Jasmim Bettencourt’s review published on Letterboxd:
A symphony of images. Reality without hindrances. A man walks with a camera, filming reality as he goes. A dream of reality. An overwhelming sea of images of every day life overflow the screen. The day begins and the city slowly wakes up. The cosmopolitan fast-pacedness of modernity is captured by the watchful eye of the man-camera. These images are neither captured by man or machine - they are captured by an utopian hybrid - cinema. Pure cinema. Unhindered cinema. No other art, just the art of the moving image. No fiction, just the hard and harsh reality turned into a fever dream of images that shoot past our us, flickering us and hypnotize us, sucking us into it. Man with a Movie Camera isn't just a film, it's something that transcends itself and yet it's very much itself. Never have I seen a film that is so purely cinema, untainted by anything else, something completely independent and new. No story, no narrative, just the musicality of a day in the Soviet Union in the 20's, with the promise of a modern communist utopia filling every one of its images to the brim. A woman wakes up. The city wakes up. The buses and electric cars circulate through the arteries of the city. The trains transport people and goods through the country. In the beaches, people enjoy their worker's rights of vacationing. Men and women exercise, communing with each other through physicality. Women learn how to swim. In the factories and in the mines, workers work together for the greater good. In the community center, workers read the newspaper and play chess, enjoying a break from the labours of the day. All of them are watched by the ever-watching watchful eye of the man-camera. Almost like a god, he shoots every day life, both the intimate and the public. He captures the amusement of a child and the sorrow of a divorcing wife. He captures the choreography of the telephonists, connecting wires, connecting calls. He captures the choreography of factory engines, the beauty of the mechanical modern life. An ode to modernity, an ode to the future, an ode to an utopia. And we are overwhelmed by it. We are overwhelmed by the fast-paced montages, the stream of images that run through the screen and threaten to overflow into our reality - how real they are. We watch what the man-camera watches and we watch the man-camera himself in a work of self-awareness. The machine is alive, the image is alive, and they are very much aware of themselves. We see the editor working in the editing room as she cuts film and glues film together. We witness the editing as it goes. We witness the film building itself as it goes. For despite it being a machine, it is organic, it is human. And like humans, it has self-awareness. Man with a Movie Camera has self-awareness. It's living, ever-living, eternally living, as long as there are sentient beings to watch it. It's nothing like anything else. It's always changing, molding, melding, feverish, hypnotizing, entrancing. There is so much reality in it that images start melding into each other, confusing each other. Two, three, four moments merging into each other. A hyper reality, more real than reality itself. And we are drowned in it - in its eclecticness. For 68 minutes there is nothing else. For 68 minutes there is only images following each other rapidly, feverishly, transcendently - the vision of the organic and mechanic, the cybernetic man-camera that watches over everything, capturing a moment of reality for ever and ever, capturing the early promises of a Communist utopia that would never be. Dziga Vertov does something that is ever-innovating and ever-changing, truly miraculous and truly utopian. Man with a Movie Camera is a true utopia of cinema. It's the perfect immersion into reality in order to comprehend it. There is no need for narrative, there is no need for theatre, there is no need for any other art. There is just cinema and the musicality of images edited together into a visual symphony and the choreography of the natural motion of the city, nature, the world. I am in love with this film. Never have I seen such a film that is so purely cinema, that captures cinema so purely. It completely grips at us without needing anything else to hold onto, it just needs itself. With just images, Vertov is able to craft a film that is more exhilarating and embracing than any action film ever made. Man with a Movie Camera is that small piece of precious gold that is extracted from a gold ore, only it is the most precious piece of cinema ever extracted from the world. It's unhindered by any drama or any comedy, it's just pure image and it's just pure human emotion. What more can I say? Any string of words will always fall short in describing the pure experience that is watching this masterpiece of cinema, simply because this film is so purely image, and putting image into words is a hopeless endeavour. This is something that transcends anything else. It's truly an unmatched achievement of the art of motion pictures, simply because it is that so purely - motion and pictures - entrancing us in the delicious music that isn't heard with our ears. This is the most universal and pure expression of cinema and, therefore, it should be watched by every human being. Everyone should watch it. It should be a mandatory work of art for everyone, for there is nothing that captures the spirit of modernity quite like it and there is nothing that captures the beauty of reality quite like it. There is nothing quite like it. Truly. When it finished I was at a loss of words, with my mind spinning, suddenly feeling myself fall back into my sit, having had all my senses sucked into this portal of a film for 68 minutes. My world was rocked to its core like nothing ever was able to do. Few films have changed me so much, and few films have inflamed my passion for the seventh art in enormous proportion quite like this film. Truly, truly, I am shooketh. And I will forever thank Dziga Vertov for crafting this absolutely mind-blowing experience, this film that is both organic and mechanic, this cybernetic experience - the ever-present watchful vision of the man-camera.