Documentary Studies - Robert Flaherty, Dziga Vertov and Leni Riefenstahl

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Danilo E. Chaves ESSAY ANSWER TO QUESTION #1 Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera and Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North were both conceived as educational devices. While both attempt to give viewers a new perspective on filmmaking, both differentiate significantly from each other regarding the delivered message, the context and the aesthetics. Vertov’s film aims to increase people’s awareness about the process of filmmaking, while Flaherty’s attempts to revive the viewers long lost “innocent eyes” by focusing on a preconceived Romantic perspective. As an important part of the Soviet Cultural Revolution, Vertov’s works were conceived mainly to transform people’s consciousness regarding political and social matters. Increasing the critical awareness and thought of the masses towards the deception of film was one of Vertov’s main goals as a filmmaker. Vertov’s writing gave the camera the ability to perceive patterns that the common audience would not be aware of. One of the many tools used in his films for accentuating these implied messages to the masses is the use of metaphors as a rhetorical device. In the beginning of his film Man With a Movie Camera, the audience is presented with a scene showing someone sweeping and washing the streets. This scene metaphorically conveys the idea of cleansing the bourgeois narrative. Bill Nichols explains in his book Introduction to Documentary that metaphors enrich and enliven our grasp of the world (Kindle eBook loc. 1287). The metaphor seen in the film’s first ten minutes alludes to the upbringing of a new state of consciousness, a fresh perspective on filmmaking that could be perceived only through the critical camera’s eye. To strengthen the idea that there is more than meets the eye, Vertov resorts to special effects as a way of transcending the limitation of time and space, focusing not on the story that is
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