A brilliant demonstration of Dziga Vertov's radical film theories, Kino-Eye, made in 1924, is a full-length record of Soviet life caught unawares: rare glimpses of men, women, children and institutions in the young Soviet state. Vertov's rejection of narrative structure as “the opium of the masses” and his endorsement of “ordinary people filmed in everyday life and at work” as the fit subject for cinematic art are manifest throughout Kino-Eye, where life directly perceived comprises the content and determines the shape of the entire film.
Filmed with a single camera, Kino-Eye (intended as only the first of a six-part series, the rest of which was not completed) was intended to show the camera becoming part of life and recording whatever entered its field of vision - “separate frames of truth... thematically organized so that the whole is also truth” - an idea realized fully only in Vertov's The Man With a Movie Camera (1929). In order to decompose phenomena and events into their constituent parts, Kino-Eye “uses all the shooting methods available to the camera: ultra-high speed, microcinematography; reverse motion; animation, multiple-exposure and shooting from completely unexpected angles, handled not as tricks but as normal, widely-used methods.”
Calling themselves “Kinoki” (“Camera-eyes”), Vertov and his team, infected by the Russian Futurists' faith in machines, saw the movie camera not only as an extension of the human eye, but also as a more perfect device for perceiving reality. (“Dziga Vertov” is Denis Kaufman's pseudonym, meaning “spinning top.”)