With no story and no actors, the film simply follows a man travelling around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.
As The Man with the Movie Camera begins, the cameraman climbs out of the “head” of the camera. The film then takes its viewer on a humorous, kaleidoscopic ride through Soviet cities while drawing parallels between the moviemaker and the factory laborer, and exposing the filmmaking process. At one moment Vertov presents a man riding a motorcycle, and then, surprisingly, he shows us shots of the cameraman filming the motorcycle, then shots of the editor editing those shots. Part documentary and part cinematic art, this film follows a city in the 1920s Soviet Union throughout the day, from morning to night. Directed by Dziga Vertov, with a variety of complex and innovative camera shots, the film depicts scenes of ordinary daily life in Russia. Vertov celebrates the modernity of the city, with its vast buildings, dense population and bustling industries. While there are no titles or narration, Vertov still naturally conveys the marvels of the modern city.