Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1926. Item #340
75 pp.: ill. 17x13 cm. In original photomontage wrappers. Some wear of the wrappers, loss of the small piece of the rear cover, Soviet bookshop’s ink stamp on the rear cover, very rare foxing in text, otherwise very good.
Rare. First edition of the second book. One of 10000 copies.
Despite a general propaganda agenda of the book (newsreel as a weapon of agitation and an ideology form) it presents interesting materials on this specific type of cinema - newsreel. It accompanied by photographs: shooting of Battleship Potyomkin, shooting of Red Square during military parade, ‘subbotnik’ in 1920, Red Army in 1918, American and English shots - all taken from newsreel.
Grigory Moiseevich Boltiansky (1885-1953), Soviet film historian, director, professor, founder of the revolutionary newsreel and one of the founders of Soviet cinematography. He was teaching at VGIK since 1931 where he organized newsreel department. He also founded the first museum of cinema in 1926 under State Academy of Artistic Sciences (both were destroyed in 1932 when all art groups were banned). Interesting that the museum was never reopened (materials were saved in different collections) probably because the history and history of cinema was rewritten every ten years so there was no need in archives, in newsreel, in historic re-evaluation.
In the beginning author gives a brief history on first newsreels (western ‘‘bourgeois’’ newsreel ‘hiding class contradictions’), modern news cinema and their technical advancement. The author continues with Russian pre-Revolutionary state of newsreel (the beginning of regular shows was in 1912). It’s ironic how he states that ‘‘Soviet newsreel put forward the true creator of history - the masses instead of the cult of the personality of the bourgeois chronicle’’. Author briefly describes current state of Soviet newsreel (poor), and moves on to influence which newsreel had on feature films (e.g. Battleship Potiomkin) and also vice versa (new methods in newsreel which came from films are close-ups, close details, cutaways, etc.). He also analyses the appearance of a new genre - agitka (short propaganda chronicle). Boltiansky mentions the Kinoks (‘kino-oki’, i.e. cinema-eyes) which was a collective of Soviet filmmakers in 1920s Russia, based most notably around famous Dziga Vertov. Even though author calls their art theories ‘formal sectarianism’ he values their practical achievements in newsreel (but he considers it to be more of feature than documentary nature).
Next part dedicated to technical details of newsreel: work specialty (three types of newsreel workers - producer, editor and cameraman, additionally - gaffer), equipment, shooting plan and its two phases - preparational and technical, editing, captions (being one of the most important parts of the whole process). Last part is about amateur film chronicles - types of cameras (with photographs), what and how to shoot, what to do with material, etc.
Overall, an interesting piece with reference to such important signs of an era like the Kinoks and agitka.
Worldcat locates paper copies in MOMA and University of Southern California.