to previous and following scenes. Train sequences4 also signpost a journey to Odesa intercut with views of the station and passengers in cabs. This post also shows that many of the particular railway themes in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ are a re-use or continuation of those in previous Kinoks’ films throughout the 1920s.

The railway had a significant role at the beginning of Dziga Vertov’s career when, from January 1920, he was enlisted to work on the administration of film shooting and exhibitions on the famous Agit(ational) trains (Агит-поездa, Agit-poyezda) that spread propaganda and education throughout the areas occupied by the Red Army during the Civil War5. He travelled and organised film shows on the ‘Red October’ Agit-train at this time:

‘The next step was my work on the agit-trains of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. Comrade Lenin attached great significance to the use of film in the work of the agitational trains and steamers. And so on January 6, 1920, I leave with Comrade Kalinin for the southeast front. I take films with me, including “The Anniversary of the Revolution”…We screen that film at all the train stops and carry it to urban movie theatres. At the same time, we shoot. The result is a film about the journey of the all-Russian senior leader, Kalinin. The period of my work concludes with the big film “A History of the Civil War”.6

The cinema carriage on the VI Lenin Agit train [provenance unknown]
Contemporary poster showing film projection on to an outdoor screen
Trotsky’s train from ‘The Anniversary of the Revolution’ (1918)
‘The October Revolution – a Bridge to a Brighter Future’ (1921 poster)

1A Russian term referring to the sides of a locomotive (eg. the driver stands/sits on or behind the right wing), not airplane wings (made of fabric or aluminium in that era).

2‘An interview with Mikhail Kaufman’, October Journal, Vol 11, Winter 1979, pp. 54-76, The MIT Press (interview by Annette Michelson).

3Kinoks (Киноки) was the name of the collective of Soviet documentary filmmakers founded in 1922 by Vertov, Elizaveta Svilova (Vertov’s wife) and Kaufman (the word comes from an amalgamation of the Russian for ‘Film Eyes’, ‘kino-oki’, кино-оки).

4[00:20:25] [00:20:50] [00:20:57] [00:21:00] [00:21:38] [00:21:51] [00:22:00] [00:22:11]

Screenshot times [hr:min:sec] from a restored version of the film (see Notes).

5For extensive details of Vertov’s involvement in these trains refer to ‘Dziga Vertov, Life and Work: Volume 1’, John MacKay, Academic Studies Press, 2018 (Ch. 4 p. 233 on).

6‘Kino-Eye, The Writings of Dziga Vertov’, excerpt from ‘About Love for the Living Person’, ed. Annette Michelson, tr. Kevin O’Brien, University of California Press, 1984, pp. 151-152.

Mikhail Kalinin (1875-1946) was the Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.

‘The Anniversary of the Revolution’ (1918) was Vertov’s first full length film, a two hour long documentary using archival footage, some taken from the ‘Film-Week’ (Kino-Nedelia) newsreel series (recently restored, see Notes).

‘History of the Civil War’ (1921) was another long compilation documentary film (again, using some material from the ‘Film-Week’ series). Most of the film is considered lost.


The first dramatic appearance of a train in the film as it rushes towards the intrepid cameraman. There’s an even braver one filming this with a camera and tripod in the middle of the track!


An impression is given that the camera was placed in a hole between the tracks for the shot (compare with the actual location above!).


The ‘nightmare’ and ‘waking woman’ sequence of carriages rushing across the screen at different angles.

[00:10:07 on]
Close-up of carriage windows from ‘Kino-Pravda’ No.20 (1924) [Austrian Film Museum]
[00:10:22 on]

An extraordinary sequence ending with footage of a railway track interrupted with black, darkened, and repeated frames to achieve a flickering stroboscopic effect. Professor Vlada Petrić, in his detailed analysis of the film7, has a fascinating explanation of this sequence as intending to represent ‘hypnopompic’ sensations (the transitional state that occurs during waking up).

7‘Constructivism in Film, The Man with the Movie Camera, a Cinematic Analysis’, Vlada Petrić, Cambridge University Press, 1987, pp. 164-176.

A previous shot of a railway track from Dziga Vertov’s ‘One Sixth of the World’ (1926).

A well-known photograph of Mikhail Kaufman on a Soviet-made EP (aka GET) series electric locomotive (built in 1926-27) with a Debrie Parvo Model JK camera in another risky position. The location of the camera was presumably to film railway tracks like the shots seen above (or perhaps this is just a pose…). An interesting photograph not least because the electrification of the railways in the Soviet Union, promoted by Lenin, only started in 1926 with the 19km Baku – Sabunchi – Surakhani railway in the Azerbaijan SSR. Kaufman featured this unusual (and short) locomotive in his city symphony ‘Moscow’ (1927) so presumably this photograph was taken in 1926 (though the loco is looking rather battered for such a recent introduction!). However, electrification of Moscow’s railway system did not begin until 1929 so the sequence was either filmed in Azerbaijan (by Kaufman or others?) or perhaps it was running on Moscow tram lines (both the tram and railway gauges in Russia are 5 ft8). The intertitle describes the EP as ‘The first Soviet electric locomotive’. A rather quaint photograph to modern eyes but in 1920s Soviet Russia the loco and camera epitomised modern technology, a theme in so much of the Kinoks’ work.

8The 5 ft railway gauge was proposed by an American engineer hired as a consultant to the Moscow-St Petersburg Railway in the 1840s, George Washington Whistler, the father of the renowned artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Screenshot of the EP electric locomotive from ‘Moscow’ (the train goes over the camera in a typical Kinoks’ under-train shot, below).


Balancing on top of the carriage for this shot was a very precarious location for the cameraman but Mikhail Kaufman ‘….used to push himself to his limits, often risking his life. While working on the episodes of ‘Kino-Pravda’ (Dziga Vertov’s documentary series 1922-1925) Kaufman used to lay on the rails with the camera and film the train rushing forward above him. Once, the [carriage] was not properly attached and Kaufman escaped death by moving aside at the last moment…Another time [while filming for ‘Man with a Movie Camera’] he worked standing on top of a train.’ [‘Mikhail Kaufman, Ukrainian Dilogy’, Stanislav Bytiutskyi, Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kyiv, 2018, p. 15]. Kaufman also shot an almost identical sequence for his earlier film ‘Moscow’ (1927) below9.

9Many of the familiar scenes in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ are also evident in Kaufman’s film such as the tram and train sequences, shots of the Bolshoi Theatre, Mostorg department store, Theatre and Revolution Squares, Kuznetsky Most street, Strastnaya Square and Novo-Sukharevsky Market in Moscow, steelworks scenes, machinery and workers, bus station, high level filming of traffic and crowd scenes. Bearing in mind the scarcity and expense of film stock at the time it would seem logical that some of this footage would be used for MwaMC. This recycling was common in most of the Kinoks’ work, some of the same sequences appearing in several films.

From ‘Moscow’ above, and similar rooftop sequences from ‘Kino-Pravda’ below, the first one facing to the rear of the train.

‘Kino-Pravda’ No.19 (1924) [Austrian Film Museum]
‘Kino-Pravda’ No.19 [Austrian Film Museum]

On the locomotive steps with the Debrie Parvo Model L camera. Mikhail Kaufman lives up to his dare-devil reputation with another dangerous camera position (circled) taking close-up footage of the engine wheels (below). Filmed (probably with a hand-held camera) from the platform beside the boiler (arrow) – you can see the locomotive number on the side of the cab. There is some footage filmed from a similar location in ‘Kino-Pravda’ No. 20.

[00:21:39 et al]

‘…the poetry of levers, wheels, and steel wings, the iron screech of movements…’


This low level filming of locomotive wheels also featured in Vertov’s 1926 film ‘One Sixth of the World’ above (how was the second shot filmed from this angle?).

A shot of wheels from the carriage steps this time from ‘Kino-Pravda’.

Screenshot from Austrian Film Museum print of ‘Kino-Pravda’ No. 20

More close-up footage of locomotive wheels in motion from ‘Kino-Pravda’ and Mikhail Kaufman’s ‘Moscow’ (part of a sequence of trains and locomotives).

‘Kino-Pravda’ No.20 [Austrian Film Museum]
‘Moscow’ (1927)

At the first [00:10:07] filming location from the other side of the tracks (note the electricity posts seen in [00:10:07]).


The camera follows the train as it passes (note the triangulated posts in the distance seen in [00:10:07]).

[00:20:59] [01:07:36]

At the second location – the train stops.

[00:22:13] et al

It seems dangerous and foolhardy if, as the passage above suggests, Mikhail Kaufman was indeed lying on the tracks to film these multiple sequences. How did he try it out the first time not knowing how much clearance there was under different trains – look at the low steel bar in the screenshot? The passage above suggests that he was nearly killed filming the sequences below from ‘Kino-Pravda’ from what sounds like a loose part of the carriage coupling hanging down. The commentary below seems apt! After this I suspect that the clockwork Kinamo camera was used for most of these shots (see my blog post on the cameras used in the film, link below).

‘At one point a curious intertitle informs us: “4 metres of movie-camera memory, as it falls under the wheels of the freight train.” The huge wheels flash by; a view from under the train. That’s it. The last 4 metres of what the movie camera remembers. Evidently, in the eyes of the kinocs their kino-eye was a living being.’10

10A commentary on ‘Kino-Pravda’ No. 19 from: Yuri Tsivian, Catalogue ‘Le Giornate del Cinema Muto’, Sacile/Pordenone 2004.

Screenshot from Austrian Film Museum print of ‘Kino-Pravda‘ No. 19
Just the locomotive this time from ‘Kino-Pravda’ No.20 [Austrian Film Museum]

Under-train shots were a feature of Kinoks’ films from the beginning – below is a scene from ‘Kino-glaz’ (1924). This superbly filmed sequence is quite hypnotic and very different in character to the more conventional shots in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’. Note the heavy coupling hanging down, presumably like the one that nearly killed Kaufman!

The same piece of film was re-used for the end of Kino-Pravda No. 21 (devoted to Lenin). The text says ‘along the rails of Leninism’.

Screenshot from Austrian Film Museum print of ‘Kino-Pravda‘ No. 21 (1925)

Viktor Shklovsky in his review of ‘Stride, Soviet!’ in Sovetski Ecran (14th August 1926, p. 4)11 praises ‘the shots of a train beneath the wheels’. It isn’t clear what this is referring to as I haven’t found any under train shots in this film. However, there are other superb shots of locomotives which I have added at the end of the post.

11‘The Film Factory’, ed. Richard Taylor & Ian Christie, Harvard University press, 1988, p. 152

There is a horse and cart version (going backwards over the camera) in ‘Kino-glaz’! Surely filmed with a motorised camera, not hand-cranking!

At the first filming location (note the triangulated posts). Filmed in the opposite direction to [00:10:07].


Taken from similar camera positions at the second location but different locomotives. Imagine lying between the tracks, if this was the case, watching this train approaching!

[00:10:10] [01:06:55] [01:07:04] [01:07:21]

A similar locomotive and track shot but at a third location.


A similar shot from ‘Kino-Pravda’, a locomotive only – see above for the underneath view.

Kino-Pravda’ No.20 [Austrian Film Museum]

A shot of a locomotive without carriages going away at the second location (very little clearance underneath – another heavy coupling hanging down!). This is the back of the tender to the locomotive in [01:06:55].


Another steam engine ‘at speed’ along the track at the first filmed location (presumed from the post in the distance).


A similar shot from the track-side in ‘Kino-glaz’ (1924) below.

The C (S) on the front of the steam engines in the films gives a clue to the type. This is a restored example of the Class C (2-6-2 wheel configuration), a common passenger locomotive of this era, built in Russia between 1910 and 1919. Wikipedia Russia has a very comprehensive article about these good-looking locomotives, including details of the individual ones seen in the film. [photo source: Wikipedia Russia]

The carriage behind the locomotive is typical of many in the film, a Third Class pre-Revolutionary design, built in the 1900s, usually painted green.

Photograph courtesy of fototerra.ru

A great shot of an unnumbered Class C locomotive coming into a station from ‘Kino-Pravda’.

Screenshot from Austrian Film Museum print of ‘Kino-Pravda’ No. 22 (1925)

Another Class C undergoing maintenance work, and a finished one emerging from the shed freshly painted with a star on the front, both in Vertov’s ‘Stride, Soviet!’ (1926). See the end of the post for more shots of locomotives in this film.

The only non Class C locomotive in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ at the second filming location. It is likely to be a Class Щ (2-8-0) type (as in the superb group photograph below) from the unclear letter on the front, which was in service in Ukraine (built 1906-1924).


Perhaps influenced by Arthur Honneger’s 1923 orchestral work ‘Pacific 231’ an example of this class of locomotive inspired a vocal composition in 1926 [music by V. Kruchinin, lyrics by P. Herman], and a rather good Constructivist poster!

[01:07:38] [01:07:42]

A mysterious vehicle on the railway track, front (top) and rear (bottom). These are ‘hidden’ images in the last fast montage of the film, only occupying a few frames. I have not found any contemporary or earlier truck, van, ‘bus, or car that looks remotely like this vehicle. It seems to have a heavily framed ‘V’ shaped windscreen and superstructure, a (red?) star on top of the radiator and a (wooden?) buffer bar fitted to the front and rear of it. The rear (presumed) is almost semi-circular with large lights and a small window. No rear loading doors, so perhaps a passenger vehicle. It could be a conversion of the ubiquitous AMO F-15 truck, though the radiator looks slightly different and there are only single wheels at the back (the truck has paired rear wheels). This odd contraption does not appear anywhere else in the film and the track location seems to be different from the others. Shot for an earlier film (one of the lost episodes of ‘Kino-Pravda’?) perhaps, though I haven’t found anything yet.

The cameraman being run over again, and this convinces me that a clockwork camera (such as the Kinamo) and not the hand-cranked Debrie Parvo or Interview12 must have been used for most of these ‘under train’ shots as there is no possibility of this chassis clearing someone lying on the track! The wheels are very odd as they appear to have rubber tyres (look at the rear ones), and are not flanged steel railway wheels, an impossibility! There are examples of rubber-tyred rail vehicles but they always have some method of keeping the wheels on the rails.

12See my blog post on the cameras in the film for details, link below.

Kino-Nedelya No. 21 (1918) [Austrian Film Museum]

A car on rails also featured in the newsreel ‘Cinema Week’ (Kino-Nedelya) No. 21 but this one is more obviously adapted for rail use with proper flanged wheels (and it makes a lot of smoke!)13.

13Dziga Vertov began his film career as the office manager and book keeper of the Moscow Film Committee’s Photo-Film Division that produced Kino-Nedelya and he started editing the films around the time of this issue [refer to ‘Dziga Vertov, Life and Work: Volume 1’, John MacKay, Academic Studies Press, 2018, Ch. 4 p. 193 on].

Other shots of trains in the film not illustrated above: [00:10:14] [00:10:18] [00:21:00] [00:21:40] [00:21:51] [00:22:00] [00:22:12] [01:03:48] [01:04:47] [01:04:48] [01:04:51][01:07:34].

A shot of Mikhail Kaufman with the Debrie Parvo camera apparently during filming of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ [source: ‘Mikhail Kaufman, Ukrainian Dilogy’, Stanislav Bytiutskyi, Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kyiv, 2018]. The tracks are for a narrow gauge railway (2’6″), half of the conventional track gauge in Russia. Most of these railways were in forested areas or for the peat industry, or in factory locations. It isn’t clear where this was taken. The stacked timber might be a clue. These railway tracks do not appear in the film.

STRIDE, SOVIET!’ [Шагай Cовет!] (1926)

No connection to any footage seen in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ but I thought I would add some more shots of steam locomotives from this earlier Kinoks’ film. As with so much of their carefully composed cinematography the individual frames make wonderful still pictures (the cameraman on this film was Ivan Beliakov).

Dramatic footage of crashed trains, the first one perhaps in the Civil War as you can see some artillery in the wrecked wagons.


Nearly twenty years after writing the words at the beginning of this post Dziga Vertov looked back on his career in 1941 using a railway analogy:

 “Documentary cinema is not yet a cross-country vehicle. These are still the first rails and the first locomotive. I’ve spent my whole life building the locomotive, but I have not yet been able to obtain a broad railway network…14

14‘Kino-Eye, the Writings of Dziga Vertov’, ed. Annette Michelson, tr. Kevin O’Brien, Pluto Press, 1984,  p. 243.


I have added links to other websites and information to enhance the value of this post and although I have taken reasonable steps to ensure that they are reputable, I am unable to accept responsibility for any viruses and malware arising from these links.

Fair Use claimed for any copyright material as it is copied solely for research purposes and commentary only, without financial gain. Attribution and links given where known. Contemporary Soviet photographs are generally in the public domain.

This post assumes some knowledge of this 1929 masterpiece of Soviet Cinema and its creators. For more information and a bibliography of essential reading about the film read my previous blog posts:

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the movie cameras

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the film locations

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the first cinema screening

‘Man with a Movie Camera’ screenshots from various sources. Screenshot times (approximate) in [hr:min:sec] from the Eye Institute/Lobster Films 2014 restoration of the film.

Screenshots of ‘Stride, Soviet!’ from a YouTube version posted by Film Preservation Associates.

‘Anniversary of the Revolution’ (1918), Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive, restored by Nikolai Izvolov, 2018.

Screenshots of ‘Moscow’ (1927) from a YouTube video posted by the CSDF Museum project.

Many thanks to Lewis Siegelbaum, Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University, for information regarding the ‘mystery vehicle’ at the end of the film.

Locomotive information from various sources including Wikipedia.

Other references on the association of railways and the avant-garde:

‘Putting Revolution in the Rails’, Tevfik Rada, Academia, 2019

‘Fast Forward: The Aesthetics and Ideology of Speed in Russian Avant-Garde Culture, 1910-1930’, Tim Harte, University of Wisconsin Press, 2009.

‘Modernism, Postmodernism and Steam’, Timothy J Clark, October Journal, Vol 100, Spring 2002.

‘The Arrival of a Train’ exhibition, Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow, 2018

Please contact me with any comments and queries: richardbossonsfcsd@gmail.com

FOR AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS POST PLEASE GO TO: richardbossons.academia.edu/research

Posted in Camera, Cameras, Cinema, Constructivism, Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, silent film, Soviet film, Steam locomotives, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: trainspotting!


Studying ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ carefully, shot by shot, for two previous posts on the locations and cameras, I was struck by the repetition of reflected and reversed images throughout the film from the first dramatic view of the giant camera with the cameraman on top of it, to the ‘Film-Eye’ closing in the last few frames. No other film that I know of uses this editing technique to such a great extent. Largely invisible to an audience many of the reversed shots are just a few frames long (one second or less) spliced into the film.

Technically known as ‘flopped’1 images these only occur in the parts of the film shot in 1928, not in any of the ‘The Eleventh Year’ sequences used in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’. Some of the lens shots were most likely filmed into a mirror which is why they are reflected images with the lettering the wrong way round. Other lens shots, and almost all of the camera body shots were reversed in the editing. Parts of the location sequences of the carousel and beach were also flopped. Some shots were reversed to show the opposite direction to a particular sequence (horseman, athletics etc). This consistent reflective imagery would have been a conscious editing decision, but the reasons for some of it are not obvious and I have been unable to find any discussion of the topic. Professor Vlada Petrić mentions some reversed shots in his detailed frame-by-frame analysis of the film, ‘Constructivism in Film, the Man with the Movie Camera, A Cinematic Analysis’ (Cambridge University Press, 1987) and his reasons for three of them are noted below ([00:02:22] [00:10:07] [00:19:52]2).

Writing about filming newsreels in 19223 Vertov listed one of the requirements as: ‘…trick printing of the positive from the negative (dual and triple printing), printing various negatives into the positive (aperture inventions – laboratory montage)…’. Perhaps turning the film the wrong way round is another variation of ‘trick printing’ though it would not be noticed by an audience.

1Flopped image = a static or moving image that is generated by a mirror-reversal of an original image across a vertical axis. Not to be confused with reversed motion shots (see Notes). A ‘flipped’ image is across a horizontal axis. [WikiVisually].

2[hr:min:sec] Screenshot times taken from a restored print of the film (see Notes).

3Source: ‘Lines of Resistance: Dziga Vertov and the Twenties’, ed. Yuri Tsivian, tr. Julian Graffy, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, 2004, p. 81.


[00:02:22] The first frames of the film. The camera is reversed: the ‘Le Parvo’ lettering is back to front and the viewfinder and crank handle are on the wrong sides. The miniature camera on top is also reversed (the prominent silver disc on the Debrie Parvo Model L is on the wrong side). Correct image below.

Professor Petrić mentions this reversal (p. 134): ‘The viewer’s attention is promptly drawn to the circular form of the lens by the mirror image of the camera manufacturer’s logo4 “Le Parvo” (“Le Parvo”) [sic] reflected in the lens’ rim, forcing the viewer to read the words counterclockwise.’

I am not sure what is meant by this as I cannot make out any clear reflection on the lens (in an HD version of the film). As can be seen in [00:11:11] the hood is in the usual black satin finish which does not reflect very well. Even if it was reflected the lettering would be upside down as well as back to front, and ‘counterclockwise’ is not the right description. It is the reversed images of the lenses later in the film that have the counterclockwise rim engraving. I am doubtful that the audience’s attention would be drawn to the lens by this name reversal as it is already very prominent and in the centre of the screen. I suspect most Soviet audiences would not have registered that the French/Latin text is reversed, not knowing what it meant. Interestingly, Professor Petrić uses this image the correct way around to illustrate his essay ‘Film-Eye vs Film-Truth’ without explanation.

So I think there must be another reason for this reversal. Perhaps the exact opposite is intended: by reversing the lettering on the camera and lenses it becomes unreadable and less of a distraction to the viewer (though this does not explain why the lens in [00:33:48] is the correct way round).

4The manufacturer’s logo is an eagle on top of a globe with a length of film in its beak. ‘Parvo’ is the name of the camera model (Latin for ‘small’ as the camera is very compact because of the internal film magazines).

[01:07:44] The last frames of the film, the ‘Film-Eye’ closing. The Kinoks’ symbolic device (кино-глаз, Kino-glaz5) was invented by Mikhail Kaufman in the early 1920s using his colleague Boris Kudinov’s eye [source: ‘Ukrainian Dilogy’, S. Bytiutskyi, Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre, Kyiv, 2018, p. 12]. Note the reversed lettering on the lens. This is the same set-up as seen in [00:11:34] & [00:11:46] with the iris attachment, and was most likely filmed into a mirror (see below).

5Variously translated as Kino-Eye, Cine-Eye etc.


[00:02:22] Opening sequence (the ‘miniature’ camera on top is also in reverse). Illustrated above.

[00:11:11 on] Lens changing sequence. The crank handle should be on this side. 

[00:11:23] [00:11:27] [00:11:30] Front view of the camera being cranked (young tramp sequence). The handle should be on the left of the lens, this is the viewfinder side.

[00:35:44] Brief image of camera cranking from front (in reverse?).

[00:37:56] Cranking camera in reverse (non-reflected image, otherwise identical to [00:38:03] and the young tramp sequence). In some prints of the film (eg BFI version) this shot is also flipped ie seen upside down!

[00:38:03] Cranking camera in reverse (‘mirrored’ view of above). This makes editorial sense as a balancing image to the previous one.

[00:34:58] Side view of the camera being cranked.

[00:42:31] [00:42:34] [00:42:37] The same side view of the camera being cranked juxtaposed with machinery rotating.

All of the shots of the cranking side of the camera are flopped as above. The handle should be on the other side. Presumably the reversal was to have the cranking action match the direction of the machinery in the latter three shots.

[00:11:34] & [00:11:46] 21cm lens with camera reflection. This looks as though it was filmed into a mirror as the iris attachment in the image also appears to be on the reflected camera. This is the same iris as seen in the well-known Eleazar Langman photograph of Kaufman and the Debrie Parvo Model L camera below. Note the adjustment lever with the thickened end at the top left present in many of the reflected images of the camera. This set-up was also used for the ‘Film-Eye’ at the end of the film when the iris closes (compare the scratch marks on the rh iris perimeter).

It is interesting to speculate about how this set-up was achieved. If the iris attachment was used with a standard or wide angle lens it could be fixed directly to the front of the camera. However as the telephoto lens would have extended past the iris preventing it from working it is likely that a bellows lens hood would have been used to allow the iris to be fixed in front of the long lens. It looks as though the standard lens hood has been removed. The Model L catalogue shows both of these accessories.

The iris is seen on the Model L camera during the animation sequence [01:00:39 on].

[00:12:39] & [00:12:42] 15cm lens with another iris attachment6. These do not show a camera reflection in the lens but what looks like foliage, indicating that the shots could have been taken with another camera and telephoto lens from a distance rather than into a mirror, and then flopped in the editing for some reason. There is some unclear movement reflected in the lens which may be a cranking action.

[00:12:59] & [00:13:04] Last frames of Reel 1 & first frames of Reel 2. 15cm telephoto lens with iris opening and closing (and ‘foliage’ reflection). The same details as above. The iris is used unconventionally to signify the reel change by filming it from the outside rather than through the lens!

6This iris may be an earlier type, most likely used on the Debrie Interview camera. It is not shown in the Model L catalogue. Note the ‘Établissements André Debrie Paris’ engraving (in reverse) around the perimeter. A bellows lens hood would also have been used with the iris for these shots, as seen in screenshot [00:29:17] on the Debrie Interview.

[00:14:34] [00:14:37] 21cm lens (reflection of camera being cranked, with superimposed Film-Eye). The camera reflection and background look very similar to [00:33:48 etc]. The reflected camera has the iris not seen around the lens and so it seems likely that this took the shot which was flopped in the editing.

[00:32:22] 21cm lens (same lens image with eye as above).

[00:33:48] Start of Reel 4 – 21cm lens rising up with reflection of camera being cranked (the only non-reflected image of a lens in the film, but the same appearance as [00:43:27] at the end of this reel). Again, the reflected camera has the iris that is not present in the shot of the lens. If reversing the lenses was meant to make the lettering unreadable it isn’t clear why this solitary one was left the right way round.

[00:43:27] End of Reel 4 – 21cm lens going down, as [00:33:48] but flopped in the editing (and slightly out of focus). Same reflection of the camera, reversed.

The original shot [00:33:48] showing the 21cm telephoto lens (the correct way round) rising up at the beginning of reel 4 must have been taken with the camera that is reflected in the lens, and not into a mirror. As this looks like the Parvo Model L with the iris attachment what camera is being filmed? As the 21cm lens has the special Model L mount which would not fit the other camera used in 1928 (the Debrie Interview) was there a second Model L Parvo used for the filming? There appears to be a camera body in the background. See my previous blog post for information about the different cameras used in the film. The same lens goes down to signify the end of Reel 4 but this has been deliberately reversed in the editing.

[00:35:43/44] 21cm lens – reflection of a camera being adjusted? A strange reflection as the camera seems to be on its side (what looks like the rear viewfinder can be seen hanging down when the frames are studied) and there isn’t any obvious cranking action. There is also a second off centre ghostly reflection of the lens rim (with projecting lugs) of the Debrie Interview. The background to the lens looks like the Parvo Model L. However, this could not be a shot taken with the reflected Interview camera on its side as the lens is the right way up (Tessar is always at the top). Nothing about this shot makes much sense and there aren’t enough frames (21) for a more detailed study.

[00:35:03] Filming into a mirrored stand or booth (Paris Specialist [shoe?] Cleaner). Not reversed but the only reflected shot of the camera definitely filmed into a mirror!

[01:07:44] The ‘Film-Eye’ closing, the final image of the film. Illustrated at the beginning of the post. The same view of the 21cm lens with the iris attachment in [00:11:34] & [00:11:46] with the eye superimposed.


[00:03:51] & [00:03:58] Shantser Cinema seats at the beginning of the film (note TS on the back = Theater Shantser. Anton Shantser was Austrian). Obvious editing reasons for this reversal.

[00:03:32] & [00:05:00] Film through the projector. The later shot is in motion. There is also a slight difference in framing between the two shots. Again, the reason for this reversal seems obvious.

[00:10:07] Railway track sequence. Top is original shot, bottom is flopped shot. There are clear editing reasons for this reversal (see Petrić p. 167). There may be other reversed shots of the train carriages in this sequence but it is difficult to tell.

[00:22:36] [00:23:04] [00:25:02] The first shot (top) is of a carriage with two women and a man in a straw hat travelling north along Pushkins’ka in Odesa being filmed from the camera car. The second shot (bottom) is of the carriage ‘frozen’ facing in the opposite direction. The third shot is the ‘frozen’ image moving again in the same reverse direction. This carriage and passengers is also seen going in the right direction in [00:21:41] and [00:21:56].

[00:48:35 on] Flopped sequences of a rider on a horse galloping in opposite directions. Not exactly the same background but the horse’s inside front leg has the white ‘sock’ in both shots.

[00:48:13] [00:48:18] Athletics sequence. Curiously the framing isn’t exactly the same (the lower image is enlarged) but the position of the athletes is identical. Presumably this happened when the film strip was copied.

[01:05:23 on] During the fast montage sequence at the end of the film a carriage is seen in Odesa with one male and two female passengers, one holding flowers. This is shown going in one direction on the Shantser Cinema screen and in the opposite direction thereafter.


Most of the carousel sequence [00:54:23 on] is in reverse as you can tell by the camera – the viewfinder is on the wrong side (correct image below). This may have been an editorial decision to show the carousel circulating in the opposite direction (clockwise) to the motorcycles going around the track (anti-clockwise). A few of the carousel shots are the right way around so this contrast is not consistent.


Current view of Kuyal’nik (near Odesa) showing the (now derelict) Sanatorium pier and hill behind in the opposite direction to the screenshot [Google Earth – photograph by Vladimir Percenko].


[00:51:05] & [00:51:18]

Most of the reversed images are of the Debrie Model L Parvo. The exception is in part of the beach scene at Kuyal’nik where the Debrie Interview with Mikhail Kaufman is shown the wrong way around. The background is clearly incorrect in the top picture and the cranking handle should be on the opposite side in the bottom shot as the correct image below. I have not discovered any obvious reasons for this reversal.



There is a long shot of reflections of Strastnaya Square in Moscow from what appears to be a revolving glass door (the camera and cameraman are visible in the screenshot above). Professor Petrić has a lengthy analysis in his book (p. 88) of this sequence, suggesting it represents the triumph of Vertov’s ‘Film-Truth’ principles (the reflected views of the outside ‘real’ world) over entertainment cinema (the first frames showing the film poster of ‘The Awakening of a Woman’, a 1927 German comedy film).


Reflections (above) in the Mostorg department store front (Theatre Square, Moscow), and (below) in the windows of the Singer sewing machine and ‘cyclist’ shops, and a building with large windows (all three in unknown locations).





Many of the well-known photographs of Dziga Vertov and Mikhail Kaufman are often reversed in error, as are screenshots of the final sequence of MK in a speeding car through Odesa, most likely through a lack of knowledge of the cameras. The external viewfinder on a Debrie camera is on the right of the lens, and the crank handle is on the left, not as the following images (there are many more!):

FullSizeRender - 3(2)

The only photograph known of Dziga Vertov with a camera not on location. The incorrect top rh image is published in ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, T. Tode & B. Wurm, photograph #55 (and also seen in other publications). Vertov is holding the main part of the Kinamo camera (seen with Mikhail Kaufman in [00:43:00] & [00:43:05]) with the lens and film compartment. The missing motor drive casing is on the right of the lens and fits over the silver metal rim, as shown in the correct lh top image. Bottom images show the correct view as demonstrated by my own Kinamo – note the position of the front and rear frame-finder (the rear of the camera is towards the viewer).


Much of my commentary is speculative as I have not found any information about the reflected and reversed images other than noted above. Any suggestions and comments would be welcomed. I would also appreciate information about any reversed shots I might have missed! My email is:


I have found little published about ‘flopping’ or ‘mirror reversal’ in film, and what there is does not have much relevance to ‘Man with a Movie Camera’:

‘The Aesthetics of Mirror Reversal’, Roy Sorensen, Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, Vol. 100, No. 2 (Aug., 2000), pp. 175-191, Springer, JSTOR (registration required).

‘A Note on the Aesthetics of Mirror Reversal’, Rafael De Clercq, Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, vol. 132, no. 3, 2007, pp. 553-563, JSTOR (registration required).

The effect of left-right reversal on film: Watching Kurosawa reversed, Marco Bertamini, Carole Bode, Nicola Bruno, Iperception. 2011; 2(6): 528–540. Published online 2011 Sep 15.

Mirror or left-right reversal is of course distinct from Reverse Motion, another consistent feature of the film (eg. pigeons flying backwards, people and traffic going backwards, etc). See Petrić p. 117.

The screenshots are from a version of the film posted on YouTube by a Ukrainian source AVG which is no longer available. The screenshot times [hr:min:sec] are from the Lobster Films/Eye Institute 2014 restoration of the film.

Details of the cameras and lenses used in the film can be found in my blog post ‘Man with a Movie Camera: the movie cameras’.

FOR AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS POST PLEASE GO TO: richardbossons.academia.edu/research


Posted in Camera, Cameras, Cinema, Constructivism, Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, silent film, Soviet film, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: reflections

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the first cinema screening

In the spring of 1927 Dziga Vertov* moved to Kyiv to work for VUFKU, the All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Adminstration (Vse-Ukrains’ke Foto Kino Upravlinnia, ВУФКУ – Всеукраїнське фоtокіноуправління) after being sacked by Sovkino, the Russian equivalent, for being over budget on his film ‘One Sixth of the World’ [1926], and for refusing to present a script for ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (which he had no intention of writing). Founded in 1922 VUFKU had a reputation for much more adventurous commissioning than Sovkino, and its predecessor Goskino, training, employing, and promoting mostly Ukrainian directors and cinematographers, and their films. VUFKU was effectively closed down in 1930, merged with Soyuzkino (Sovkino’s successor) after accusations of Nationalism, Formalism and other ‘unacceptable behaviour’ by the authorities in Moscow. In less than nine years the studios had produced over 140 full length feature films, and many documentaries, newsreels and animations. Films such as Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s ‘Ukrainian Trilogy’ (‘Zvenigora’ [1928], ‘Arsenal’ [1929], ‘Earth’ (‘Zemlya’) [1930]), and Dziga Vertov’s experimental masterpiece ‘Man with a Movie Camera‘, earned VUFKU an international reputation. It controlled all aspects of the cinematic process including film-making, film processing, screening, publicity, and education. The main studios were originally in Odesa with others in Kharkiv and Yalta. After the earthquake in Yalta in 1927 VUFKU decided to relocate its equipment to large new studios in Kyiv in 1928. These are now the home of the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Studio. The studio administration was also based in Kyiv at this time.

*With his wife and brother, Elizaveta Svilova and Mikhail Kaufman. Svilova’s virtuosic editing of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ is evident, but the latter’s creative contribution to this and earlier films is increasingly recognised (eg the excellent essays about him in the Dovzhenko Centre’s recent book, ‘Ukrainian Dilogy’ 2018).

Dziga Vertov’s first commission from the organisation was ‘The Eleventh Year’, a short propaganda film about the development of the electricity industry as part of the Soviet Union’s drive to develop the backward country (ahead of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan that began in 1928). Several sequences for ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ were shot during ‘The Eleventh Year’ filming, and Mikhail Kaufman also used some of the footage for his film ‘Unprecedented Campaign’ [1931]. The VUFKU board were obviously satisfied with this first film as during a meeting held on the 12th and 13th April 1928 permission was granted to proceed with ‘Man with a Movie Camera’.

‘6. About the permission for the director DZIGA VERTOV to shoot a picture ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (Comrade SIDERSKY).’

‘6. Shooting such a picture is considered appropriate. Pass the production plan through the appropriate authorities for approval.

According to the shooting schedule filming began in Moscow in early June and continued to mid-September in Kyiv (see my previous blog post on the locations for details of the schedule). However, a short article in the Kyiv monthly journal Kino No. 11, November 1928, mentions that ‘filming is almost finished’. Editing and production work was presumably going on at the same time, the VUFKU board complaining of slight delays in handing over the film in a minute dated 10th January 1929.

The picture “Man with a Movie Camera” instead of receiving it on January 1st* the production department promised to hand it over on January 4th, but submitted it on the 5th, while the picture was supposed to go on the screen on January 7th.’

*A previous minute mentioned January 2nd as the handover date.

VUFKU minutes from ‘Minutes of the VUFKU Board (1922-1930)’, compiled by Roman Roslyak, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Rylsky Institute of Art Studies, Folklore & Ethnology, Kyiv. Lyra-K Publishing House, 2017.


It did make the deadline as the announcement for the first cinema screening of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was published on the 6th January 1929 in the Sunday edition of the Russian language newspaper ‘Kievsky Proletary’ (it wasn’t published on a Monday).

A very modest advertisement for the film to be shown ‘tomorrow’ at Goskino No. 2 Cinema with little information except that it was a ‘film without words, Director Dziga Vertov, Cinematographer Kaufman’. The announcement also boasts that the film is the ‘best VUFKU release’, not obvious from the small badly printed advert and screening in the less prestigious Goskino No. 2. Better publicity would follow (see the posters for the Moscow and Berlin screenings).

The Goskino No. 2 Cinema (Держкінo/Derzhkino = State Cinema in Ukrainian) was the re-named Express Cinema on the main boulevard in Kyiv, Khreschatyk (entrance circled above). This was the first cinema in Kyiv, and one of the first in the Russian Empire, opened in 1907 by Anton Shantser. It was a great success and several others followed culminating in his most luxurious cinema, named after himself, which opened on Khreschatyk in 1912. This is the cinema that features in the opening scenes of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (see a previous blog post for screenshots and details) so it was a pity that the film could not have been shown there. Both cinemas were confiscated after the revolution and renamed Goskino No. 1 and No. 2. They were destroyed in 1942 when the retreating Red Army blew up the Khreschatyk area of Kyiv.

Although the evidence points to the 7th January being the date of the first screening of the film in a cinema an article [1] on the 12th January 1929 in the ‘Proletars’ka Pravda’ (Ukrainian language) Kyiv newspaper implies an earlier pre-release screening of the film. A remarkably appreciative and insightful review by an anonymous author ‘N.U.’ (likely to be the writer and poet Mykola Ushakov [2]) in the same newspaper on the 21st December is describing the film that must have been seen before it was ready for distribution. Professor John MacKay, Vertov’s biographer, has drawn my attention* to a document in the Vertov archive in Moscow (RGALI f. 2091, op. 1, d. 34) which records the minutes of a ‘discussion of the film “Man with a Movie Camera” by the representatives of the press with the speech by DA Vertov’ dated 7th November 1928. Referring to this in his Academia paper ‘Man with a Movie Camera: an Introduction’, 2013 (p. 5, fn. 8), Professor MacKay notes that ‘the speakers at this session were largely enthusiastic about the film, in contrast to an earlier debate in Khar’kov, where (according to Vertov) speakers declared that he should be prevented from working further, and that the film was a “criminal” waste of government funds’.

This seems to be the only record of pre-release screenings of the film but as filming appears to have still been going on in October (Kino article above), and the VUFKU production department only handed the release print over for public screening on the 5th January 1929, the film must have been incomplete at this stage. It also seems odd that Mykola Ushakov’s enthusiastic review was not published until six weeks after the November screening. It therefore seems likely that there was another screening in late December to approve the film for release. Unfortunately, there are no details of any pre-release screening in the VUFKU protocols.

*email to author

[1] [2] See Notes at end

Anna Onufriienko, Research Scholar and co-curator of the exhibition ‘VUFKU: Lost & Found’, at the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre in Kyiv comments:

‘Щодо показу в грудні, думаю, це ймовірно, можливо, показ був внутрішній на засіданні приймальної комісії ВУФКУ, які обговорювали і дозволяли випуск фільму в прокат. Подібні засідання були звичною практикою. Наприклад, у книзі Українська дилогія, яка сподіваюсь, до вас невдовзі потрапить, є стенограма такого засідання щодо фільму “Навесні”. Там були присутні різні представники ВУФКУ, а також журналісти, письменники. Щодо такого показу в протоколах ВУФКУ нічого немає.’

‘As for the screening in December, I think it is probably possible that the screening was internal at a meeting of the admissions committee of VUFKU, which discussed and allowed the release of the film for rent. Such meetings were common practice. For example, in the book ‘Ukrainian Dilogy’….there is a transcript of such a meeting on the film “In Spring”. There were various representatives of VUFKU, as well as journalists and writers. There is nothing about such a show in the protocols of VUFKU.’


‘Proletars’ka Pravda’ 21st December 1928

The Ukrainian transcription from the review by Mykola Ushakov and a full translation are at the end of the post. Ushakov is full of praise for the film, describing it as a masterpiece.

“…Dziga Vertov himself calls his film only an experiment. Perhaps this is excessive modesty. Man with a Movie Camera almost goes beyond the scope of laboratory research. This is a truthful picture, which excites not only by the freshness of its view of the material, not only by its formal achievements but also by its thematic depth. Many directors in the USSR and abroad will extract material from it in parts, and dozens and hundreds of young filmmakers will learn from it photogeny, interpretation of nature, editing and cinematographic art.

VUFKU is destined to give world cinema a new masterpiece. Let VUFKU use it to provide Vertov with a further opportunity to experiment in this way. These experiments will become the pride of Ukrainian cinema.”


Advertisements in Russian from the ‘Kievsky Proletary’ newspaper and in Ukrainian from the ‘Proletars’ka Pravda’ newspaper.


The second announcement for the film has even less information than the first, omitting ‘best release from VUFKU’. Goskino No. 1 Cinema is screening Vsevolod Pudovkin’s ‘Storm over Asia’ (aka ‘The Heir to Genghis Khan’) [1928] (with a mention of Dovzhenko’s ‘Arsenal’ below), stiff competition for ‘Man with a Movie Camera’!


Announcements in both papers, proclaiming that the third day is sold out! ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ is described as ‘the only new experimental film in the USSR without words in 8 parts’ (sic). There is much more information about the film this time in rather florid language: ‘Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov*, Odessa, Kiev are in anticipation of a dream (of) dialectical movement, contrasts and versatility. The most sophisticated techniques of modern cinema, extraordinary filming without any preparation of props, without a script, and without actors. Life as it is. Many Kievans can see themselves on the screen, where they were photographed by the camera in the cinema, even through a window at home. At the same time the art of film editing and the integrity of the design are impressive.

These adverts are perversely printed at right angles to the page for some reason, perhaps to make them stand out.

*I have only found evidence of one Kharkiv location in the film. See my blog post on the locations.


Announcements for the film in the newspapers on this day have not been found. Perhaps it was sold out again and there was no need to advertise.

There is an advertisement for the film in the 10th January edition of the monthly Kiev journal ‘Kino-Gazeta’ at the bottom of page 4. This proclaims: ‘VUFKU News! An extremely interesting film will be shown in Ukraine. Cinematographer Kaufman, Author-Director Dziga Vertov’.


Back to the same basic announcement of the 8th January.


Interest in the film was waning perhaps as two comedies have been added to the programme to encourage Saturday cinema goers!


This was the last day of the film in Kyiv and the following Monday’s screening was being promoted in larger type. This was an ‘artistic drama’ entitled ‘The Right to Life’, a 1928 Sovkino film directed by Pavel Petrov-Bytov. It was about ‘the battle against protectionism in the production process during the NEP years’ which does not sound much like an ‘artistic drama’ but the story-line of a village girl being exploited when she comes to the city is similar to Boris Barnet’s more famous 1928 film ‘The House on Trubnaia’. [source: Julian Graffy]


The print of the film must have then gone straight to Kharkiv as the first screening in the Ukrainian capital at the time was announced in the Sunday 13th January edition of the Khar’kovsky Proletary newspaper for the following Tuesday at the Goskino ‘K. Liebknecht’ cinema. The digital press archives for Kharkiv are incomplete so I am unable to discover how long the film was shown, and find reviews.

The announcement proclaims (in Russian) that this is the ‘first film without words’, and goes on to copy the titles at the beginning of the film – ‘An experiment in the cinematic transmission of visual phenomena, without resorting to theatre (a drama without actors, sets etc), without the help of a script (a film without a script), and finally without intertitles (a film without intertitles).’

Early 1900s view of Sumska Street, the main street in the city, showing the location of the cinema.

The cinema was opened in 1913 as the ‘Empire’, confiscated after the Revolution and re-named after the 19thC Prussian socialist politician and theorist Karl Liebknecht. [1930s photograph of the entrance].

An extravagant display of folk paintings and costumes to advertise the 1936 film of ‘Natalka Poltavka’, the 1819 nationalist play by Ivan Kotlyarevsky turned into a popular operetta by Mykola Lysenko in 1889. This first adaptation of an operetta in the Soviet Union was directed by Ivan Kavaleridze. A surprising production given the political situation of Ukraine at the time as the anti-nationalistic ‘Great Terror’ had commenced but apparently Stalin liked the operetta.


The Moscow premiere of the film was at the Hermitage Theatre in the Hermitage Garden and Tverskaya 46 Cinema on the corner of Tverskaya and Strastnaya Square. There was a preview of the film in the previous month attended by ‘experts in the art of film and from literature, theatre, and art circles’ as reported by the German Die Form magazine (see German screening).

A 19thC postcard of the Hermitage Theatre, one of the pavilions in the Hermitage Garden, located in the north of the city near the Garden Ring. Established in 1894 the garden became an important cultural centre with several theatres located in buildings in the garden or nearby. The Hermitage Theatre (not to be confused with its more famous St Petersburg namesake) was the venue for the first showing of a film in the city (‘The Arrival of a Train’) by a travelling Lumière operator in 1896. Nationalised in 1918 it was rented by a group of entrepreneurs in the NEP period for a variety of entertainment events, including film shows.

Screenshot [00:16:13] from the film showing the corner of the Tverskaya 46 Cinema at the junction of Strastnaya Square and Tverskaya street. The poster of a man in spats and large ‘disc’ with the cinema name can be seen on the building behind the motorcycle and sidecar in another screenshot below. The full poster as seen below is on the wall to the right of the kiosk.

Screenshot [01:04:31] showing the cinema on Strastnaya Square.

The cinema’s entry in a 1929 Moscow directory.

The posters are advertising the 1928 film ‘Engineer Elagin’, directed by Vladimir Feinberg. The man in spats probably depicts the engineer’s traitorous son in the pay of foreign intelligence, who sabotages his father’s factory and kills a worker. Engineer Elagin forces his son at gunpoint to give himself up! [Many thanks to James Mann for tracking down the poster and to Julian Graffy for information on the film]

The first* announcement for the film in ‘Pravda’ on Sunday 7th April 1929 advertising the premiere on the 9th.

The advertisement for the film on the day of the premiere. Unclear in parts but much of the rather sensational text is decipherable: ‘Today, the premiere of the first film in the SSSR without words. Man with a Movie Camera, Author supervisor Dziga Vertov, Chief cameraman M. Kaufman, Assistant editor E. Svilova. A VUFKU Production. Hermitage VUFKU, Tverskaya 46. Amazing adventures of a film cameraman. On land, on water, underground and in the air, for the first time – the TRANSFORMATION of a cameraman from a GIANT into a midget and vice versa. A Cinema GULLIVER…People in the air, a FROZEN horse, FILM-RESURRECTION of people and animals…The man is in danger…a tram over the auditorium…HELP…EXPLOSION of time. What happened to Theatre Square? The rebellious pendulum. Chasing time. Up to 1000 kilometres an hour…Up to 15 minutes per minute.’

*Preliminary ‘teaser’ advertisements were placed in Pravda from the end of March.

In contrast to the paltry announcements in the Kyiv and Kharkiv press VUFKU obviously thought it worthwhile to commission the renowned graphic artists Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg to design a poster for the Russian screening of the film. The result is a masterpiece, surely one of the greatest film posters of all time. It perfectly captures the spirit of the film’s breakneck journey through the city, using a spiralling motif with the letters suggesting the frames of a film. Clearly produced to promote the film for the Moscow premiere the description of Vertov et al matches that in the Pravda advertisement. Printed (by Sovkino) in an astonishingly large edition of 12,000.

The second Stenberg brothers poster for the film doesn’t quite match the virtuosity of their first but is still a wonderful graphic representation of images from the film (though the ‘gun’ silhouette is clearly designed to attract an audience as it is only a fleeting image in the film). The ‘camera eye’ is a brilliant device, and the Debrie camera and tripod are very accurately depicted.

This poster for the film by M. Chelovski is exhibited in the Cinémathèque française in Paris, but I have no information about it or the designer. In the Russian language but an odd rendering of the film title using ‘из’ (of) and ‘Kaufman’ is also spelled incorrectly. The alternative spelling of аппаратом is odd as the ‘m’ replacing ‘t’ in Cyrillic is normally only used in handwriting or an italic font. [photograph courtesy of the Cinémathèque française]

Anna Onufriienko has found a Ukrainian version of the poster seen in a catalogue of the ‘Ippei Fukura Collection’ of Soviet posters at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. The ‘with’ in the film title is now correct but the misspelled ‘Kaufman’ remains. The Dovzhenko Centre does not know of any other Ukrainian posters for the film. The only other publicity I have come across is a newspaper or magazine advertisement in the Vertov Archive at the Austrian Film Museum.

‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was on for a week, replaced on the 16th April in both cinemas by an old Harold Lloyd film ‘Grandma’s Boy’ (1922). Also on show (‘exclusively’) at the famous ARS Cinema on Arbat was another 1922 film ‘Nanook of the North’.

This is the actual poster advertising ‘Grandma’s Boy’ at Tverskaya 46 on the 16th April 1929.

Chapters 24 & 25 in ‘Lines of Resistance: Dziga Vertov and the Twenties’ (edited by Yuri Tsivian) has several articles on the film, some with complaints about the short run at both cinemas. Konstantin Feldman in Vecherniaia Moskva, 18th April 1929, (chap. 25, p. 349) writes that ‘Our readers remember the campaign which Vecherniaia Moskva had to wage so as to achieve the cinematic release of Dziga Vertov’s film “Man with a Movie Camera”. Our exhibitors and cinema administrators – experienced specialists and connoisseurs of public taste – peremptorily decided that this film would not “get through” to the mass viewer. When it was finally put on in two large Moscow cinemas, Dziga Vertov’s film brilliantly refuted these gloomy prophecies. For a whole week the film did good box office at both theatres, competing successfully against foreign “hits”‘.

However, Feldman complains, despite this great success the film was immediately withdrawn from the screens of the two cinemas. He sarcastically says that if they were showing ‘popular’ films everything would have been ‘arranged for the better’ and they would have been kept on for a second and third week. ‘The film is being taken off the screen by force. We must hurry and expedite the release of such a significant film as “Grandma’s Boy” with Harold Lloyd himself. The mistake goes beyond the bounds of the permissible. We have before us the fact of stubborn opposition to bringing a work by a Soviet master to the mass viewer. It is time to draw conclusions from this whole long drawn-out story.’

See below for further reviews from the book, and publication details.


VUFKU Board Meeting Minute 17, Protocol 53, December 11th 1928.

’17. Statement of the director VERTOV with a request to give him leave to go abroad from the 15th December.’

’17. [resolved] to give the director VERTOV a vacation and it is expedient to send him abroad. Instruct the Art Department to agree with VERTOV on his further work.’

VUFKU minute from ‘Minutes of the VUFKU Board (1922-1930)’, compiled by Roman Roslyak (see end notes for details).


In May 1929 Dziga Vertov took a print of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ with him on a tour of Europe to promote the film. It isn’t clear if this trip was a delayed result of the minute above or further permission had been granted. The tour was largely organised by the contacts of Vertov’s friends El Lissitzky and his German wife Sophie Küppers. The Lissitzkys had been commissioned to design the Russian Room at the seminal 1929 Stuttgart exhibition ‘Film und Foto’. An unprecedented event that showcased contemporary photography and cinema from Europe, the Soviet Union and the USA, by all the leading practitioners of the day. The curator of the film section of FiFo, Hans Richter, wanted to promote film as a serious art form and many prominent film-makers took part in the exhibition, including Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Duchamp, Viking Eggeling, and Walter Ruttmann. Films by Sergei Eisenstein, Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Esfir Shub, and Dziga Vertov were screened in the Russian Room.


Unlike the rest of the exhibition The Russian Room (above) combined both film and photography showing work by contemporary Soviet directors alongside photographs by Aleksandr Rodchenko and others.

HANOVER, 3rd and 4th JUNE 1929

The first screening of the film outside the Soviet Union in a cinema was in Hanover according to an announcement in the Hannoverscher Anzeiger newspaper of the 1st June 1929. It was only on for two days, with talks by Vertov and ‘other work’ being shown, as the print was presumably needed for ‘Film und Foto’. It was not screened in a conventional street level cinema but in the huge dome of the planetarium at the top of the newspaper’s offices, the Brick Expressionist Anzeiger-Hochhaus building (below). Designed by Fritz Höger, and completed in 1928, the building was one of the first high rises in Germany, hence its name. In December 1928 a temporary cinema in the planetarium was opened under the name ‘Planetarium-Lichtspiele Kulturfilmbühne‘ (stage for cultural films), with 210 seats1. The reason for this first screening in Hanover seems to have been the Lissitzky’s contacts at the Kestner Gesellschaft, the city art gallery founded in 1916 to promote modern art2. Sophie Küppers-Lissitzky came from Hanover and her first husband had been the director of the gallery for many years3.

1Hanover City portal and Hochhaus-Lichtspiele website. ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, p. 262, describes the film ‘being projected into the dome of the planetarium’ but this seems unlikely and a misinterpretation of the location.

2‘Hannover in 3 Tagen: ein kurzweiliger Kulturführer’, Peter Struck, Schlütersche, 2008.

3‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, p. 262.

Announcement in the Hannoverscher Anzeiger on 1st June 1929 advertising the screening of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ in the Planetarium on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th June, at 8:20pm. ‘As well as this film Vertov will show other work. Vertov will also personally speak about his creative endeavours’. [courtesy of ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, ref: Pr De 005].

During his second European trip Dziga Vertov had also been invited to give a talk at the Kulturfilmbühne on the 7th and 8th October 1931 about his first sound film ‘Enthusiasm: the Donbas Symphony’ but this had to be cancelled after the film was banned in Germany on October 5th [‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, letter ref: B013].

Vertov also gave talks about the film and Kino Eye to audiences in Berlin, Munich1, and Frankfurt2. Germany was the centre for film production and photographic manufacturing in Europe at that time, and the giant UFA Studios in Berlin were the most advanced in the world. This made the city the most important venue for a screening of ‘Man with a Movie Camera‘ during the tour.

1 ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, p. 35 & pl. 19.

2‘Lines of Resistance’ chap. 28, p. 378.


Following the film’s showing at ‘Film und Foto’ and Hanover the Berlin premiere of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was on the 2nd July at the Marmorhaus cinema (named because of the marble facade) on Kurfürstendamm. Built in 1912 on the most prestigious avenue in the city it was often the venue for the first screening of new films, including ‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’ [1920] and ‘The Head of Janus’ [1920], the interior designed by the Expressionist painter and set designer César Klein making it a suitable location for both. Dziga Vertov also gave a talk at the venue on the day of the premiere1.

1‘Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, ref: Pr De 053.1.

A much better advertisement for the film than the Soviet papers could manage in the 29th June edition of Film Kurier [courtesy of ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, ref. Pr De 049.IV].

The advertisement of the premiere of ‘Der Mann mit der Kamera’ at the Marmorhaus Cinema in the 2nd July 1929 edition of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. Performances at 7:15 and 9:15.

The film was at the Marmorhaus for a week, replaced on the 9th July by another Soviet film premiere, Vsevolod Pudovkin’s ‘Storm over Asia’ (the film that occupied Goskino No.1 Cinema in Kyiv during the screening of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ back in January!).

The Marmorhaus Cinema in 1952 (I cannot find any suitable contemporary views of the building).

Interiors of the cinema (unknown date). [photographs: Oleg Andreev]

Another superb poster for the film, designed by Julius Kupfer-Sachs, showing the cameraman on a motorcycle speeding through an Expressionist city. According to a stamp on the poster it was approved by the Berlin film censors on the 24th June 1929, a week before the premiere [source: Austrian Film Museum Collection].

It seems Dziga Vertov may have designed a very good photo montage, featuring stills from the film, for promoting it in Germany.


The popular narrative (eg Wikipedia, Senses of Cinema etc) is that ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was poorly received by both critics and the public on its release in the Soviet Union. Sergei Eisenstein’s comment that the film was ‘pointless camera hooliganism’ is well known. The reality was largely the opposite, typified by the first, very enthusiastic, review of the film by Mykola Ushakov written after a pre-release screening in Kyiv. After the first rather modest announcements in the local papers VUFKU obviously thought the public reaction to the film made it worthwhile to commission a poster (and a second) from the leading designers of the era, the Stenberg brothers, and have 12,000 of it printed. As noted above the Moscow screening was counted a success by critics, who complained the film was taken off too soon.

The principal reference to writings by and about Dziga Vertov is ‘Lines of Resistance: Dziga Vertov and the Twenties’ (edited by Yuri Tsivian with translations by Julian Graffy and research by Aleksandr Deriabin, published by Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, 2004) which includes contemporary articles and reviews of the film in the Soviet Union and the West. The majority of these are very positive about the film and its director.



Transcribed from:

Пролетарська правда. – 1928. – 21 грудня.

Культура й мистецтво

«Людина з кіно-апаратом»

Виробництво ВУФКУ 1928 року, автор-керівник – Дзига Вертов, голов. опер. М. Кауфман, асист. на монтажі Є. Свілова.

“Майстер іде вперед, а кайдани маніфестів тягнуться за ним.

Вертов, як і перше, говорить про життя, як його сприймає кіно-апарат. Він каже, що доданки цих сприйнять не міняють загальної суми. Але в мистецтві, а те, що робить Вертов, звичайно мистецтво, від переміни додаників сума цілком міняється. Отже ціла картина вже не життя, яким його бачить кіно-апарат, – це життя, що його створив монтаж Вертова та його групи.

Кайдани маніфестів тягнуться за майстром.

Вертов іде вперед.

«6-та частина світу» трималася на гіперболі написів, але самі держторгівські маштаби від полярного песця до виноградників говорили за себе. Ту саму гіперболу тітрів маємо й у «Одинадцятому». З погляду розгортання гіперболи «Одинадцятий» виявив себе, як провал, бо віддалення від Донбасу до Київа це не віддалення від Нової Землі до Криму. Шаленим монтажем Вертов хотів підмінити природній простір і зовсім не гіперболічну індустрію. Сталася невідповідність між бідністю й малими маштабами матеріялу та між темпом.

«Одинадцятий» міг би бути тільки, як частина «6-ої частини світу», але окремо він мав бути, бо без нього не було-б нової картини Вертова «Людина з кіно-апаратом». «Одинадцятий» з погляду монтажу був уже готуванням до нового надзвичайного вертівського фільму.

Говорити про мистецтво за-для мистецтва й про мистецтво тенденційне – це безглуздя. Великий майстер, працюючи над твором за-для мистецтва, створює шедевр великої громадської ваги. «Одинадцятому» куди до шедевру. Хоч тему мав і ювілейну, проте він дуже часто не підносився вище за монтажний орнамент, за-для монтажного орнаменту.

Те само могло трапитися й з новою вертовою картиною, коли-б у ній за головну дійову особу не була людина, оператор, Фігаро кінематографії, що прокидається вдосвіда й працює на повітрі, під водою й землею, що відбігає з рейок саме тоді, коли поїзд уже мав його розчавити, що повстав з-під ніг одеських рикш і із шклянки пива.

Цей оператор схоплює те життя людей і речей, яке ми бачимо, але не сприймаємо.

Дюамель в одному свому нарисі скаржиться, що люди, приходячи до шпиталю, дивуються з вилиску нікелю та білої фарби, але не бачать самої сути – страждання.

Гоголь, Достоєвський відкрили нам дух Санкт-Петербургу, Анатоль Франс – дух Парижу. Німецькі кінематографісти, що здіймали «Симфонію великого міста», чесно зареєстрували одну добу Берліну. Ми дізналися, що робить берлінець о 5-й, о 6-й, о 9-й год. ранку, о-півдня, після служби і о-півночі. Але дух Берліну був не розкритий. У Вертова немає певного міста й зовсім не важно, що «поштові скриньки» з київських вулиць монтують разом із Кузнецькнм мостом. Вертов не реєструє просто вияви міського життя, нещасні випадки, смерть, народження, спочинок, то-що. Але в своїй разючій грі темпами, то роблячи 5 хвнл. на хвилину, то висаджуючи час, вимикнувши життя, подає дух сучасного міста взагалі, міста не такого, як його бачить кіно-апарат, а своєрідного міста, що його викрили Вертов, його асистенти та оператор.

Вертов, підносячись над самим експериментом, подає своєрідну філософію міста.

Коли-б це місто було тільки місто, що його побачив кіно-апарат, то, звісно, не було-б великої різниці між «Парижем у-ві сні», «Симфонією великого міста» і містом із «Людини з кіно-апаратом». Хоч є зовнішні спільні моменти (велосипед у вітрині, поїзд і нещасний випадок із «Симфонії великого міста», і зупинка юрби в «Парижу у-ві сні»), проте ці три картини а-ні трохи неподібні.

Говоримо про це тільки для того, щоб Вертов не так уже цінував свої кайдани.

Сам Дзига Вертов називає свій фільм тільки експериментом. Можливо, це зайва скромність. «Людина з кіно-апаратом» майже виходить по-за межі лабораторних шукань. Це правдива картина, що хвилює не тільки свіжістю поглядів на матеріял, що хвилює не тільки своїми формальними досягненнями а й своєю тематичною глибиною.

Багато режисерів СРСР і за кордоном вихоплюватимуть з неї матеріял частинами, десятки і сотні молодих кіноробітників будуть з неї вчитися фотогенії, трактування натури, монтажу й операторського мистецтва.

ВУФКУ судилося дати світовій кінематографії новий шедевр. Хай же ВУФКУ використає його й забезпечить Вертову дальшу можливість так експериментувати.

Ці експерименти стануть гордістю української кінематографії.”

Н. У.

Proletarian Truth – 1928. – December 21.


“Man with a movie camera”

Production of VUFKU, 1928, author-supervisor – Dziga Vertov, head cameraman M. Kaufman, editing assistant E. Svilova.

“The master marches ahead, dragging along the shackles of his manifestos.

Vertov, as before, talks about life as it is perceived by the film camera. He says that the terms of these perceptions do not change the thing in its entirety. But in art, and what Vertov does is, of course, art, the change of terms completely changes the whole. So the whole picture is no longer life as the film camera sees it, – it is life created by the editing of Vertov and his group.

The shackles of the manifestos follow the master.

Vertov goes forward.

A Sixth Part of the World was based on the hyperbole in the intertitles, but the very scale of state trade from polar foxes to vineyards spoke for itself. We have the same hyperbolic intertitles in The Eleventh Year. From the point of view of the deployment of hyperbole, The Eleventh Year proved to be a failure, because the distance from Donbass to Kyiv is not the distance from Novaya Zemlia to the Crimea. Vertov wanted to replace natural space and absolutely not hyperbolic industry with crazy editing. There is a mismatch between the poverty and small scale of the material and the pace of the film.

The Eleventh Year could just have been a part of A Sixth Part of the World but it had to be separate, because without it there would not have been Vertov’s new picture, Man with a Movie Camera. In terms of editing The Eleventh Year was already a preparation for Vertov’s extraordinary new film.

Talking about art for art’s sake and tendentious art is nonsense. A great master, working on a work for art’s sake, has created a masterpiece of great civic importance. The Eleventh Year is far from a masterpiece. Although it had a jubilee theme, it often did not rise above montage ornament for the sake of montage ornament.

The same could have happened with Vertov’s new picture, were it not for the fact that the main character was a man, a cameraman, a Figaro of cinema, waking up before dawn and working in the air, under water and underground, running from the rails just when a train might have crushed him, rising from under the feet of Odesa rickshaws and from a glass of beer.

This cameraman captures the lives of people and things that we see but do not perceive.

In one of his essays, Duhamel complains that when people come to a hospital they are surprised by the shine of the nickel and white paint, but do not see the essence – suffering.

Gogol, Dostoevsky revealed to us the spirit of St. Petersburg, Anatole France – the spirit of Paris. The German filmmakers who filmed The Symphony of a Great City honestly recorded one day in Berlin. We learned what a Berliner does at 5 o’clock, at 6 o’clock, at 9 o’clock in the morning, at noon, after work and at midnight. But the spirit of Berlin was not revealed. Vertov does not have a specific city, and it does not matter at all that “mailboxes” from the streets of Kyiv are edited together with Kuznetskii Most Street in Moscow. Vertov does not simply register the events of city life, accidents, deaths, births, rest, etc. Rather, in his striking game with tempo, he either turns five minutes into one, or he ousts the sense of time, switching life off, giving the spirit of the modern city in general, a city not as seen by the film camera, but as revealed by Vertov, his assistants and cameraman.

Vertov, rising above the experiment itself, presents a kind of philosophy of the city.

If this city was just a city seen by a movie camera, then, of course, there would be no big difference between Paris qui dort, The Symphony of a Great City and the city in Man with a Movie Camera. Although there are external commonalities (a bicycle in a shop window, a train and an accident from the The Symphony of a Great City, and a crowd coming to a stop in Paris qui dort) these three pictures are totally different.

We are talking about this only so that Vertov will not value his shackles so highly.

Dziga Vertov himself calls his film only an experiment. Perhaps this is excessive modesty. Man with a Movie Camera almost goes beyond the scope of laboratory research. This is a truthful picture, which excites not only by the freshness of its view of the material, not only by its formal achievements but also by its thematic depth.

Many directors in the USSR and abroad will extract material from it in parts, and dozens and hundreds of young filmmakers will learn from it photogeny, interpretation of nature, editing and cinematographic art.

VUFKU is destined to give world cinema a new masterpiece. Let VUFKU use it to provide Vertov with a further opportunity to experiment in this way.

These experiments will become the pride of Ukrainian cinema.”

N. U.

I am very grateful to Julian Graffy, Emeritus Professor of Russian Literature and Cinema at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, and Tom and Roksolyana Lasica for editing the translation of Mykola Ushakov’s remarkable review of the film.


‘The Hero of the Film is the Camera’ (‘Lines of Resistance’, chap. 24, p. 339)

‘Kino’ #2, Moscow, 8th January 1929, page 3. E[zra] Vilensky

In an appreciative review, the day after the Kyiv premiere, Vilensky notes that the ‘film aroused heated debate in Kharkov and Kiev*. It is a long time since film production has delivered such sharp material. It is a long time since the Ukrainian public was so agitated’. He fears that ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ will suffer the fate of the majority of non-fiction films and insists that ‘we must not allow it to lie on a shelf until some unspecified time. The centre of the cinematic life of the USSR, Moscow, must see this film as quickly as possible’.

*This is presumably referring to the pre-release screenings and discussions recorded in the minutes dated 7th November 1928 in the RGALI Vertov archive, and noted in Professor MacKay’s paper at the beginning of the post.

‘So What is the Matter?! Once again about Man with a Movie camera’ (‘Lines of Resistance’, chap. 25, p. 350).

‘Kino’ #17, Moscow, 23rd April 1929, page 3

The anonymous author repeats much of Konstantin Feldman’s comments in Vecherniaia Moskva asking readers to recall the ‘heated struggle between the public and the film exhibition organisers which had to take place before the release of “Man with a Movie Camera”….The public won a partial victory. On the 9th April the film began a run on the screens of two central cinemas, the Hermitage and 46 Tverskaia Street. The first week of the run showed that the fears of the cinema businessmen were completely unfounded. In material terms ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ did normal box-office: at the Hermitage it was higher than average (more than 4,000 roubles in a week), and at the Tverskaia it was average (over 7,000 roubles). If you bear in mind that this is a non-fiction, experimental film, which the viewer is not used to and may even find difficult to take in, then these figures would seem to provide evidence of a great victory for our cinema: they reveal the heightened cultural demands of our viewers, and in consequence the film should continue to be shown.’ However, the author complains that, despite this commercial success and protests from the public and press, ‘after a single week “Man with a Movie Camera” made way on the screens of the Hermitage and 46 Tverskaia Street for such an obviously philistine film as “Grandma’s Boy”, with Harold Lloyd.’

I would like to thank Professor Julian Graffy for providing the pages with the original articles.


The 1st April 1929 edition of the influential design magazine Die Form, produced by the Deutscher Werkbund, included a preview of the Film und Foto exhibition featuring ‘Man with a Movie Camera’. Translation of the article below.


In Moscow a new film “Man with a Movie Camera” was recently previewed. The film, which takes simple everyday life by surprise and records it dynamically, was created by the young Russian film artist Dsiga Werthoff without actors, without any scenario and completely without intertitles. Hot, pulsating life, which seems to jump out at the viewer, is not only seen anew and given new forms by the film, it is experienced anew and is turned into a cinematic work of art without any literary or theatrical pathos. This is why this film can neither be told nor described in any way, it speaks its own language, which is derived from the possibilities of cinema. He shows us the facts – seen through the lens of the camera – from a different angle than we are used to seeing them.

The film made a strong impression on all viewers, who were composed of experts in the art of film and from literature, theatre and art circles.

Dsiga Werthoff’s film will also be presented to the public for discussion in Germany, for the first time, as part of the international Werkbund Exhibition “Film und Foto” in Stuttgart. As is well known, this exhibition aims to address all of the important issues of film and photography by showing demonstrations and lectures in order to encourage progress in these areas.

In addition to the new film by Werthoff, other previously unpublished films will also be premiered in Stuttgart. Individual directors and cinematographers intend to put together short instruction films especially for this exhibition, which should give an insight into their theories, working methods, and editing. Shorter published films by Pudowkin, Eisenstein, Schub and new cultural films from Russia will also be shown.’

Die Form, issue 7, 1st April 1929

Vertov’s friend, Sophie Küppers (-Lissitzky) wrote an article in praise of the film in the May 1929 edition of the influential art journal Das Kunstblatt, ‘Schaut das Leben durch das Kino Auge Dsiga Werthoffs’ (‘Look at Life through Dziga Vertov’s Kino-Eye’). In one of the most thoughtful reviews of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ she gets right to the heart of the film: ‘..But life here is not only observed and fixed. It is experienced – formed deeply and chastely, and with a heart burning with poetry. Never before was womankind shown with such restraint, never before has the martyrdom of birth in art revealed itself as a drama of a few seconds. The whole range of human emotions is touched upon – quietly and with great dignity…Vertov’s optical tricks catch us unawares – if he has mystified us, so in the next moment he will laughingly explain his trick to us. Even as the wild chaos of the street is barely no longer whirring before us, he already shows us the assistant at her laborious editing work.

She concludes: ‘Vertov has received complete appreciation and enthusiastic acclaim from all progressive-minded people. His valiant co-workers loyally support him in his struggle for his work. A new language has truly been created, that cannot be imparted by any other communications medium other than the cinema apparatus. No written history, no verbal poetry, and no image will be able to give the following generations a truer testimony of the experience of life in our time than these film records of Dziga Vertov. Through his instrument he has rythmatized seeing; seeing resounds; the theatre broke into pieces – what we experience through him is only – REALITY.

[Excerpt from ‘Lines of Resistance’, chap. 26, pp. 359-360. Translation by Oliver Gayken]

The following Berlin newspaper extracts are difficult to read so there is a link to each article via the newspaper title under each review.

A review in the 12th June edition of Berliner Volks-Zeitung of a ‘poorly attended’ lecture about ‘Kino-Eye’ given by Dziga Vertov on the 9th to the National Association of Film Art in the Phoebus Theatre, Berlin. The reviewer (Franze Schnitzer – see below) wrote that the lecture was too technical for the audience and best suited to ‘experts in a cameraman’s club’. He thought that ‘what some samples from Werthow’s montage showed was, in a certain sense, a refined Ruttmann film. “Symphony of a Great City” only depicted the outward appearance of the big city, the Russians, as always, take convincing and politically oriented pictures, and also depict something like the people’s soul. Werthow is a fanatical fan of the candid film. One of these, “The Man with the Movie Camera”, will soon be showing in Berlin.’

The day after the premiere a small notification of the film’s release by Derussa* appeared in the 3rd July edition of Berliner Volks-Zeitung.

*The German-Russian Film Alliance

‘The first full-length, complete film by the Russian film art association “Kino-Eye” is now being released by Derussa. Direction and Montage: Werthoff’.

A review in the Berlin Communist newspaper ‘Die Rote Fahne’ (The Red Flag) on Friday 5th July. Difficult to read even in the original because of the ‘Faktur’ black type, it concludes that the film is ‘very interesting artistically, with masterful montage and camerawork, but overflowing with details and without a continuous rythm. Ruttmann’s film “Symphony of a Great City” is more economical than this Werthoff film. Werthoff’s path with “The Man with the Camera” deviates from the real tasks of Russian “Cinema Eyes”.’

A review of ‘Der Mann mit der Kamera’ in the Saturday 6th July edition of Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (unfortunately difficult to read even in the original as it is typeset in Fraktur black letter script). DAZ was one of the principal German newspapers.

A mixed review that rather misses the point of the film in the 10th July edition of Berliner Volks-Zeitung (translation below). The misplaced photograph of the star of ‘Sweet and Sinful’ illustrating the piece would have also irritated Dziga Vertov I imagine!

The Man with the Camera
In the Marmorhaus

‘Wertoff’s film culture and the goals of the Russian film group Kino Eye have already been discussed by this writer a few weeks ago1. At that time one had only seen excerpts from the “Man with the Movie Camera”, a documentary and a film with no intertitles that resembles Ruttmann’s “Symphony of a City”.  There is no actual content to be seen here.  The eye of the spectator experiences a city and its inhabitants, people who work, play sports, join committees, have children, mourn their dead, get divorced, work again, rush through the city, and have their fun and their sorrows.  The man with the camera is everywhere.  At the wedding, at the divorce, when having children, in the cemetery, when there is a fire and everywhere and all the time.  He turns, turns, turns.  He records the reality and then goes into the editing room and glues together a wonderful song out of it.  The hymn of a city, Werthoff’s pictorial song, begins with an andante and ends with a magnificent furioso, which is brilliantly assembled, but which will not be of interest to a non-literary audience or a viewer unfamiliar with the French absolutists and the birth of the avant-garde.

The film runs without intertitles.  For the German provinces and for the many smaller cinemas (even in Berlin) this is a catastrophe.  In the Marmorhaus the excellent accompaniment music by Schmidt-Boelke2 [sic] was played now and then to the audience so that the various scenes could be distinguished and understood.  But in a smaller cinema with only a gramophone or an organ or a man with a violin – what will the audience do?

Werthoff’s picture is a treat for film professionals. All weekly newsreel cameramen should watch it.  You can learn from him.  But the film is too long.  You can’t watch the weekly news for two hours3. What is very nice, however, is that Werthoff understands how to explain film as a craft over and over again, in close relation to the following scene. Rather like a table of contents.  You can see a film editor arranging and sticking different film strips together, spooling and rolling them.

It is all very beautiful, and it should be acknowledged that this film is worth seeing and a great artistic achievement, despite some foolish antics. But …. what will the audience outside of the area around the Memorial Church4 have to say about this series of pictures?  It is a muddle, from the tram to the railway, from work in the factory to people on the street.  The housewives are tired of worrying about their children, of doing housework, and of the whole week.  And now you sit in “your cinema” and see nothing but the tram, factory work, housework, children and all the excruciating hustle and bustle of everyday life.  In addition, an untrained eye may not be able to cope with the terrific rhythm of the sequence of images. Also about the film see the last paragraph of the article on this page “Cinema of the Workshop”‘.  F.S. (Franze Schnitzer)

Paragraph referred to:

‘Every now and then, however, a local theatre owner sets his ambition aside and plays one of those much-praised films often referred to as “art films”. For example, a now much-celebrated Russian film. And what does he have to listen to from his very candid audience? “Man, it looks as though I’m looking at the Kurfürstendamm through your bandy legs!”*’ Franze Schnitzer.

*An odd phrase in Berlin dialect.

1See above for Schnitzer’s 12th June review of Dziga Vertov’s Berlin talk (this may have been one of the articles that Dziga Vertov was complaining about below, although it only mentions Ruttmann).

2Werner Schmidt-Boelcke (1903-1985) was a German conductor and composer of film music.

3An exaggeration. The film is around 1 hour and six minutes long, similar to Ruttmann’s film.

4The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is at one end of the Kurfürstendamm.

Dziga Vertov complained in a long letter to the Frankfurter Zeitung (written from Berlin on the 8th July, but not to a Berlin newspaper for some reason) that ‘one segment of the Berlin press’ had made the accusation that ‘…Kino Eye essentially represents a “fanatical” continuation of the principles and practices carried on by a certain Blum (in the film “In the Shadow of the Machine”)1 and Ruttmann (Berlin, “Symphony of a Big City”), both of whom are unknown to me’. Albrecht Blum had lifted parts of ‘The Eleventh Year’ for his 1928 film2, and Walter Ruttmann did acknowledge the influence of Vertov’s theories. There is a long, generally favourable review by Siegfried Kracauer in the Frankfurter Zeitung of 19th May3 so perhaps Vertov thought he would find a readership sympathetic to his letter in this newspaper. Most reviews of the film in the Berlin press were positive (many making reasonable comparisons with Ruttmann’s film) but he could have taken offence at a very critical one in the 3rd July issue of ‘Kinematograph’ which concluded that ‘Vertov had nothing new to offer and could no longer surprise the audience, since Ruttmann and others had already used the same techniques’.

Letter excerpt from ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, p. 221.

1The reference to Blum was removed from the published letter [‘Lines of Resistance’, chap. 28, fn. 16].

2 ‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, p. 221

Vertov also explained his film and complained about Blum in an interview included in ‘Lines of Resistance’ [chap. 26, pp. 366-367].

Chapter 28 in ‘Lines of Resistance’ has more on ‘Vertov versus Blum’. Chapter 29 has more on Vertov and Ruttmann.

3‘Lines of Resistance’, chap. 26, pp. 355-359.


[1] An article in ‘Proletars’ka Pravda’ on the 12th January 1929 entitled ‘Gravediggers from VUFKU’ by Mykola Yatko (1903-1968) who was a screenwriter and journalist, and had worked for VUFKU in Kyiv and the Odesa Film Studio. His article was sharply critical of VUFKU’s distribution policy that he thought favoured ‘box office hits’ at the expense of real works of art. He cites the poor advertising of the current screening of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ in Kyiv as an example. Looking at the paltry announcements for the film in the newspapers he had a point.

‘…Преса кричить про «Арсенал», а прокатники тільки всього виставили в 1-му кіні скромну дошку з світлинами «Арсеналу», а праворуч од неї пишний плакат «Мулен-Ружд» з голими ніжками танцюристок. «Людину з кіно-апаратом» без жодної об’яви (принаймні в Київі), без
жодного плакату пускають без підготовки в другорядному кіні…Наша й московська преса присвятила докладні статті «Людині з кіно-апаратом», громадський перегляд одностайно привітав ВУФКУ з новим досягненням, вирішено було всіляко сприяти й популяризувати в
масах «Людину з кіно-апаратом», а прокат просто всупереч логіці просто свідомо закопує кращий радянський фільм…’

‘…The press is shouting about “Arsenal”, but the distributors only put up a modest board with photos of “Arsenal” in the First Cinema1, but to the right of it is a magnificent poster of “Moulin Rouge” with the bare legs of dancers. “Man with a Movie Camera” is allowed to go ahead without any advertisement (at least in Kyiv), without any poster, and without any preparation in a second-rank cinema…Our and the Moscow press devoted detailed articles to “Man with a Movie Camera”, the public review2 unanimously congratulated VUFKU on the new achievement, and it was decided to promote and popularise “Man with the Movie Camera” among the masses, but the exhibitors, contrary to logic, simply deliberately buried the best Soviet film…’

1Goskino No. 1

2Julian Graffy suggests this could also mean ‘public reception’. Perhaps this is referring to another pre-release December screening at the VUFKU studios to which the public were invited, or the same one that Mykola Ushakov attended? The Dovzhenko Centre has no information about this.

[2] Mykhailo Kalnytsky suggests that ‘N.U.’ is the renowned Kyiv poet and cultural figure Mykola Mykolayovich Ushakov (1899-1973) who sometimes used these initials (for the Russian version of his name, Nikolai Ushakov). Professor Yuri Tsivian has read the review and says that it is clearly by Ushakov as it is similar in style to his book ‘Tri Operaturi’ (‘Three Cinematographers’, 1930).

Fair Use claimed for any copyright material as it is copied solely for research purposes and commentary only, without financial gain. Attribution and links given where known. Contemporary Soviet photographs are generally in the public domain.

I have added links to other websites and information to enhance the value of this post and although I have taken reasonable steps to ensure that they are reputable, I am unable to accept responsibility for any viruses and malware arising from these links.

The screenshots are from a version of the film posted on YouTube by a Ukrainian source AVG which is no longer available. The screenshot times [hr:min:sec] are from the Lobster Films/Eye Institute 2014 restoration of the film.

Pravda announcements extracted from the East West Pravda Digital Archive.

Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and Berliner Film-Zeitung newspaper announcements and reviews extracted from the ZEFYS digital archive of the Berlin State Library.

‘Lines of Resistance: Dziga Vertov and the Twenties’, edited by Yuri Tsivian with translations by Julian Graffy and research by Aleksandr Deriabin, published by Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, 2004.

‘The Vertov Collection at the Austrian Film Museum’, ed. Thomas Tode & Barbara Wurm, SYNEMA, 2006. There is online access to the collection, which includes many more newspaper articles and announcements.

For information on the shooting schedule and details of the film locations see my blog post Man with a Movie Camera: the film locations.

Please contact me on opinionated.designer@gmail.com with any comments and corrections.

Richard Bossons, Oxford, September 2020.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (not mentioned above)

I would like to thank the following for their invaluable help and information, and patience in answering many questions. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of anything in this blog post. Any errors and omissions are entirely mine.

I am indebted to my collaborator in Kyiv, the renowned historian of the city, Mykhailo Kalnytsky, for finding the Kyiv and Kharkiv announcements, the first review of the film, and the Mykola Yatko article. The photograph of the Goskino No. 2 Cinema is also from Mr Kalnytsky.

Professor Julian Graffy, for his invaluable comments, corrections, and information, and for his contributions also acknowledged in the text.

Anna Onufriienko, Senior Curator and Research Scholar at the Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre in Kyiv, for providing the extracts from the VUFKU minutes, the Ukrainian poster, and other vital information.

VUFKU minutes from ‘Minutes of the VUFKU Board (1922-1930)’, compiled by Roman Roslyak, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Rylsky Institute of Art Studies, Folklore & Ethnology, Kyiv. Lyra-K Publishing House, 2017.

Alyna Fedorovich, Chief Curator, Museum of Moscow, for information on the Hermitage Theatre.

Konstantin Dubin, Head of Department, Kharkiv Historical Museum, for information and photographs of the K. Liebnecht Cinema in the city.

Ukrainian and Russian translations, not otherwise credited, by Tatiana Kovaleva.

German translations by me and TextMaster.

FOR AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS POST PLEASE GO TO: richardbossons.academia.edu/research




Posted in Camera, Cameras, Cinema, Constructivism, Design, Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, Photography, silent film, Soviet film, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the first cinema screening

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the film locations

images-w14001929 poster for the film by the Stenberg brothers

‘We leave the film studio for life, for that whirlpool of colliding visible phenomena, where everything is real, where people, tramways, motorcycles, and trains meet and part, where each bus follows its route, where cars scurry about their business, where smiles, tears, deaths, and taxes do not obey the director’s megaphone…’

Dziga Vertov, diary entry 20th March 1927

Vertov’s words anticipate his 1929 experimental masterpiece ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ [Человек с кино аппаратом, Chelovek s kino apparatom (R), Людина з кіноапаратом, Lyudyna z kinoaparatom (U)] which, along with Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’, must be the most influential of all Soviet films. Acclaimed by many reviewers on its release, and popular with Soviet cinemagoers, the film fell out of favour along with its director in the 1930s and was neglected for decades. It is now a staple of film studies courses and academic papers, and it was voted one of the ten best films in cinematic history by BFI ‘Sight & Sound’ readers, and the best documentary ever made. 

However, it was not meant to be a documentary in the conventional terms of a 1920s ‘City Symphony’, such as Paul Strand’s on New York (‘Manhatta’, 1921), or Walter Ruttmann’s on Berlin (‘Berlin: Symphony of a Great City’, 1927). On the face of it the film portrays a cameraman’s journey around an unnamed Soviet city recording its life during one day. However, the pioneering special effects and rapid montage sequences, the extensive use of Lev Kuleshov’s theory of ‘Creative Geography’ (where different locations are edited together to portray a single place), the idea of showing the process of film-making, the beautiful cinematography, and the joyful humanity that is portrayed, lift it beyond mere documentary to the level of great art. Watching ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ is still a thrilling experience over 90 years after it was made, whereas other ‘City Symphonies’ of this period look very much of their time.

This blog post assumes a knowledge of the film, and for those readers who are unfamiliar with this masterpiece a previous blog post ‘Man with a Movie Camera: the movie cameras‘ has an extensive bibliography. Professor John MacKay of Yale University, Vertov’s biographer, has written an invaluable Introduction to the film, available to read on Academia. I can also recommend one of the most perceptive reviews of the film by the renowned US critic Roger Ebert. Unfortunately there is no longer a good quality version of the film on YouTube.

A large part of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was shot during 1928 in Moscow, Kyiv, and Odesa. Vertov had been hired by VUFKU (the All-Ukrainian Photo-Cinema Directorate, in Kyiv) in 1927 after being sacked from Sovkino, the Russian equivalent, for being over budget on his film ‘A Sixth Part of the World’ (1926), and for refusing to present a script for ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (which he had no intention of writing). His first commission from VUFKU in 1927 was ‘The Eleventh Year’, a short propaganda film about the development of the electricity industry as part of the young Soviet Union’s drive to develop the backward country (ahead of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan which began in 1928). It was clear that Dziga Vertov was already planning ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ as several of the sequences for the latter were shot at the same time as those for ‘The Eleventh Year’ (with a Debrie Parvo Model K 35mm hand-cranked camera, not the later Model L used on MwaMC – see my blog post on the cameras in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’). Professor MacKay has also seen notes to suggest footage for MwaMC was filmed at the same time as ‘One Sixth of the World’, but it seems that none of this footage was included in the later film.

As with his previous films, Dziga Vertov worked with his wife Elizaveta Svilova as editor, and his brother Mikhail Kaufman as cinematographer*, calling themselves in Soviet style ‘The Council of Three’. For obvious reasons Kaufman, as the eponymous ‘Man with the Movie Camera’, was being filmed by others, whose superb work is seldom credited, not least on the original film titles! Professor MacKay notes in his Academia paper (footnote #22) that the other cameramen whose footage was used on MwaMC (including that taken during ‘The Eleventh Year’) were: Boris Tseitlin, Konstantin Kuliaev, and Georgii Nikolaevich Khimchenko. In Dziga Vertov’s diary entry of June 22nd 1927 written in Zaporozh’e during the filming of ‘The Eleventh Year’, he mentions two other members of the crew ‘Kagarlitsky’ and ‘Barantsevich’, presumably one or both behind the camera shooting Mikhail Kaufman in the mine sequences.

*Mikhail Kaufman’s creative contribution to this and earlier films is increasingly recognised (eg the excellent essays about him in the Dovzhenko Centre’s recent book, ‘Ukrainian Dilogy’ 2018).

I decided to research and write this post as there seems to be a good deal of confusion in many published commentaries on the film about where it was shot. As ‘Creative Geography’ is a key part of the ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ I thought it would be both useful and enjoyable to establish exactly where the different scenes were filmed, the location’s appearance at the time, and the present. Many of the locations were already well known and much of the rest has been tracked down; the few elusive ones are included in the hope that a reader of the post familiar with the three cities may recognise them. By following the screenshots in the order they appear in the film you get a real sense of the extraordinary creative and editing process that links so many diverse locations and periods into one vision of a city throughout a single day. Also clearly evident is a fine appreciation of architecture and the urban (and industrial) landscape.


The locations and schedule for both films have been published in academic papers (JSTOR & Academia) by Professor MacKay, gleaned from Vertov’s notes in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) summarised (by me) as follows:

The Eleventh Year’ (1927)

Moscow to the Volkhov dam (near Leningrad) in June 1927; then to the Ukrainian sites of Kharkiv at the end of June and beginning of July, the Kamenskoe (Kamianske) Iron Foundry (on the Dnieper River) in July and August[1] and the Donbas industrial region[2] in August. There was a visit to the under construction Dnieper Hydroelectric Station during September, and then to Kyiv[3] for the tenth anniversary celebrations of the October Revolution. The film crew also went to Odesa and the Romanian border but the exact dates of these visits are not known.

[1] Vertov’s notes seem to be incorrect as his diary entry of June 22nd 1927 describes ‘completing our filming of the Dzerzhinsky plant’ (the iron foundry in Kamianske). The diary entry was written at Zaporozh’e (Zaporizhia) the city where the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station is located where, presumably, the film crew was staying during filming there, so the September date for this looks wrong as well. He also writes about filming underground in a mine so the August date for the Donbas also looks incorrect as there are no mines in Kamianske or Zaporizhia.

[2] The mines, coke ovens, and steelworks of Rutchenkovo and Lidievka around the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine. The city, originally named Hughesovka after the Welsh businessman who started the Russian steel industry, was known as Stalin at the time of the film.

[3] The sequence showing this in the film appears to be in Sovetskaya (now Tverskaya) Square, Moscow (the obelisk Monument to the Soviet Constitution in that square is clearly visible).

There seems to be uncertainty around the locations, dates, and members of the film crew for ‘The Eleventh Year’ which would merit further investigation!

‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (1928)

The new footage for ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was shot from early June to the middle of September 1928: Moscow in June, Odesa in June and July, Kyiv in July and August, Kharkiv* in August, and another visit to Kyiv at the end of August to mid September.

*Only one scene in the film (the aircraft hangar [00:13:26]) has been located in Kharkiv (unless one of the few unverified locations was shot there). Mr Dubin, of the Kharkiv Historical Museum, has viewed the film carefully and cannot see any other locations in the city. 

I have queries about some of these dates as the clothing worn in the relevant sequences does not seem to tie in with the time of year stated. For example the filming in Moscow took place in June, a warm summer month in the city, but people in the scenes are often wearing coats [00:20:16]. Filming in Kyiv was apparently done in the summer and early autumn as well but the audience in the cinema is wearing winter clothes [00:03:42] [00:04:01]. As Vertov was based in Kyiv this footage could have been taken later. A short article in the Kyiv monthly journal Kino No. 11, November 1928, mentions that ‘filming is almost finished’, long after the dates in the notes.

r0310_009aLocation map (see end of blog post for detailed maps of cities). Illustration to ‘The Riddle of Russia’ by Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, published in the Daily Telegraph on 31 January 1929 (courtesy of Warwick University). My annotations in red. 


MOSCOW: Kuznetsky Most, Bolshoi Theatre, Theatre and Revolution Squares, Teatral’nyy Proyezd, Okhotny Ryad, Tverskaya, Strastnaya Square, *Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, *Novo-Sukharevsky Market.

KYIV: Khreschatyk (including cinema) & Velyka Vasylkivska Street, Sofiys’ka Square & Volodymyrska Street, Park Bridge, Strilets’ka & Reitarska Streets, Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard & Kominterna Street, Ginzburg Skyscraper, Palace Hotel, *Tobacco Factory, *Red Stadium (netball), *Lenin Club, Halytska Square.

ODESA: Prymorskyi Boulevard, Port, Station and Pryvokzal’na Square, Pushkins’ka street, *Tram Depot, *Rosa Luxemburg Street & Fire Station, *Sports Ground, Arcadia Beach, Kuyal’nik Resort.

With the exception of those with a star these were all well known locations, repeated multiple times throughout the film, which would have been familiar to a late 1920s Soviet audience. This makes the extensive use of ‘Creative Geography’ to give the impression of a single city even more significant than it would be to a modern international audience with no knowledge of these places. In Moscow much has changed since the film was made, but most of the locations in Kyiv and Odesa are still recognisable. The scenes in Moscow are particularly poignant, showing a largely unspoilt and beautiful city centre just before the widespread destruction of the 1930s from Stalin’s megalomaniac ‘General Plan for the Reconstruction of Moscow’ (the first major church to be demolished was St Paraskeva on Okhotny Ryad in June 1928 which must have been only a few days after it was filmed).

LOCATIONS WITH LIMITED APPEARANCES (from ‘The Eleventh Year’ filming, 1927).

Similar industrial scenes and the Volkhov Dam also feature in ‘A Sixth Part of the World’ (1926). Chimneys and steelworks are also seen in Mikhail Kaufman’s film ‘Moscow’ (1927).

DONBAS: Rutchenkovo and Lidievka (coal mine, coal yard and gantry, [chimney and blast furnace exterior?]).

KAMIANSKE: Dzerzhinsky steelworks on the Dnieper River. 

VOLKHOV (Leningrad): Hydroelectric Power Plant dam (Волховская ГEС). Similar shots of the dam are also seen in ‘A Sixth Part of the World’ (1926).

Other locations with single appearances noted throughout the post (eg Kharkiv).

There are inconsistencies with translated place names in Russian and Ukrainian, and I have sometimes used the anglicised version (Theatre Square etc). Many are gleaned from Google Earth. I have generally used the Ukrainian spelling of place names in that country. There is also some inconsistency with the names familiar today and those used in 1928, as many streets and squares were re-named several times. I will try to amend errors as the post is updated.


I would like to thank the following for their invaluable help and information, and patience in responding to many questions. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of anything in this blog post. Any errors and omissions are entirely mine.

Iryna Chuzhynova, Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Konstantin Dubin, Kharkiv Historical Museum

Alina Fedorovich, Museum of Moscow

Dr Max Hodgson

Mykhailo Kalnytsky

Professor Catriona Kelly

Professor Robin Milner-Gulland

Anna Onufriienko, Dovzhenko Centre

Dr Denis Romodin, Museum of Moscow

Professor Hanna Vesolovska

Yevgeny Volokin

Professor Martin Williams

I am indebted to Mykhailo Kalnytsky, my collaborator and renowned historian of Kyiv, for sharing his extraordinary knowledge of the city (and elsewhere) which has added so much of interest and value to the post. Mr Kalnytsky has a fascinating online journal on Kyiv, its architecture and inhabitants.  He instigated the naming of a street in the city ‘Dziga Vertov Lane’ as a member of a City Hall commission.

I would also like to mention Dr Romodin (Moscow), and Mr Volokin (Odesa), leading historians of their respective cities, whose detailed knowledge of them solved many puzzles. Yevgeny Volokin has a comprehensive website on Odesa, full of historic information and old photographs. He has also co-authored several albums of historic photographs of the city.

Dziga Vertov’s diary entries of March 20th 1927 (quotation at the top of the post) and of June 22nd 1927 are from ‘Kino-Eye, the writings of Dziga Vertov’, ed. Annette Michelson, Pluto Press, 1984, p. 168.

Google Earth and Google Maps screenshots: Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission.

Contemporary Soviet photographs are generally in the public domain (Russia has a 70 year copyright limit).

Fair Use claimed for any copyright material as it is copied for solely research purposes and commentary only, without financial gain. Attribution and links given where known.

And very grateful thanks to Wikipedia, Google Earth, Google Images, Google Translate, and the Typeit website’s invaluable Russian and Ukrainian keyboards!

I have added many links to other websites and information to enhance the value of this post and although I have taken reasonable steps to ensure that they are reputable, I am unable to accept responsibility for any viruses and malware arising from these links.


Please contact me on opinionated.designer@gmail.com with any comments, criticisms, and corrections. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone with information on the scenes that can’t be located or verified.

Richard Bossons, Oxford,  June 2020


The screenshots are from a version posted on YouTube by a Ukrainian source AVG which is now unavailable. The approximate time of each screenshot is shown as [hr:min:sec] and they have been taken from the 2014 Eye Film Institute/Lobster Films restoration. The high definition restoration of the film has been a revelation for researchers as you can now pick out details never seen before, essential for the work involved in establishing the locations. There is a fascinating Academia paper by Mark-Paul Meyer from the Eye Film Institute about how its restoration work on the film was carried out.

I have been through every shot and many frames of the film to pick out a location of some sort, however brief, and I am fairly confident that most have been covered. Each one verified has either had clear architectural evidence pointing to the exact street or square for example, or has been confirmed by those I have consulted above. The ones I cannot verify or find are noted as such. Most of the minor ones without any clues will never be found. However, I am happy to be corrected as this is the first attempt to establish all of the locations used in ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ which I hope will be useful and add to the enjoyment of watching this wonderful film.

Images not in the film are described in italics.


IMG_4310[00:02:26] Top of the Hotel National, Moscow.

IMG_4811 The original mosaics at the top of this famous hotel, on the corner of Tverskaya and Mokhovaya Street opposite Red Square, are barely visible in the opening frames of Reel 1. They were replaced with the tractor, pylons, and chimneys of the Socialist realist images above when the hotel was restored in 1931. Designed by the architect Alexander Ivanov, the National opened in 1903; after the Revolution the hotel became the seat of the first Soviet government in 1918. Lenin, Trotsky, and Dzerzhinsky all lived in the National at this time. Still a luxury hotel, now owned by the Marriott group. [Photograph by A Savin, Wikimedia Commons].

IMG_4337[00:02:34] Electricity post and street light, Moscow. 

IMG_4591A similar post near to the tram stop pavilion in Strastnaya Square (enlarged from an original photograph courtesy of the Museum of Moscow).

IMG_4312[00:02:41] Goskino No. 1 Cinema (originally Shantser Cinema)Khreschatyk 38, Kyiv.




IMG_4276Note TS on chair =Theater Shantser.

IMG_4377 (2)The spectacular interior of the cinema is largely concealed in the film.

FullSizeRender - 2(3)The balcony needed propping up later as there are two centre posts visible in the film!

FullSizeRender - 8(2)

IMG_202007061823591Views of the Khreschatyk Street entrance to the courtyard of the Belle Vue Hotel where the cinema was located. This block and most of the rest of the street was destroyed in WW2. [top: 1914 view, starkiev.com / bottom: 1920s view, M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_202007181141380AStreet plan showing the cinema behind Khreschatyk 38. The outline of the canopy in the photographs above, and the passage into the courtyard is shown. [M. Kalnytsky]

Anton Shantser (Шанцер, aka Shanzer or Schantzer) was an Austrian citizen of Polish descent and a tailor by trade but noticed an opportunity in the growing cinema business (there had been a film screening in the city by a touring Lumiere operator in 1896). He opened his first, the Express Cinema, on the main boulevard through Kyiv, Khreschatyk, in 1907 (see below), and several others followed. Five years later, in an annexe to the Belle Vue Hotel at Khreschatyk 38, Shantser opened his most luxurious cinema, named after himself. According to the local paper and guests at the opening night in December 1912 this 1,100 seater theatre had a spectacular two storey foyer with velvet curtains and classical columns lit by a large chandelier. The cinema itself had armchairs with folding seats, a sloping floor and mechanical ventilation, all ‘richly decorated in the Greek style’. There was an orchestra of 60 musicians, a lot more than we see at the beginning of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’. The new cinema was a great success but unfortunately for Mr Shantser it was confiscated five years later after the Revolution and re-named Goskino No. 1 Cinema. Much of the luxury seemed to have disappeared by 1928 as the cinema looks rather drab in the film [sources: ‘Weekend Today’ and an Essay by Vlad Kaganov, ‘Khreschatyk. The best cinemas of the early twentieth century’].


IMG_202008141011031[Photograph: M Kalnytsky]

From the available evidence the first cinema screening of the film was on the 7th January 1929, not at the Goskino No. 1 Cinema but at the former ‘Express’ Cinema (entrance circled above), re-named Goskino* No. 2 Cinema, at Khreschatyk 25, then known as Vorovsky Street. This spectacular building was destroyed like the rest of the area by the retreating Red Army in 1941.

[*Держкіно/Derzhkino = State Cinema in Ukrainian]

The first review of the film, by the poet Mykola Ushakov, is dated 21st December 1928, which indicates there was a screening in December before the film was completed, most likely at the VUFKU studios in front of an invited audience, but we have not found any announcements for a public screening prior to the one below. The 7th January date is confirmed by minutes of the VUFKU board meeting on the 10th January in Kyiv, kindly provided by Anna Onufriienko of the Dovzhenko Centre, that state: ‘The film ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ – instead of receiving it on January 1st, the production department promised to hand it over on the 4th, but submitted it on the 5th, while the film was supposed to go on the screen on January 7th’. A previous, rather historic, minute #6 dated 12th-13th April 1928 gave the go ahead for the film, stating that ‘Staging such a picture is considered appropriate. Pass the production plan through the inspection bodies for approval’. 

Sunday 6th January 1929 edition of the Russian language ‘Kievsky Proletary’ has a modest announcement for the first showing of the film at Goskino No. 2 Cinema ‘tomorrow’ (the newspaper was not published on Monday 7th). Little information except that it was a ‘film without words’, Producer Dziga Vertov, Cameraman Kaufman. The announcement also boasts that the film is the ‘best VUFKU release’, not obvious from the paltry advert and screening in the less prestigious Goskino No.2 Cinema!

More announcements and information about the early screening of the film have been found, as well as the first ever (pre-release) review. See my recent blog post ‘MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA: the first cinema screening’.


Note: rising numeral 1 present in Eye/Lobster Films and other prints.

[00:05:06]  Apartment window in a brick wall. Location not found, but demonstrates the attention to detail in the film: this first image in reel 1 is actually shown on the film threaded through the projector!

[00:05:15] Street lights, Moscow. This design of lampost is used in Theatre Square (Teatral’naya ploschad) next to the Bolshoi Theatre. Exact location not found.

[00:05:35] The outdoor restaurant of the ‘London’ Hotel on Prymorskyi Boulevard, Odesa (then known as Feldman Boulevard after the city revolutionary who joined the 1905 Potemkin Mutiny). A popular venue as it was located next to the top of the Boulevard Steps, aka Prymorskyi Stairs, or Richelieu Steps (re-named Potemkin Stairs in 1955 on the 50th anniversary of the events portrayed in Eisenstein’s 1925 film. Now formally known by its original name of Prymorskyi Stairs but still known to most by the Potemkin version). 

IMG_4190[00:05:43] As above featuring a giant bottle advertisement. Surprisingly, I have not managed to locate any period photographs or postcards with this, presumably, well-known feature of the restaurant! Screenshot [00:09:54] shows the view to the left of the bottle.

IMG_4523A contemporary photograph of the restaurant  – note the stone pillars visible in the screenshots, now painted white [photograph and restaurant information from Y. Volokin and viknaodessa].

IMG_4524The restaurant seen from a crowded Boulevard Steps; the distinctive stone pillars are clearly visible on the corners of the terrace [photograph from viknaodessa].

Odessa_HarbourMid 19thC engraving of the recently completed (1841) Boulevard Steps and Primorskyi Boulevard gives a slightly exaggerated impression of how high the city stands above its harbour (the Steps rise nearly 30m with 192 steps). Previously the only way up was by winding paths and rickety wooden steps. A funicular railway was built up the slope in 1902.

IMG_4526Top of the Prymorskyi/Potemkin Stairs on Prymorskyi Boulevard. The original location of the restaurant, latterly called the ‘Lighthouse’, was behind the statue of the Duc de Richelieu (Governor of Odesa in the early 1800s, and a fascinating character who developed the city into the third largest in the Russian Empire). The terrace is in a ruinous state. A pity, as it would seem to be a great location at the top of a very long flight of steps!

[00:05:49] Bench with man asleep, Strastnaya Square, Moscow (see also [00:14:39]).

IMG_4454[00:05:53] Rubbish bin, Kyiv. The brand new bin (chained to a post) has an exhortation by the Kyiv City authorities: ‘Citizens – Preserve Cleanliness!’ (compare and contrast the rather tatty bins provided by its Moscow counterpart! [00:06:45])

[00:05:55] Boy in rags asleep on a wooden container used for winter salt and grit, Moscow (see background of screenshot [00:14:39] for a similar container). Unable to find the exact location, possibly Strastnaya Square again.

IMG_4093[00:06:00] Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, Obraztsova Street, Moscow.

unnamedA contemporary view of the garage.

1200px-Moscow_BakhmetevskyGarage_191_8304Current view after restoration and conversion into The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.

An iconic Moscow building, built in 1927, designed by the Constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov (1890-1974), with structural design by the pioneering engineer Vladimir Shukhov (1853-1939). Not really a Constructivist building as it is quite conventional to look at in red brick and a low pitched roof. What makes it an avant-garde landmark in industrial architecture is the parallelogram shaped floor plan developed by Melnikov from an earlier design for a Paris garage. This enabled buses to drive in at one end and leave at the other without having to reverse which enabled many more buses to park in the garage than would be the case with a conventional layout (below). Neglected for decades and nearly demolished it was saved by Daria Zhukova and Roman Abramovich who converted it into the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in 2007-2010. The gallery moved to Gorky Park in 2012 and then in 2015 to a spectacular OMA designed building in the park. The former bus garage is now the world’s largest Jewish Museum.

