Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Secular Demigoddess

Have you ever seen Dziga Vertov's film Man With A Movie Camera? It's an amazing piece of radical art. Instead of using the montage techniques pioneered by D.W. Griffith to tell a story, à la his countrymen Pudovkin and Eisenstein, Vertov deployed them as a means of subverting the power of traditional narrative. Shots are grouped by content and form, but rarely do they force viewers to contort their sense of reality to fit a story arc.

Because Vertov was what we now call a documentary filmmaker, his subjects were real people. One of my favorite parts of the film is the section devoted to athletic pursuits, in which buff men and women disport themselves in a carefree manner. There are times, though, when Vertov's admirable resistance to storytelling metamorphoses into the stylization associated with propaganda. Ordinary people become signs of an extraordinary society, but at the expense of their ordinariness.

And yet, I have to admit that I'm strangely attracted to the ideal types that result from this stylization. Maybe it's the German in me -- I have a soft spot for the tough-looking babes in Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia too -- but secular deification turns me on. That's why I was so pleased with this photograph I took the other night:

Here's a woman transformed into the type of woman who gives no nickel, much less quarter. I can see her soaring over some proletarian backdrop in one of those revolutionary posters that now provide an endless resource for irony miners.

Of course, the fact that Kim actually comes pretty close to meeting that ideal of womanhood in her actually existing existence helps to tether my flight of fancy to something concrete. Believe me, I'd rather be tethered there than anywhere. My beloved revolutionary sweetheart indeed. . .


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