Nyman With A Movie Camera is a 64-minute, shot-for-shot remake of Dziga Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera with a live score played by the Michael Nyman Band. Nyman has been heavily involved in cinema for most of his working life, creating the Oscar-winning score for Jane Campion’s The Piano and numerous other features including Peter Greenaway’s Drowning By Numbers and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover.
Conceived and directed by Nyman, Nyman With A Movie Camera painstakingly reconstructs Vertov’s iconic silent picture of 1929 using footage from Nyman’s own film archives shot over the last two decades. A press release offers some further explanation:
“Deeply rooted in Vertov’s original ideas concerned with ‘the perception of truth’, the documentation of ‘life as it is’ and that of ‘life caught unawares’, Nyman’s film attempts to capture the essence of ‘what is there’, and reflects on what he calls ‘the persistence of glance’ a multi-sensorial experience of time as it occurs, of life as it happens and as recorded by the human memory. The film is a modern-day take on experimental documentary film making through the bias of cinematographic collage and proposes to renew a discourse with the ideological and aesthetic precepts once defended by Vertov in his pursuit of the ultimate ‘cleaning up’ of film language from the ‘corrupting influence’ of drama.”
“Nyman’s previous engagement with Vertov’s film dates back to 2003 when he composed the original musical score for Man With a Movie Camera. The encounter with the Russian master was instrumental in defining Nyman’s own aesthetic phraseology and experimentation with the medium of film and documentary. In Man With a Movie Camera, the shot sequence follows a systematic and paced visual pattern in an attempt to mimic the language of the visible, the raw and the unscripted.
“Vertov’s driving vision was to capture ‘film truth’ — that is, fragments of reality, which when organized together have a deeper truth that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Whilst Vertov’s rhythmic patterning unifies the aesthetic surface of his film, Nyman’s choice of footage for Nyman With a Movie Camera, is a random punctuation of a visual text drawn from his own film and sound repertoires and from his photographic archives. The result is a patchwork of imagery embroidered in Vertov’s threads of the newsreel and of the dogmatic values of the film truth.”
Heady stuff. The Barbican show will also feature a performance of song-cycle The Glare by The Michael Nyman Band and singer David McAlmont.
It’s been a productive year for Nyman, who earlier this year released the sumptuous CINE OPERA box set in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory.