Dziga Vertov: Life and Work (Volume 1: 1896–1921)

Dziga Vertov: Life and Work (Volume 1: 1896–1921)


John MacKay

Series: Film and Media Studies
ISBN: 9781618117342 (hardcover)
Pages: approx. 450 pp.; 35 illus.; 2 charts
Publication Date: October 2018


Largely forgotten during the last 20 years of his life, the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954) has occupied a singular and often controversial position over the past sixty years as a founding figure of documentary, avant-garde, and political-propaganda film practice. Creator of "Man with a Movie Camera" (1929), perhaps the most celebrated non-fiction film ever made, Vertov is equally renowned as the most militant opponent of the canons of mainstream filmmaking in the history of cinema. This book, the first in a three-volume study, addresses Vertov's youth in the largely Jewish city of Bialystok, his education in Petrograd, his formative years of involvement in filmmaking, his experiences during the Russian Civil War, and his interests in music, poetry and technology.

Related Media:

John MacKay talks about his forthcoming book, Dziga Vertov: Life and Work. Professor MacKay's research interests include 19th & 20th-century Russian literature, Russian and Soviet culture, comparative literature, literary and cultural theory, film studies, especially film theory and documentary cinema.

Sarah Lewis, Co-Curator of the Eighth International SITE Santa Fe Biennial, interviews John MacKay, Chair of Film Studies Program and Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures at Yale University. Video courtesy of SITE Santa Fe

John MacKay is Professor of Film and Media Studies and Professor and Chair of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University. He received a PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale in 1998 and a BA in English from the University of British Columbia in 1987.

Table of Contents

Note on Abbreviations, Transliteration, and Translations
Introduction. How Did It Begin?
Chapter 1. Province of Universality: David Kaufman before the War (1896–1914)
Chapter 2. Social Immortality: David Kaufman at the Psychoneurological Institute (1914–16)
Chapter 3. The Beating Pulse of Living Life: Musical, Futurist, Nonfiction, and Marxist Matrices (1916–18)
Chapter 4. Christ among the Herdsmen: From Refugee to Propagandist (1918–22)
Film Archives Consulted