A lyrical documentary on the lives of Coal miners in the Donbass who are struggling to meet their production quotas under the Five Year Plan. Vertov’s first sound film, Enthusiasm explores the complex interaction between sound and image.
“To see and hear life, to note its turns and turning points, to catch the crunch of the old bones of everyday existence beneath the press of the revolution, to follow the growth of the young Soviet organism, to record and organize the individual characteristics of life’s phenomena into a whole, an essence, a conclusion – this is our immediate objective. It is an objective with tremendous and far from merely experimental significance. It’s a general checkup on our entire transitional time and at the same time, an on-the-spot checkup, among the masses, on each individual decree or resolution. It’s a thermometer or aerometer of our reality, and its significance is unquestionably higher than the inventions of individual authors, individual writers or directors. Of course this objective is beyond the strength of several people, or even several dozen people, it’s an objective to be placed on the scale of the entire Soviet State.”
“Vertov’s first sound film, principally concerned with the spirited group effort by miners of the Don coal basin, is a lyrical articulation of the exhilaration of that effort – the fusion of isolated energies and personalities in a common force. This theme is complemented by the discontinuities that separate the film’s various parts, all of which ultimately work towards the expression of a unified statement.. Just as the value of each individual effort in a group endeavor is seen be Vertov as indissoluble and indispensable, the separate values of sound and image, shot and sequence are each given their due: no single element is allowed to become the servant (or master) of another.”
“What one is most struck by in the first section of Enthusiasm is the sense of incredible tension that exists between the sound and the visuals. The sound physically pushes itself away from the screen, and the two seem related in the manner of magnets with like poles aligned – physically separate, but interacting through lines of force. Because of this dynamism, we are continually made aware of the sound track and visual track as separate entities.”
- 1. Dziga Vertov, Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, red. Annette Michelson, translated by Kevin O’Brien (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 209.
- 2. Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Paris Journal, September-October 1972 (Enthusiasm, Tout va bien, The Enchanted Desna),” www.jonathanrosenbaum.net, 25 August 2021.
- 3. Lucy Fisher, “‘Enthusiasm’: From Kino-Eye to Radio-Eye,” Film Quarterly 31, No. 2 (1977-1978): 25-34.