The Russian Revolution, so often monumentalized as a singular event—not least by the Bolsheviks themselves—was an inherently plural happening, involving the disparate actions and aspirations of peasants, workers, national minorities, and many others. Although early Soviet cinema certainly partook of the dominant “productivist” and progressivist ideology of the period, it also explored, sometimes willy-nilly, the revolutionary “event” as something multiple and even uncentered. This paper, focused on the work of Dziga Vertov, investigates a number of ways—including the valorization of artisanal creative practice and a radical inquiry into the possibilities of montage—that film remained faithful to that plurality and might even offer strategies for critiquing the presentist ideology of our own time.

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