300px-Melnikov_garage_floorplanDiagrammatic plan of the garage (Wikipedia)

[00:06:04] Carriages, a driver asleep. Presumably near Odesa station as this type of carriage is seen collecting passengers in later scenes, but Yevgeny Volokin does not recognise the location as Odesa. Not verified.

IMG_4456[00:06:08] Shop front fascia with sign reading TSEROBKOOP, 13 Pushkins’ka Street, Odesa. This is the Ukrainian acronym for Центральний робітничий кооператив (Central Workers Cooperative). The Kyiv acronym was SOROBKOOP (союз робітничих кооперативів). The Russian version was TSERABKOOP (Центральный рабочий кооператив) as shown below in a propaganda illustration of the early 1920s. These co-ops ran in parallel with the private enterprise shops during the NEP (New Economic Policy) period, the latter shown in various scenes throughout the film (eg [00:58:29]).

The shop was in the right hand part of the building which also houses the Pushkin Museum. Pushkin lived in an apartment here during 1823 and 1824, exiled from Moscow.

IMG_4384[00:06:12] Novo-Sukharevsky Market (1926-1930), North Moscow.

IMG_4214 (2)

IMG_4421Contemporary aerial views of the interesting roof design of the market. 

vn01(48)The Market office building – the only surviving structure (to be restored).

Designed by Konstantin Melnikov, the construction of the market began in 1924, after the city decided to replace the unofficial outdoor market on Sukharevka. The stalls in wooden pavilions were put up on a vacant plot of land between Bolshoi Sukharevsky Pereulok, Trubnaya and Sadovo-Sukharevskaya streets. The three shopping aisles converged like rays towards the centre, where the brick office building was located. The market was vacated in 1930. Information and photograph of the office building from the Moscow City website.

[00:06:16] ‘Ginzburg Skyscraper’ courtyard, Kyiv (see [00:08:46 on] and [00:13:08] for more images and details of this huge apartment building, built in 1912). The angled shot seems influenced by the photographs of Vertov’s friend Alexander Rodchenko but he had been experimenting with such compositional devices since the ‘Kino-pravda’ newsreels (1922-25).

[00:06:19] Maternity hospital interior. Unable to find location.

[00:06:29] Apartment building exterior, windows with shutters. Unable to find location.

IMG_4389[00:06:34] At first glance this looks like a park overlooking the sea, and therefore in Odesa. However, the sea does not look like this from the high viewpoint of the city parks [00:09:54] [00:55:41], and Yevgeny Volokin confirmed that it is not in Odesa. I believe it to be a park or square in Moscow because the letters MK can just be seen on some of the distinctive rubbish bins of this era between the benches. MK stands for “Московский коммунальщик” (Moscow Communal Services) and the same initials are seen more clearly on the bin in screenshot [00:06:45]. What appears to be the sea is more likely a large area of cobbles (see [00:15:10] for a similar texture). There are also possible tram lines top right. There are no other obvious clues, and the landscaping is rather nondescript so I can’t find the exact location in Moscow.


These ‘урна’ (urns) featured in a long running children’s cartoon series (1969-2006) called “Ну, погоди!”(“Well, just you wait!”) being constantly kicked over by a naughty wolf! [thanks to the Museum of Moscow for information on bins and cartoon].


IMG_4095[00:06:40] Bolshoi Theatre, Theatre Square, Moscow. Advertisement for BORJOMI mineral water from Georgia (still being produced). See above for details of rubbish bin.

IMG_4550[00:06:45] Park bench with MK rubbish bin, Moscow (see above for details). Exact location not found. The bench design differs slightly from that in Strastnaya Square (see [00:14:30] and [00:14:39]).

IMG_4098[00:06:48] Bolshoi Theatre.

bolshoi19thC postcard of the theatre.

IMG_4606Current view [Google Earth].

The Bolshoi Theatre originally opened in 1825 as the Big (bolshoi) Petrovsky Theatre (as it was larger than its predecessor) which was the focal point of a new Theatre Square, but nearly thirty years later it was destroyed by fire. The rebuilt theatre was designed by Alberto Cavos and opened in August 1856, in time for Tsar Alexander IIs coronation. After the Revolution, there was serious talk of closing the theatre as one of the main symbols of Tsarist and bourgeois culture, but the Bolshevik government decided to keep it as a congress centre. It was from the Bolshoi Theatre stage that the declaration of the formation of the USSR was made in 1922. Further information from the Bolshoi website.

[00:06:57] Wine, vodka and food shop, Moscow (signs are in Russian).

IMG_4383[00:07:03] Volodymyrska Street looking towards Sofiys’ka Square, Kyiv (Bogdan Khmelnitsky statue in the centre of the square).

Known as Korolenko Street at the time of the film, this is one of the most historic areas of Kyiv: on the lhs behind the trees is the entrance to St Sophia’s Cathedral; the conical structure in the middle of the street is the Irina Pillar, the remains of an 11thC church (removed in 1932); the church with the dome in the background lhs is the 19thC Church of the Tithes built on the site of a 10thC predecessor destroyed by the Mongols in 1240. The new one was also destroyed in 1936, but there are controversial plans to rebuild it. The tower in the background is a mid 19thC fire observation and signalling structure. A fire station is still based in the building under the tower.

IMG_202007091140421aMykhailo Kalnytsky suggests that the camera would have been located on the summer restaurant terrace on the top of the ‘Red Kiev’ Hotel (formerly Prague Hotel) at Volodymyrska 36.

IMG_5351Another view of the hotel and roof terrace looking towards Sofiys’ka Square, showing why it was the likely high level location for the camera. St Sophia’s Cathedral bell tower in the background. [photohistory.kiev.ua]

hotek_PrahaMr Kalnytsky has also provided a postcard from c1913 with the view from the terrace for comparison. Note the second roof on the lhs which is also seen in the screenshot.

IMG_4909The hotel is quite far away from the square but the 15cm Krauss Zeiss telephoto lens would probably have been used (see [00:55:59] for the view with the 21cm telephoto lens). See my blog post about the cameras in the film for information on the lenses. [Google Earth]

[00:07:08] Ladies & Men’s hairdresser, Moscow (Russian sign). Location not found.

IMG_202007151445462[00:07:11] Large apartment block, Kyiv. Rear of building on Yaroslaviv Val (off Volodymyrska Street). Mykhailo Kalnytsky suggests that this shot was also taken from the roof terrace of the Red Kiev Hotel, in a SW direction.

The beautiful facade of the 1907 building designed by Josef Zekzer, and the distinctive rear staircase (visible on the screenshot). [photographs M. Kalnytsky]

[00:07:14] Singer sewing machine shop. Location not found.

[00:07:19] Another angled image of the Ginzburg Skyscraper courtyard, Kyiv. On the rhs is the keystone over the entrance arch seen in the photograph in screenshot [00:08:46] description.

[00:07:22] Radio (?) shop with dummy cyclist. Location not found.

[00:07:26] Building with large windows. Location not found.

[00:07:34] Lift lobby, probably Palace Hotel, Kyiv (see [00:25:57]).

IMG_4100[00:07:46] The first of many scenes on Kuznetsky Most in central Moscow. The poster is advertising an anniversary (presumably the 60th as he was born in 1868) collection of Maxim Gorky’s works available from the state publishing house Gosizdat.

IMG_4529A similar view of the street from the early 1930s with a luxury Lincoln Model K parked next to the building under the banner above. No doubt a top ranking official going shopping!

IMG_4156 (2)Late 19th Century postcard of the street looking towards the same junction (all the buildings in the background are recognisable in the screenshot).

IMG_4662Current appearance of the street from a similar viewpoint as the screenshot. The buildings on the left have survived, and the large one on the rhs. [Google Earth]

One of the oldest streets in the city, since the 18th Century Kuznetsky Most has been a fashionable shopping street, and still is. The name is derived from ‘Blacksmith’s bridge’ over a river that now runs underground. After the Revolution it became a centre for writers and culture (the Moscow House of Artists and School of Fine Arts are located here). Fortunately it is one of the few historic streets in central Moscow that escaped Stalin’s disastrous town planning and so is recognisable from the film.

[00:07:55] Industrial silhouette – probably filmed in the Donbas or Kamianske for ‘The Eleventh Year’.

IMG_4080[00:08:04] Izvestia newspaper building, Strastnaya Square (re-named Pushkinskaya Square in 1931), Moscow. The tower of the doomed Strastnoy (Passion) Monastery is on the right.

194711950s view of building (after the demolition of Strastnoy Monastery).

barkhin-dom-izvestiiaArchitect’s perspective view (courtesy of The Charnel House).

The Izvestia newspaper building is an iconic Constructivist building in Moscow, designed by Grigorii and Mikhail Barkhin, built in 1927. This began the modernisation of Strastnaya Square (supported by the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky) leading to the demolition of the 17th century Strastnoy Monastery and the extension of the original square in 1937 as part of Joseph Stalin’s destructive re-planning of the city. Pushkin’s statue was moved to the centre of the new square in 1950. The Charnel House website has details of the Izvestia building which has been recently restored by Grigorii Barkhin’s great grandson, Alexey Ginzburg.

IMG_4213aContemporary aerial view of Strastnaya Square. The Izvestia building is on the right opposite the monastery. Pushkin’s Statue is top centre. The dome of the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki is top centre (demolished 1934). Tverskaya Street passes through the square (left to right).

IMG_4506 (2)Contemporary view over Strastnaya Square with the new Izvestia building behind the Strastnoy Monastery tower. Pushkin’s statue is at the bottom left. The dome of St. Demetrius Church in the foreground.

IMG_4509Early 1900s view of the huge monastery. There is a current campaign to rebuild it in its original location.

IMG_4401[00:08:12] View of steelworks, Kamianske (or Donbas)*.

IMG_4395[00:08:30] View of blast furnace Cowper stoves, Kamianske (or Donbas)*. These wonderful industrial images could have been taken by Bernd and Hilla Becher decades later!

*The shooting location notes include ‘Kamenskoe (Kamianske) Iron Foundry’. Known today as the Dniprovskiyi Metallurgical Plant, it was founded in 1887 as the Dnieper Works, re-named after Feliks Dzerzhynsky in 1917. Dziga Vertov’s diary entry, June 22 1927, Zaporozh’e*: ‘We are completing our filming of the Dzerzhinsky plant….’ and goes on to describe the unpleasant working conditions. This suggests that filming there was not in July and August as per the shooting location notes.

I have not been able to verify whether a steelworks in the Donbas was also a location for some of the sequences. It would have been more logical to have filmed both the steelworks and coal mines in the same area so it is not clear why a visit to Kamianske was necessary.

*The location of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Station also filmed for ‘The Eleventh Year’.

[00:08:35] Kuznetsky Most, Moscow.

[00:08:39] Traffic semaphore on Kuznetsky Most (presumed).

IMG_5369[00:08:46] [00:09:00] View of a glass entrance door from a building interior. This door appears on several occasions in the film ([00:30:27 on] and during the final sequence at the end) and the available evidence suggests it is the main courtyard entrance to the 1912 Ginzburg Skyscraper. There are few detailed photographs of this building (destroyed in 1941), but it appears that there was a door each side of the entrance from the street (as seen in [00:09:18]) and the larger arched door in the West wing that we think is seen in the film, circled below. What appears to be the outline of the low fence around the central landscaped area below can just be made out through the glass. Without a clear exterior photograph of the doors this cannot be verified.

IMG_202007290723480aView into the courtyard of the Ginzburg Skyscraper through the entrance archway from Zhovtnya Street (formerly and now Institutska Street) with the suggested glass doors to the West wing entrance circled. The tower that appears in [00:13:08] is on the corner. See also [00:09:18] for a glimpse of the top of this arch seen from the courtyard side. The small trees in the centre landscaped area look similar to those seen through the glass doors in [00:09:09]. [Photograph courtesy of Fotiy Krasitsky]

IMG_5371[00:08:52] Courtyard of the Ginzburg Skyscraper. The roof in the background is over the  Kyiv Circus, destroyed along with the Skyscraper and most of the Khreschatyk area in 1941. The Skyscraper was built on the edge of an escarpment so the Circus and other buildings on the adjacent Karl Marx Street are considerably lower than the courtyard.


[00:09:13] Ginzburg Skyscraper courtyard North side

IMG_5385 [00:09:18] The camera car leaving the courtyard (South side) through the entrance archway (as photo above). See also [00:07:19] for a glimpse of the top of the archway, [00:13:08] for an external view and description of the building, and also [00:06:16] and [00:33:49]. 


Contemporary street plan showing the camera car route in the Ginzburg Skyscraper courtyard. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5118[00:09:22] Park Bridge, Petrivs’ka Alley, Kyiv. Another iconic image from the film.

IMG_202007181141381A contemporary view of the elegant pedestrian bridge and contrasting heavy looking abutments. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_4280 (2)Current view of the bridge and abutments [Google Earth].

Also known as ‘Devil’s Bridge’ or ‘Lover’s Bridge’ it was built in 1909/1910. Designed by the renowned Kyiv engineer Yevgeny Oskarovich Paton, who was also responsible for the Yevgeniya Bosh Bridge over the Dnieper River, the bridge was actually constructed before the passage which was excavated under it. Once this was made the sloping sides were supported by stone abutments, at first quite simple in design, then the rather over-scaled version that exists today. After the Revolution the bridge fell into disrepair which was written about by Mikhail Bulgakov in his essay ‘Kyiv, the City’ in 1923. By the time of the film the bridge had been repaired and survived until 1983 when a new structure that matched the old bridge replaced it. For a more detailed account of Park Bridge read Mykhailo Kalnytsky’s article here.

Contemporary postcards showing the Petrivs’ka Alley being excavated under the bridge. The Dnieper River can be seen in the background of both views. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5227The view towards the city from the bridge at the time of the film, with the Ginzburg Skyscraper in the background. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_4516[00:09:43] Pigeons in Strastnoy Monastery rh corner tower, Strastnaya Square, Moscow.

[00:09:49 on] Railway line sequence. Location not found.

IMG_4515[00:09:54] Restaurant of the ‘London’ Hotel, Prymorskyi Boulevard, Odesa. Note the ships in the distance (and possibly smaller vessels alongside the harbour breakwater on the lhs?). See also screenshots [00:05:35] and [00:05:43].

IMG_6204[00:10:13 on] Woman waking, dressing, and washing

Professor MacKay notes (p. 13, fn. 20) in his Academia paper on MwaMC (see introduction) that the woman has been identified as the dancer Valia Anastasieva, living in a room on her own at 32/12 Fundukleevskaia Street, Kyiv. Now re-named Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho (Bohdan Khmelnytsky) Street, no. 32 is rather a grand looking apartment block near the Opera House, below. The supposed interior shots looking out of a window with blinds would most likely have been taken elsewhere, as the view out does not seem to be of this street. [photograph: M. Kalnytsky]


[00:11:17 on] Tramp waking up. Location not found.

IMG_4653[00:11:36] Woman sweeping tram tracks, Strastnaya Square, Moscow (clues are the tram stop pavilion behind and the grit bin in the background (see [00:14:39] where the same bin is visible).

IMG_4642[00:11:43] [00:11:48] Man with one leg on a bench/step in front of the kiosk on Strastnaya Square, Moscow. The pharmacy (АПТЕКА) in the background can also be seen in [00:14:30] and [00:14:39].

Advertisements on the kiosk wall and window for ‘Slavyanovskaya’, ‘Narzan’, ‘Essentuki’, and ‘Batalinskaya’ mineral waters from the Caucasus. The faded lettering on the bench is unclear – possibly a request to take empty bottles to ‘Stoleshnikov (Lane?)’ for the return of the deposit? [thanks to Mykhailo Kalnytsky for this information]

IMG_4655Close up of the kiosk on the square, behind Pushkin’s statue (note the wooden grit bins at the top by the tram stop pavilion visible in other scenes). 

[00:11:54] Kuznetsky Most, Moscow

IMG_4845[00:12:06] Cast iron posts being hosed down, Kyiv. These look like the canopy supports to the Khreschatyk Street entrance of the Belle Vue Hotel and Shantser Cinema. The supports (a unique design in the city) are next to an electricity post, as can be seen in the contemporary photograph below. They look closer together in the screenshot but this may be telephoto lens foreshortening.


[00:12:16] Rubbish bin being hosed down, Kyiv (see [00:05:53]).

[00:12:27] Woman cleaning window. Location not found. 


Note: rising numeral 2 present in Eye/Lobster Films and other prints.

IMG_4245[00:13:07] This is the corner tower in the courtyard of the ‘Ginzburg Skyscraper’ in Kyiv. See also [00:08:46 on] for views of the courtyard.

The glass doors seen several times in the film [00:08:46 etc] are likely to be on the ground floor directly below the rhs balcony. This travelling shot is interesting in that it must have been taken from the camera car (or other mobile platform) moving across the courtyard not, as it appears to be, from the street. The tower appears through foliage that is probably from the trees seen in [00:08:52]. If you look carefully at the sequence there are three people at the top of the tower, one clowning about sticking his leg out!


IMG_4847The ‘Ginzburg Skyscraper’ was an enormous multi-storey apartment block built in 1912 by Lev Ginzburg; at the time it was the ‘tallest building in the Russian Empire’. The building was destroyed, along with most of the area around Khreschatyk, by the retreating Red Army in 1941. You can see the tower in the screenshot in the contemporary photograph above. This is a view looking north towards the courtyard facade. Various shots of the ‘Skyscraper’ are also seen in [00:06:16][00:07:19][00:08:46][00:08:51][00:09:18][00:33:49 on]. The site is now occupied by the Stalinist Ukraine Hotel. [Source: Mikhailo Kalnytsky] 

IMG_4256[00:13:19] Mikhail Kaufman (MK) runs up a large industrial structure with a Debrie Model K camera and tripod – I have been unable to verify what or where this is. I have not found any past or present bridges in Moscow, Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Kamianske, or Donetsk with this structure. A structural engineer told me that it was not likely to be a conventional bridge (an odd looking inverted bowstring truss suspension design). See later image of this structure below for further notes.

IMG_6588[00:13:26] Aircraft hangar, Kharkiv aerodrome. This was built in 1923-24 for Ukraine’s first airline, ‘Ukrvozduhput’ (Укрвоздухпуть). The aerodrome was also the base for the Higher Military Aviation School whose pupils are presumably bringing out their U-1 training aircraft. The frames for this sequence are masked at the top and bottom, perhaps to emphasise the horizontality of the huge door opening.

The only photograph found of the hangar (source: ‘Aviation in Ukraine. Essays on History’, V. Savin, Kharkiv, 1995). The windows are identical to the screenshot and there seems to be one large door opening. However, the door design and proportions look slightly different. Perhaps the other end looks more like the screenshot.

U-1 Red Army Air Force training aircraft as seen in the screenshot.


[01:06:00] There are two hangars in the background of one of the shots in the final sequence of the film, probably at the aerodrome, but neither building looks like the Ukrvozduhput hangar. [Information on the hangar from M Kalnytsky]

IMG_4249[00:13:48] Tram depot, Vodoprovidna Street, Odesa

IMG_4203 (2)

Current [Google Earth] and 1960s views of the depot which is still partly in use by trams. There is a similar tram depot on Stepova Street in the south of the city, now used as a tram museum.

One of Mikhail Kaufman’s criticisms of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (he fell out permanently with his brother over differences in creative viewpoints during editing) was that ‘there were too many trams’. A valid criticism as indeed there are trams everywhere (which was the case in those days). The trams in the three cities can generally be differentiated as follows:

Moscow – a horizontal white band along the lower side; Kyiv – a white panel on the front, and sometimes along the sides; Odesa – neither band nor panel but only the elegant lining around the body panels [00:13:48]. The colours were generally deep red with a white or cream superstructure. Typical (restored) Moscow tram of the early 1900s below.


IMG_4247[00:13:57] Mikhail Kaufman on top of an industrial structure with a tram. This was likely to have been filmed during ‘The Eleventh Year’ in 1927 as the camera appears to be the Model K Debrie Parvo used on this film (as seen above it does not have the silver disc on the side of the Model L used during the 1928 filming). The tram is unusual in that it is in one drab looking colour (Moscow, Kyiv, and Odesa trams generally had light coloured superstructures; also see above note on trams in these cities); the second carriage is very short and industrial looking with open ends; and the headboard design is unlike the other cities and says in Ukrainian ‘Factories’ and ‘Station’.

Mykhailo Kalnytsky has investigated trams in the relevant cities as follows: Kamianske (no trams there until 1935) and Donetsk (Stalin) where there was a No. 1 tram that went on the route ‘Factories – Station’ but this started in October 1928, so a year after ‘The Eleventh Year’ filming (also the passengers seem to be wearing summer clothes). In Dnipropetrovsk, a city near to Kamianske, there was a No. 1 tram at the time but the destination was ‘Factories – Camp Bazaar’. So both the structure and tram remain a mystery unless new information comes to light.

[00:14:04] Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, Moscow (see screenshot [00:06:00]).



IMG_4584[00:14:30] [00:14:39] Woman on a bench, Strastnaya Square, Moscow. Clues are the pharmacy (АПТЕКА) on the corner of the square (lhs) and the tram stop pavilion and toilets behind the tram seen in the middle of the square above. Many thanks to Dr Denis Romodin of the Museum of Moscow for locating this scene and for suggesting the location of the exact bench (arrow)! Note the grit bin circled in [00:14:39] which is also visible in screenshot [00:11:36]. Photograph courtesy of the Museum.

The kiosk selling mineral water in [00:11:43] is just to the right of the arrow.

IMG_4089[00:14:42] Teatral’naya (Theatre) and Revolyutsii (Revolution) Squares, Moscow.

These famous squares are in central Moscow near Red Square. You can just see a corner of the park in Revolution Square next to Theatre Square in the foreground which is overlooked by the Bolshoi Theatre (the camera would have been on the top floor or on the pediment). The large (red) building in the background was built in 1890 as the City Hall, then the Lenin Museum. It is now used as a gallery for some of the collections of the State Historical Museum. All the buildings on the right have been replaced by a dreary block and a car park as can be seen in the current Google Street View below (the caption says Theatre Passage which is the road between the squares – see also [00:20:07]).


IMG_4404[00:14:50] Mostorg Department Store, Theatre Square, Moscow. This was the former Muir & Mirrielees department store (below), founded by two Scottish emigres. Now occupied by TsUM, it is a spectacular Gothic Revival building designed by the architect Roman Klein, opened in 1908. Confiscated after the Revolution it was re-named ‘Mostorg’ in 1922. The store also features in Mikhail Kaufman’s ‘Moscow’ (1927).


At first glance the glass facade could be from the famous 1927 Mostorg store above, on Krasnaya Presnya, designed by the Constructivist architects Aleksandr, Leonid and Viktor Vesnin. A similar appearance at ground level but the Theatre Square store windows reflect part of the Bolshoi Theatre and the City Hall. The Vesnin building facade still exists as a Benetton store front, but the interesting iron framed lower facade of the Muir & Mirrielees store has been replaced by a very ordinary design (below).

IMG_4528[Google Earth]

IMG_4408a[00:14:56] Tverskaya Street at the corner of Strastnaya Square, Moscow.

Current view of the same corner of Tverskaya and Pushkinskaya Square. [Google Earth]

The clue to the location is the circled sign for the ‘Tverskaya 46’ Cinema, previously the Central Cinema (entry in 1929 Moscow directory below) on the corner of the building. Tverskaya and Strastnaya Square were re-built and widened in the 1930s and the street numbering has changed. The cinema was on the corner of the square on the same street as the Izvestia building and can be seen in the background of screenshot [01:04:31]. This cinema and the Hermitage Theatre were the locations for the premiere of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ in Moscow on the 9th April 1929.

IMG_4410aCinema information courtesy of Live Journal. 

Tverskaya is one of the oldest streets in Moscow, dating back to the 12thC. One of the main radial streets of the city it connects Manege Square at the top of Red Square to the Garden Ring, passing through Tverskaya (Sovetskaya) and Strastnaya (Pushkinskaya) Squares. The route into Moscow from St Petersburg for the Tsars, it became a fashionable street for the aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, then a commercial centre in the 19thC. Re-named Gorky Street in 1932, most of the historic buildings were destroyed after 1935 as part of Stalin’s reconstruction of Moscow.

IMG_6166[00:15:05] MK (assumed – see [00:25:57]) with Debrie Interview camera and tripod on his shoulder walks past a poster for ‘The Awakening of a Woman’, 1927, dir. Fred Sauer. This poster also appears earlier in the film, and in the reflected view of Strastnaya Square [00:19:52]. The film was showing in Moscow at the time of the filming in early June 1928 at the ‘Hermitage’, ‘Horn’ and ‘Union’ Cinemas (Pravda advertisements) but none looks like the building in the screenshot so the location has not been found. The cinema may have been in Kyiv, but this is not confirmed by Mykhailo Kalnitsky.

IMG_4195[00:15:10] Strastnaya Square, Moscow. The Pushkin statue is concealed on the right (moved to the centre of the re-planned square in 1950). Most likely filmed with the 21cm telephoto lens from the Monastery opposite.

IMG_4641A contemporary wider angle view of the square and Pushkin statue (centre).  

[00:15:19] [00:15:23] [00:15:26] Steelworks chimney, Donbas or Kamianske.

[00:15:30] Corner of Tverskaya Street and Strastnaya Square, Moscow (as [00:14:56]).

IMG_4413[00:15:35] [00:15:47] [00:15:53] [00:15:58] [00:16:03] Mikhail Kaufman climbs up a steelworks chimney, Donbas or Kamianske*.

A terrifying looking ascent (probably not with the 10kg camera inside the case) though there does seem to be a rudimentary safety cable alongside the rungs (below)!


[00:16:09] MK pauses ‘near the top of the chimney’ to get the camera out of its case (but would have been filmed nearer to ground level judging from the angle and safety concerns!).

[00:16:13] Corner of Tverskaya Street and Strastnaya Square, Moscow. A clearer view of ‘Tverskaia 46’ Cinema on the square with a poster for the film ‘Engineer Elagin’ [1928] and ‘disc’ that can be seen behind the motorcycle and sidecar in the screenshot below.[01:04:31]

[00:17:01] Steelworks lifts, Donbas or Kamianske*. Also seen next to the chimney in the images below.

IMG_4414[00:17:06] Coal yard and gantry, Donbas (presumed to be Rutchenkovo – see below for a general view with a similar gantry).

[00:17:10] Coal mine, presumed to be Rutchenkovo, Donbas.

[00:17:20] Coal yard, handcarts over the cameraman, Donbas (Rutchenkovo, as below?).

IMG_4416[00:17:32] View of Cowper ovens at a steelworks, Donbas or Kamianske*.


A still from ‘The Eleventh Year’ showing the same works.

*Refer to [00:08:30] for notes on the Kamenskoe (Kamianske) steelworks.

IMG_4289 (2)Contemporary view over the Rutchenkovo coal mine and steelworks. Coal unloading gantry in screenshot [00:17:06] on lhs?

IMG_4787Contemporary view over Kamenskoe (Kamianske) steelworks.

IMG_4783Contemporary poster -‘The Donbass is the Heart of Russia’

IMG_4419[00:17:36] Strastnaya Square, Moscow (Izvestia building on lhs).

FullSizeRender - 1(2)Contemporary image of the building – note the huge clock!

IMG_4211Current view of the re-named Pushkinskaya Square – restored Izvestia Building on the left and a much wider road following the Strastnoy Monastery demolition and re-planning of the square.

IMG_5147[00:17:40] MK with the Debrie Parvo Model K on a moving gantry over a steelworks(?) yard, Donbas or Kamianske. Not located.

IMG_4268A still of the same huge gantry from ‘The Eleventh Year’

IMG_4418[00:17:56] Presumed entrance to Novo-Sukharevsky Market, Moscow (not verified).

[00:18:12] Strastnaya Square, Moscow (same camera position as [00:17:36].

IMG_5155[00:18:17] MK (assumed – see [00:25:57]) and camera (Debrie Interview) walking through the main avenue of Novo-Sukharevsky Market, Moscow (see screenshot [00:06:12] for details of the Market).

[00:18:34] Trams crossing Strastnaya Square, Moscow.

[00:18:41] Market view with rear of church (?) in background. Building not found.

IMG_4424[00:18:48] View over Velyka Vasylkivska Street and Khreschatyk beyond (the main boulevard in the centre of Kyiv, at that time [1923-1937] known as Vorovsky Street). Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) is at the top, just past the bend (then known as Soviet Square). Mykhailo Kalnytsky suggests the camera was located on the roof of No. 13 Velyka Vasylkivska (a five storey building) as it is on a turn in the road (see the contemporary map and GE screenshot). Mr Kalnytsky has also sent me an early 20thC postcard with a view taken from exactly the same spot (you can see the A of АПТЕКА (pharmacy) in the screenshot). A slightly lower viewpoint so perhaps taken from a window rather than the roof. You can also see the Ginzburg Skyscraper in the background!


IMG_6297There is a very similar high level view at the beginning of Dziga Vertov’s 1926 film ‘Stride, Soviet!’ and in Mikhail Kaufman’s ‘Moscow (1927). Not Velyka Vasylkivska but Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street in Moscow shot from the top of the Triumphal Arch on Tverskaya Zastava Square.

IMG_4813(1)aArrow showing the viewpoint of the camera on the roof of No. 13 Velyka Vasylkivska

IMG_4899aCurrent view of Velyka Vasylkivska looking south with the suggested location of the camera. The distinctive building on the left and right below is recognisable from the screenshot and postcard. [Google Earth]

IMG_4910Current view of the street looking north; Khreschatyk beyond was mostly rebuilt and widened after war damage (part of the centre of the city was blown up by the retreating Red Army in 1941). [Google Earth]

[00:18:58] [00:19:06] Moscow shop seen in screenshot [00:06:57] opening shutters.

[00:19:13] Kuznetsky Most.

[00:19:17] Travel or shipping agent’s window advertising passage from Odesa to Jaffa on the ‘Lenin’. Presumed Odesa, but exact location not found.

IMG_4425[00:19:19] I am fairly certain that this is Strastnaya Square. The only clue is the sign on the post and the cables at top right. Compare with the sign, post, and cables in screenshot [00:15:10] below. The smooth pathways between the cobbles look similar as well.


IMG_4426[00:19:31] Petrovsky Fountain on Revolution Square, the Bolshoi Theatre in the background. The building on the rhs is the Mostorg (now the TsUM) department store, a 1908 Gothic Revival building by the architect Roman Klein (see screenshot [00:14:50] for details).

[00:19:45] Sewing machine shop (location not found).

[00:19:52] Strastnaya Square reflected in the glass of a revolving door (‘The Awakening of a Woman’ film poster, cameraman and camera, Strastnoy Monastery and dome of St. Demetrius Church visible).

[00:20:02] A shop window with a ‘cyclist’ – the reflected building has not been located.

IMG_4427[00:20:07] Teatral’nyy Proyezd (Theatre Passage), Moscow.

IMG_4186 (2)A contemporary view of the street. Part of the Kitay-gorod mediaeval wall on the right with the dome of St Panteleimon Chapel above. Note the sledge transport on the rhs! Theatre Passage is one of the main streets in the historic centre of Moscow connecting Theatre Square with Lubyanka (seen at the top of the photograph).

IMG_4187 (2)A similar view but looking very different now, this historic street was totally obliterated by Stalinist planners. The notorious Lubyanka KGB HQ and prison is at the end of the avenue. [Google Earth]

IMG_4169[00:20:16] Kuznetsky Most, Moscow

IMG_4152[00:20:31] Okhotny Ryad, Moscow. The end facade of Dom Soyuzov (House of the Unions) is on the rhs. The beautiful 17thC church of St Paraskeva on the lhs was destroyed (in June 1928)  just after it was filmed.

IMG_4799 (2)19thC postcard of Okhotny Ryad and St Paraskeva Church.

IMG_4154Current appearance of the street from the same viewpoint as the screenshot! [Google Earth]. Okhotny Ryad is the continuation of Teatral’nyy Proyezd (Theatre Passage) from Theatre Square to the bottom of Tverskaya and the top of Red Square. Famous for its market, restaurants, speciality shops and old hotels before the Revolution the whole area was devastated by Stalin’s re-planning of central Moscow in the 1930s.

One of the major historic buildings in Moscow, Dom Soyuzov is a huge 18thC princely mansion that became the Assembly of the Russian Nobility in 1784. Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev and other Soviet leaders all lay in state here, and the building became the centre of the country’s social, political and cultural life holding concerts, chess matches, conferences, and Party Congresses. It was also the setting for some of the notorious Stalin show trials in the late 1930s.

IMG_4429Contemporary photograph of Dom Soyuzov.

[00:20:43] Split screen of Petrovky Street approaching the junction with Kuznetsky Most.

[00:20:52] Teatral’nny Proyezd , Moscow.

IMG_4125[00:21:09] Former second-class entrance pavilion, Odesa Station (and below).

IMG_4433Photograph and Station information from viknaodessa.

IMG_4128[00:21:13] Main entrance to Odesa Station.

76266Early 1900s view of the station entrance on Pryvokzal’na Square. [courtesy of viknaodessa]

Designed by the architects Schreter and Bernardazzi, this magnificent station opened in 1883 covering a large area of the city. The entrances were strictly hierarchical: First Class passengers used the main entrance above, Second Class had the entrance with the cast iron canopy in [00:21:09], and Third Class had an entrance off the Old Town Square. The ruling family had its own Imperial entrance pavilion to avoid mixing with its subjects. The station was badly damaged during WW2 and rebuilt to a different design after the war.

IMG_4126[00:21:19] Mikhail Kaufman in the camera car in Pushkins’ka, Odesa (presumed, as I am unable to locate the building behind the trees on the rhs).

IMG_4136 (2)Early 20thC postcard view of Pushkins’ka from Pryvokzal’na Square, with the spire of St Elijah’s Monastery on the right (see [00:57:06]).

IMG_4148Current view of Pushkins’ka [Google Earth]

Pushkins’ka Street was the location of the camera car and carriage/car sequences as two large distinctive buildings that still exist on side streets are clearly visible part way through the sequence. Pushkins’ka (Pushkin lived there in 1823-24) is an avenue leading from Pryvokzal’na Square, without trams so the camera car could travel along the middle of the road alongside its subjects. There is a brief scene of the camera car turning a corner into another avenue off the square where you can see a tram emerging [00:21:45]. Pushkins’ka is a very long street allowing plenty of time for the filming, as you can clearly see from the screenshots.

IMG_4688[00:21:21] Cars and horse drawn cabs in Pryvokzal’na Square, Odesa. The car is the one being filmed in [00:22:18] et al.

[00:21:24] MK in camera car in Pryvokzal’na Square.

[00:21:31] Odesa Station entrance.

[00:21:35] [00:21:41] MK in camera car in Pryvokzal’na Square.

IMG_4129[00:21:55] MK and camera car on Pushkins’ka.

[00:22:07] MK and camera car on Pushkins’ka.

[00:22:15] Women in a cab on Pushkins’ka.

IMG_4439[00:22:18] [00:22:51] Car and passengers on Pushkins’ka (the same car as seen in [00:21:21]).

[00:22:24] MK and camera car on Pushkins’ka.

IMG_4440[00:22:30] 2nd car and passengers on Pushkins’ka.


IMG_4690This is the imposing Italian Gothic Revival building of the Odesa Philharmonic Theatre glimpsed behind the car above, on the former Rosa Luxemburg Street, off Pushkins’ka. Designed to resemble the Doge’s Palace in Venice, it was built as a stock exchange in 1894. [Google Earth]

[00:22:36] MK and camera car on Pushkins’ka.

IMG_4441[00:22:39] 2nd cab with two women on Pushkins’ka (one imitating the cameraman!).

IMG_4449[00:22:45] MK and camera car on Pushkins’ka (the building below on Troitska Street is behind – the balconies have disappeared!).

IMG_4136aCurrent view of the building on Troitska Street in the background of the screenshot above. [Google Earth]

[00:22:53] [00:23:00] Horse galloping, and then ‘frozen’. Assumed Odesa.

[00:22:57] Camera car on Pushkins’ka.

[00:23:04] ‘Frozen’ carriage and passengers (reverse view of the same ones seen briefly in [00:22:36] et al).

[00:23:07] ‘Frozen’ street view. Location not found.

[00:23:15] ‘Frozen’ view of the north end of Khreschatyk Street, Kyiv.


Note: rising numeral 3 missing from Eye/Lobster Films print.

[00:24:45] ‘Frozen’ view of the north end of Khreschatyk.

IMG_5336[00:24:48] North end of Khreschatyk, crowds in motion. Mykhailo Kalnytsky suggests the camera was located at No. 28/2 Khreschatyk (on the corner of Prorizna Street), which is much taller than its neighbours (see photograph and arrow on the map below). The main square of Kyiv, then known as Sovetskaya Square, is on the lhs by the sunlit building. It was previously known as Khreschatyk Square, then Dumskaya (Council) Square, and after being called many different names in the Soviet era it was re-named Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in 1991.

IMG_4231 (2)An early 1900s view of the north end of Khreschatyk. The buildings are much the same except for the end of a large new building spoiling the street on the lhs of the screenshot. Apparently taken from the same building as the screenshot.

IMG_202007270916392aMykhailo Kalnytsky suggests that the camera was located on the top rhs balcony of 28/2 Khreschatyk. This beautiful building was built in 1902, designed by the famous Kyiv architect of Polish origin Vladyslav Horodetsky. It was the first on Khreschatyk to be blown up in 1941 by the retreating Red Army. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_202007061223140bContemporary street plan showing the suggested location of the camera overlooking Khreschatyk. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_4825Current view of the north end of Khreschatyk at a similar location [photograph by Nikolay Omelchenko on Google Earth]. Nothing much is left of the old street thanks to its destruction by the retreating Red Army in 1941. Much of the re-building after the war was in the Stalinist neo-classical style as can be seen here. Independence Square is just ahead, and now occupies both sides of the street.

[00:25:01] Passengers in a carriage, Pushkins’ka, Odesa (reverse view, ‘frozen’ at first’ – originally seen in [00:22:36] and [00:23:04]).

[00:25:08] Views of streets behind horse’s head, Odesa. From similarities to previous shots presumably around Pushkins’ka, but not verified.

[00:25:12] Two women in a carriage, Odesa. Presumably around Pushkins’ka, but not verified.

[00:25:21 on] Carriage and women outside a house in Odesa. Exact location not found.

[00:25:38] Mikhail Kaufman (assumed) with Debrie Interview camera and tripod walking in a street. Location not found.

[00:25:40] Carriage outside a building on Vorontsovs’kyi Lane, Odesa.

Modern view of the location. Windows and cellar openings have been added. The street leads to the Vorontsov Palace and the end of Primorskyi Boulevard. [Google Street View]

[00:25:47] Revolving doors at the Palace Hotel, Kyiv [see 00:25:57].

IMG_4172[00:25:50] Theatre and Revolution Squares, Moscow (taken from the top floor or pediment of the Bolshoi Theatre). This is a view to the left of the one in screen shot [00:14:42].

IMG_4174 (2)Old postcard of the opposite view, Revolution Square with 1827 Petrovsky Fountain (Moscow’s oldest) in the foreground. The layout of the squares has changed considerably, but the fountain is still in place.

IMG_4173Current aerial view of Theatre and Revolution Squares. The Bolshoi Theatre is at the bottom of the picture. The beautiful Art Nouveau Metropol Hotel is on the left. Sadly, most of the area is now taken up by parking. [Google Earth]

IMG_6149[00:25:57] Entrance to the Palace Hotel, Kyiv (advertisement for the Kyiv Opera House on the left).

Palast-1920eThe Palace Hotel, or Hotel Palast, was and is one of the premier hotels in Kyiv. On Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard it opened in 1912 in time for the ‘All Russia Exhibition’ held in the city in 1913. This exhibition was the catalyst for the extraordinary amount of fine early 19th Century architecture in the city. [Hotel advertisement from M. Kalnytsky]

FullSizeRender - 6(2)Dziga Vertov and Elizaveta Svilova stayed in the hotel when they moved to Kyiv in 1927 (not certain if Mikhail Kaufman was there also). This photograph shows MK (2nd left) and DV (right) outside the entrance. Note the design of the doors as seen in [00:25:57] and [00:30:31]. [photograph courtesy of the Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre, from ‘Mikhail Kaufman’s Ukrainian Dilogy’, S. Bytiutskyi, 2018]

The figure in the centre (possibly the cameraman Georgii Khimchenko) is intriguing as he is dressed in the same clothing that Mikhail Kaufman is often seen in, giving rise to the possibility that he was a ‘stand-in’ for MK in some of the scenes in the film where his face is not visible, such as the introduction in the Shantser Cinema and Novo-Sukharevsky Market.    

IMG_4466[00:26:03] Corner of Theatre Square, Moscow. Metropol Hotel in the background, Maly Theatre on the lhs. This is a view to the left of the one in screen shot [00:25:50].

IMG_4218Current view of the same corner. Maly Theatre on the left, Metropol Hotel in the background.  [Google Earth]

The Maly Theatre (literally ‘Small Theatre’ in contrast to the ‘Bolshoi’) has been in this building since 1824.  One of the leading classical theatres of Europe it also operates the Shchepkin Theatre School, Moscow’s oldest.

The Metropol is one of Europe’s greatest Grand Hotels. Opened in 1905 in a beautiful Art Nouveau style building designed by the Scottish-Russian architect William Walcot its central stained glass vaulted dining room must one of the most spectacular places in the world to have breakfast (from personal experience!). From a balcony in this room the great Russian bass Fyodor Shalyapin sang and Vladimir Lenin declaimed. After the Revolution the Metropol was used for government offices and then returned to being a deluxe hotel as the Bolsheviks realised that foreign visitors would expect something better than the average post-revolution Moscow hotel!

[00:26:12] [00:26:17] Close up of the traffic policeman at the signal in Kuznetsky Most, Moscow (assumed).

[00:26:19] Telephoto view of Revolution Square taken from the Bolshoi.

[00:26:23] [00:26:57] [00:27:03] Traffic signal on Kuznetsky Most (assumed).

