Dziga Vertov, the Soviet filmmaker, started a revolution in the field of cinema with his technique of Kino Eye (kino glaz). Through his 1924 silent film of the same name, Vertov sought to capture what he believed was inaccessible to the human eye.
Shot in fragmented style, with striking intertitles in between reels, the film documents the day to day lives of people in Soviet Russia. In the first half of the documentary, activities such as the distribution of bread, and the joyful children singing and participating in various social gatherings is shown. The tone of the film gets dark in the second half with focus on the healthcare and few scenes from insane Asylum.
Kino Eye is known for its use of camera and editing techniques. One of the most noticeable aspects of this film is the repetitive use of footage in reverse. The un-slaughtering of the bull, un-making of the bread and the diver coming out of the pool – they all contribute to the film’s artistic aspirations. Another great sequence is of the incoming train, which was shot by placing the camera in a stationary position on the railway track. This low angle shot is remarkable. Other shots that are of significance are the aerial shots and the iris-in and iris-out. Vertov also experimented with different camera angles using this mechanical eye in order to render truth that could not be otherwise achieved. By placing the camera at certain angles, and especially on moving vehicles, Vertov captured space in a manner that elevated the visual artistry of the film.
The use of montage editing, different camera angles and the camera effects make this an important avant-garde film. Kino Eye is crucial when studying the evolution of cinema in its present form. The visuals of this film, even after almost a century of its initial release, remain a visual treat.