Dziga Vertov, Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbas, 1930. Courtesy Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kyiv

Dziga Vertov, Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbas, 1930. Courtesy Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kyiv

Dziga Vertov, Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbas, 1930. Courtesy Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, Kyiv

Vertov’s first sound film, shot in the coal-rich Donbas area of Eastern Ukraine, was the first time real industrial sounds were used to create an independent musical composition for film. The filmmaker, his wife Elisaveta Svilova and team of kinoks (cinema-eyes) filmed and recorded most of Enthusiasm on location in the Donbas. They aimed to ‘grasp the feverish reality of life in the Donbas, to convey as true to life as possible its atmosphere of the clash of hammers, of train whistles, of the songs of workers at rest.’

Rhythm is revealed as having a dual power: as a mobilising, disciplinary force, as the inspiration for revolutionary enthusiasm, and as the regulator of new economies of movement. Vertov experiments with the associative potential of image and sound and how they can be mutually exchanged.  

The film was dedicated to Stalin’s first Five Year Plan (1928 – 1932), it glorified industrialisation and collectivisation as well as propagandised the fight against illiteracy and religion. As Lenin stated in 1922 ‘[The Donbass] is the centre, the real basis of our entire economy. There can be no question of any renewal of heavy industry in Russia, no question of any real construction of socialism (for there is no way to build it except through heavy industry), if we do not revive the Donbass and bring it back up to the mark.’ Enthusiasm was shot during the year when the Ukrainisation program was cut down, so the camera still captured many indications of Ukrainisation in Donbas, when the Ukrainian national identity continued to develop.

The film was released in cinemas on April 2, 1931, but shortly after was removed from distribution and forgotten. It was rediscovered only in the 1960s due to the renewed interest to the Soviet avant-garde in the West. Enthusiasm was restored by the National Dovzhenko Film Studios on request of the State Film Agency of Ukraine in 2011.

‘I would never have believed it possible to assemble mechanical noises to create such beauty. One of the most superb symphonies I have known. Dziga Vertov is a musician’. (Charlie Chaplin)

Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbas, dir: Dziga Vertov, 1930. VUFKU Studios Ukraine, DCP, 67min + Q&A. Courtesy Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre.

Presented as part of Levels of Democracy: Ukraine Film Weekend, more information about all the films in the series here.

Film Pass Three: Levels of Democracy: Ukraine Film Weekend
Fri 18 – Sun 20 March
£30 Full Price / £25 Concession
Includes entrance to all films in the series. Offer excludes Test Dept live soundtrack, separate tickets available here
Film Passes can only be booked via the Tyneside Cinema Box Office.

Enthusiasm (Symphony of the Donbas)
Dziga Vertov

£7.50/£6, book here
Film Pass Three, £30/£25

Sun 20 March, 12.45pm (67min + Q&A)

Tyneside Cinema

10 –12 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle
NE1 6QG
tynesidecinema.co.uk
Box Office 0191 227 5500