IMG_4159[00:26:25] [00:26:43] [00:26:52] [00:27:06] The camera overlooks Velyka Vasylkivska Street and Khreschatyk beyond, in Kyiv. Mykhailo Kalnytsky suggests the camera(s) were on the roof of No. 13 Velyka Vasylkivska (a five storey building) as it is on a bend in the road (see screenshot [00:18:48]). The depth of field (ie the camera is in focus as well as the background) is impressive!

IMG_4483[00:27:36] Split screen view of Moscow streets and trams. Locations not found.

[00:27:52] Tverskaya Street, corner of Strastnaya Square.

IMG_4484[00:28:18 on] Funeral procession, Derybasivska Street, Odesa. Presumably the cortege is for an important individual, but his identity is unknown so far. The street was known as Lassalle Street at the time, after the Prussian socialist philosopher Ferdinand Lassalle.

[00:28:25 on] Marriage and dusty street, Odesa? Location not found.

IMG_4486[00:29:02] Car procession, corner of Derybasivska Street and Pushkins’ka, Odesa. Part of the funeral cortege above? The corner dome of the huge Novikov Building can be seen in the background.

1913 Novikov Building, Derybasivska Street, Odesa. [M. Kalnytsky]

Current view of the same location. The camera was probably mounted on the camera car as the screenshot has a more elevated viewpoint. [Google Earth]

IMG_5188[00:29:16] [00:29:27] [00:29:33] MK filming in a double (triple?) exposure of angled buildings. Both buildings still exist on Strilets’ka Street in Kyiv. The building with the spire is on the corner of Reitarska Street where the ambulance garage is located [00:31:31].

[Google Earth]

[00:29:40] [00:29:59] [00:30:10] Okhotny Ryad, Moscow.

IMG_5200[00:29:44] Okhotny Ryad with a much clearer view of St Paraskeva church.

[00:29:45 on] Interior of the Palace Hotel [see 00:25:57]. The design of the doors confirms the location. It is assumed that the lift and telephone box in some of the scenes are also in the hotel, but this has not been verified. The poster for the Kyiv Opera that appears in [00:25:57] on the left of the doors is not visible. It may be concealed behind the wall or there may be two revolving doors into the hotel.

[00:30:23] [00:30:35] Teatral’nyy Projzed, Moscow.

IMG_5531[00:30:27 on] Multiple shots of the shadow of the glass entrance door seen at the beginning of the film [00:08:46] and likely to be the main courtyard entrance to the Ginzburg Skyscraper.

[00:30:31] The lobby of the Palace Hotel, Kyiv

[00:30:42] Tram passing balloons (same tram as in [01:04:11]?). Location unknown.

[00:30:50] Double exposure of Okhotny Ryad, Moscow.

[00:31:00] Camera in a car (assumed) careering around a corner, Moscow (assumed). Location not found.

[00:31:03] Speeded up traffic in Teatral’nyy Projzed, Moscow.

[00:31:10] to [00:31:31] Fast montage sequence starting with the front of a Kyiv tram (white panel on the front), with an eye looking over various street scenes. These frames have been analysed carefully and some interesting and significant locations in Kyiv have been found by Mykhailo Kalnytsky (the images are only seen for a fraction of a second and some are difficult to locate). We have been unable to locate the other fragmented images in the sequence with certainty (one looks like the view from the Bolshoi).

IMG_202007140743522 [00:31:11] Volodymyrska Street near the Opera House, Kyiv.

IMG_202007140743524Photograph c1930 from the same location (Opera House hidden on lhs). [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_202007140743523[00:31:11 next few frames] and [00:31:18] Lenina (now Bogdan Khmelnytsky) Street just below the intersection with Volodymyrska Street.  Contemporary photograph of the same buildings, probably taken from the same location as the screenshots. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5126Current view of the intersection with the Academy of Sciences on the right and the only surviving building in the screenshot in the background.[Google Earth/Activ Foto]

IMG_2020071407435215AContemporary street plan showing the camera location in a building on the corner of Lenina and Volodymyrska Streets. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_202007230805561aThese fragmentary shots and [00:31:18] [00:31:21] would probably have been taken from the corner balcony at 17 Lenina Street, on the corner of Volodymyrska. The building no longer exists. Shots from this location do not appear in any other part of the film. [M. Kalnytsky]


IMG_2020071407435210[00:31:12] [00:31:23]  Roof top views of a building on Halytska Square.

IMG_2020071407435211aContemporary view of the opposite side of Halytska Square to the one below. The building (which no longer exists) was on the corner of Taras Shevchenko Boulevard and Dmytrivska Street. The camera location can be confirmed as the roof of this building from the details of the attic window pediments. [M. Kalnytsky]

These fragmentary shots from the roof of a building on Halytska Square are interesting for two reasons. The fifth* high level camera location in Kyiv can be confirmed as the roof of this building from the fragmentary shots of the stone details on the top of the attic windows. Part of the wrought iron railing and lead or zinc roof covering can also be seen. The style of these shots (and others in this sequence) point to the use of a hand held automatic camera, most likely the Kinamo, and not the Debrie camera which is hand-cranked and weighs around 10kg. See my blog post on the cameras in the film for details. The more straightforward shots of the square (below) would most likely have been filmed with the Debrie to achieve the speeded up and reversed footage. You can see the small pavilion with a distinctive roof in the foreground of the contemporary photograph above on the lhs below.

*The others being the Red Kiev Hotel on Volodymyrska, 13 Velyka Vasylkivska, 28/2 Khreschatyk, and 17 Lenina Street.

IMG_4838[01:06:17 on] Views over Halytska Square (shots of trams and people, speeded up and reversed).

IMG_2020071407435218AContemporary street plan showing the camera location for the sequence in Halytska Square. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_202007140743521[00:31:18] [00:31:21] Fragmentary shot of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences on Volodymyrska Street, Kyiv. Taken from a building on the corner of Lenina Street (see above).

IMG_202007140743526Mid 20thC view of the Academy building. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5101Current view. [Google Earth]

IMG_202007140743528[00:31:25] Fragmentary shot of Velyka Vasylkivska Street, Kyiv, from the roof of No. 13 (see [00:18:48]). You can now see the full word АПТЕКА (pharmacy) on the side of the building.

IMG_202007140743527[00:31:29] Fragmentary shots of an apartment building on Velyka Vasylkivska Street taken from the roof of No. 13.

IMG_202007141004320Early 1900s postcard view of the building, looking towards L’va Tolstoho Square. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_2020071407435217Current view of the recently restored building. An interesting early 20thC apartment block by the undeservedly little known architect Pavlo Svatkovsky. [photograph M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5177[00:31:31 on] Ambulance sequence, Kyiv. The ambulance garage was behind 22 Reitarska Street. The address can be seen on the back of the ambulance and the price list [00:33:05 on].

IMG_202007160935191Recent photograph of the garage building in the courtyard of 22 Reitarska Street. The doors have been replaced with windows but the distinctive lintels are visible in the screenshot. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5178[00:31:41] The cameraman leaps into a car opposite the ambulance garage. The house behind still exists, below (the balconies have been changed, but the window details are recognisable).

IMG_20200716093519025 Reitarska Street. [photograph M. Kalnytsky]

[00:31:45] These houses have disappeared, but are seen on a contemporary photograph of the street looking NW towards the junction with Strilets’ka Street. No. 25 is in the background opposite the garage. The building with the corner tower in [00:29:16] is hidden on the rhs.

IMG_5186A similar view of the junction today. [Google Earth]

IMG_5185AGoogle Earth screenshot showing the garage and location of the building with the corner tower and spire on the corner of Strilets’ka and Reitarska Streets in [00:29:16 et al]. 22 Reitarska Street is still a medical clinic!


IMG_4808[00:31:49] [00:31:55] The ambulance and camera car have gone down Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard and turned left into Kominterna (now Symona Petlyury) Street. The building on the corner still exists, below.


[00:32:14] The ambulance collects the ‘injured man’ outside a house (No. 40) on Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard (the house has been demolished but the window and cellar opening from the far end are recognisable). Note the post on the lhs of the ambulance, also seen in [00:32:53].

There is a curious fragment of editing at [00:32:47] when the doors are closing on a different ambulance in front of a different house!

IMG_5209a[00:32:53] The ambulance goes down the northern carriageway of Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard (cobbled section). Note the post on the rhs, also seen next to the house in [00:32:14]. The boulevard was (and still is) divided by a wide tree lined pedestrian route (lhs). Tram lines were on the southern carriageway.

IMG_4488[00:32:34 on] Fire engine sequence, Odesa.

IMG_4689The Odesa Fire Brigade is still in the same building on the former Rosa Luxemburg Street over 90 years later! On the same street as the Philharmonic Theatre in [00:22:33].

20200720_104140The women and men of the Odesa Fire Brigade in 1930. [from ‘Odesa in Old Photographs’ by Y. Volokin et al., 2017]

IMG_202007230851122[00:32:55] The fire engine heads along Rosa Luxemburg (now Bunina) Street crossing  Schmidt (now Oleksandrivs’kyi) Avenue (the bell tower of the Intercession Church is seen in the background, demolished in the 1930s). A building on the corner of both streets is still recognisable. The fire engine is actually going in the opposite direction to the ones emerging from the fire station in [00:32:40].

IMG_4491[00:32:58] to [00:33:42] Ambulance and fire engine speeding through the streets sequence. A wonderful example of ‘Creative Geography’ as these scenes are set in two different cities but edited to look like the streets of one. The ambulance driver squeezing the rubber bulb of his horn regularly instead of a siren is a period touch! Mr Kalnytsky sent me an advertisement and price list from the Kyiv Directory of 1929 for the very same ambulance service!



Note: rising numeral 4 present in Eye/Lobster Films and other prints.

[00:33:49] Ginzburg Skyscraper courtyard facade, Kyiv.

[00:33:56] Traffic policeman with signal, MK with camera, on Kuznetsky Most, Moscow.

[00:34:00 on] Hairdressing and manicure sequences. Unknown location(s).

[00:34:07 on] Working activity scenes. Unknown location(s) except [00:36:20] and tobacco factory below.

[00:35:03] ‘Paris Specialist Cleaner’ shoeshine booth, Odesa? MK is wearing his white Odesa shirt but exact location not found.

[00:36:20] Traffic policeman, Kuznetsky Most, Moscow.

IMG_2020071407435225[00:36:29] Cigarette packets on a production line.

IMG_2020071407435221[00:36:42] Cheerful woman making packets for ‘Razkurochny’ cigarettes.

This was probably filmed at the well-known tobacco factory, on Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard near Halytska Square in Kyiv, established by the Kogen family in the 19thC. Confiscated after the Revolution and re-named ‘4th State Tobacco Factory’. A cigarette factory, possibly this one, also featured in Mikhail Kaufman’s 1927 film ‘Moscow’.


The factory name can be read (in a cursive font, with difficulty) on the back of the ‘Parol’ (Password) brand packets on the production line (above). On the front of the packet are the letters ‘YTT (UTT) for Ukrainian Tobacco Trust. The cheerful woman would have had an employee’s certificate from the factory as the cover below. [information from M. Kalnytsky]


A 1940s photograph of the fine looking tobacco factory at No. 74-76 Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard, constructed around 1903-1904. [M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5095a[00:36:37] [00:37:59] An unknown location, but an interesting detail. The 3 chervonets banknote on the counter (and below) was issued at the start of the New Economic Policy in late 1922 to try to stabilise the currency. One chervonets was equivalent to a pre-revolutionary ten roubles gold coin. There is an interesting description of this currency on the ‘Master & Margarita’ website.


IMG_5223[00:38:22 on] Coal mine in Rutchenkovo in the Donbas.

Vertov’s diary entry of June 22nd 1927 written in Zaporozh’e (on the Dnieper River) records filming in the Dzerzhinsky steelworks in Kamianske, but then goes on to describe filming underground in a mine, and at the end of the entry talks about wanting ‘to embrace and caress those gigantic smokestacks and black gas tanks’ (of the steelworks), the implication being that it is all in the same place. There are no coal mines in Kamianske (or Zaporozh’e), all the coal for the blast furnaces there come by rail from the Donbas so this entry is very confusing.

DV and MK in mine 2

Dziga Vertov and Mikhail Kaufman looking rather miserable in the mine at Rutchenkovo during filming of ‘The Eleventh Year’.

IMG_5231[00:39:19] Dzherzhinsky steelworks interior – a spectacular sequence of industrial images! See [00:08:30] for notes on the steelworks.

IMG_4284 (2)Typical contemporary Donbas scene of coke ovens (lhs), coal mine (rhs) and steelworks blast furnaces (background).

[00:40:35] [00:40:48] [00:40:55] [00:41:00] Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant, near Leningrad.

IMG_5243[00:41:08] [00:41:21] [00:41:32] [00:41:43] [00:41:50] [00:41:57] [00:42:04] MK and assistant in a suspended platform over the Volkhov Dam.

The Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant (Волховская ГEС) is on the river of the same name near to Lake Ladoga in the Leningrad Oblast (County). Opened in 1926 (but actually a pre-revolutionary design) and named after VI Lenin, it is the oldest hydroelectric plant still operating in Russia.

2470179205Current view of the dam and generating building taken from a similar position [fotostrana].

Shass-Kobelev_-_Lenin_and_electrification_1024x1024Contemporary poster celebrating Lenin’s electrification plans featuring the Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant.

IMG_4652[00:42:10] Split screen scene of trams in Moscow. Top is of Okhotny Ryad, bottom is of Myasnytska Street.

[00:42:52] Kuznetsky Most, Moscow? Not verified.

IMG_5560[00:42:59 on] Kuznetsky Most, Moscow. MK with Kinamo and Debrie Parvo cameras.

[00:43:10] As above, except the Parvo on a spreadeagled tripod without the cameraman.

IMG_5267[00:43:12 on] MK with Debrie camera(s) on Teatral’nyy Projzed, Moscow.

[00:43:24] Split screen scene of trams in Moscow. Top is of Okhotny Ryad, bottom is of Myasnitska Street.


Note: rising numeral 5 missing from Eye/Lobster print.

[00:44:42] Park Bridge, Kyiv.

IMG_4480[00:44:47 on] Arcadia Beach, Odesa.

IMG_4111[01:06:04] A wider view of the beach from the rapid montage sequence at the end of the film – note the building at the top right, and below, which was a spa and hydrotherapy centre and is now a hotel.

IMG_4643A quieter Arcadia Beach in the early 20thC. 

IMG_4248 (2)Information and photographs above from viknaodessa.

IMG_4482The building still exists as a hotel. [Google Earth – photograph by Wazza Production]

IMG_4117 (2)Current view of Arcadia Beach. The former hydrotherapy centre is marked with an arrow.[Google Earth – photograph by Sergii Kushnarov]

Named after an idyllic area of Greece to encourage visitors, Arcadia Beach was Odesa’s main seaside resort in the late 1920s, and still is. On the outskirts of the city, connected by tram, it was very popular from the start of its development at the end of the 19thC. There were restaurants, cafes, warm sea baths, a spa and hydrotherapy clinic, sanatoriums, and ‘a polyclinic with electro-mechano-therapeutic rooms’ which sounds intimidating! Next to the beach there was a pleasant seafront park with the inevitable monument to VI Lenin.

[00:45:28 on] Swimming and exercises, Odesa Port (see also [00:48:55] on). Confirmed by Yevgeny Volokin because of the distinctive iron mooring bollard.

[00:45:34 on] Conjuror and children sequences. Unknown location. There is a similar scene in ‘Kino-glaz’ (1924).

[00:45:50] Carousel (the same one as sequence [00:54:23]?). Likely to be Odesa but location not found.

IMG_4479[00:46:38 on] Athletics sequence, Odesa. The seating is similar to that seen in later sports sequences (see [00:54:15 on]).


[00:48:27 on] Trotting (Harness racing) at Moscow Hippodrome. The spectacular grandstand below does not appear in any of the footage, most likely because there were no spectators. This was difficult to locate because of the lack of clues but the (assumed) stables building at the end of the track on the left above appears in an early 1900s photograph of a race.

Moscow Hippodrome [Google Earth]. Only the left wing of the building seems to have survived, circled above.

[00:48:36 on] Horse riding on a track (?). Difficult to see if it is the same hippodrome as there are no clues except for the distinctive fence which isn’t seen in the trotting sequence. Location not verified.


[00:48:55 on] Diving, exercising, and swimming at Odesa Port (the harbour, not a swimming pool – note the large mooring bollards). The diving tower was located in the yacht club.

[00:49:47 on] Mud and sun bathing at Kuyal’nik resort, near Odesa.

A perfect example of ‘Creative Geography’: the impression of a journey by sea is given from the travel agent’s window advertising passage from Odesa to Jaffa on the ‘Lenin’ [00:19:17] and the ship leaving port [00:44:22].

The ‘Man with the Camera’ disembarks [00:50:15], and then goes on to a beach with his camera [00:50:48]. The resort is nowhere near Jaffa but actually on a land-locked shallow salt lagoon a few km by road from the centre of Odesa! The ship then returns to the city ‘after the holiday’ at the beginning of reel 6 [00:55:37].

[00:50:39 on] [00:52:03 on] Exercise machines at Kuyal’nik Sanatorium? Not verified.

IMG_4087[00:50:48] MK walks across the beach at Kuyal’nik

IMG_4189 (3)The same view today with the ruins of the pier from the Sanatorium in the background (Google Earth – photograph by Vladimir Percenko).

IMG_4358 (2)Late 19thC postcard showing the Kuyal’nik Sanitorium in its heyday.

Current Google Earth images showing the derelict Sanatorium and remains of its pier.

[00:52:14] Disembodied weight lifter, Kuyal’nik? Not verified.

IMG_4738[00:53:05] Netball sequence at the ‘Red Stadium’ in Kyiv.

IMG_4792Overall view of the stadium with a ‘human chess’ event! The netball would have been played at the top left judging by the large building on the lhs in the background and in the screenshot which was on Zhilyanska Street, since demolished for the Olympic Stadium .

[00:53:28 on] Football (part?) and intermittent athletics sequences, Odesa. The sports ground can be located as in one of the frames there is a glimpse of a nearby church and churchyard which is St John of Kronstadt, unrecognisable today from the beautiful building below right. The spectator seating below left can be seen in the athletics and some of the shots of the football match. It isn’t clear if the rest of the match is being filmed in the stadium.

IMG_4735The sports ground still exists, called Dynamo. The church is just above the rh end [Google Earth].

IMG_5288[00:54:19 on] Motor cycles on a track. The banked part of the track is seen during the sequence in a triple horizontal exposure ([00:54:48] check the broken concrete line!) to give the impression it was wider and there were more ‘competitors’.

I have not yet found the location of this track which I think was a velodrome (cycling track) as is too narrow for a motor racing circuit compared to Brooklands in Surrey (UK) for example. It seems to be in a semi-derelict condition (top image below [00:54:26]) which implies it was old in the late 1920s. It could be one of two early velodromes (cycle racing tracks) in Kyiv. The later one seems to have been in use at the time of the film (location map below) but I cannot find any record of the first one built at Bibikovsky Boulevard in 1899. There were also early velodromes in Kharkiv, Odesa, and Donetsk. For a visual comparison there was a later velodrome in Odesa (bottom image below) built in 1929.  Investigations continue!

IMG_202007041315330a1925 location map (Kyiv Public Utilities Department #311) of the second (1913) Kyiv Velodrome which has been restored and is in use again. The diagonal road at the bottom is Bogdan Khmelnytsky Street. [map courtesy of M. Kalnytsky]

IMG_5300[00:54:22 on] Carousel sequences, in Odesa judging by the clothing. Exact location not found. The carousel is actually ‘mirrored’ in parts of this sequence (as in this screenshot – the camera is the wrong way around!). Perhaps for artistic reasons to contrast with the motor cycles going around the track in the opposite direction?


Note: rising numeral 6 missing from Eye/Lobster print.

IMG_4651[00:55:40] Prymorskyi Boulevard, Odesa. Views over the Port. 

[00:55:48] Proletarian Cinema, (later Beaumonde [Бомонд] Cinema), October Revolution Square, Odesa.

IMG_4164[00:55:59] Giant camera overlooking Sofiys’ka Square, Kyiv. The angle of view is  narrower than the previous one overlooking Volodymyrska Street (see screenshot [00:07:03]) as the 21cm Krauss Zeiss telephoto lens would probably have been used here (this is the lens that is most commonly seen in the film). See my blog post on the cameras in the film for details of the lenses.

Current views of Sofiys’ka Square and statue – the building behind the statue of Bogdan Khmelnytsky is recognisable in the screenshot from the film [top: Google Earth; bottom: Ukrainian Trip Adviser]. Sofiys’ka is one of the main squares of Kyiv, overlooked by the Cathedral of St Sophia.


IMG_4221[00:57:06] ‘Drunken’ views over a candle shop and church (former St Elijah’s Monastery) converted into the VI Ulyanov (Lenin’s real name) workers’ club, Pushkins’ka Street, Odesa.

IMG_4237 (2)Current view of  St Elijah’s Monastery, beautifully restored, with a religious scene over the gates instead of Lenin!

[00:57:40] Rifle range. Location not found.

IMG_4627[00:58:29] Drinks shop, Kyiv (city name on fascia). An example of private enterprise during the NEP era. Exact location not found.