A new century of war

CINEMA: Thought lost forever, Dziga Vertov's 1921 archive of the Russian Civil War finally debuts to the public 100 years later.

To watch Dziga Vertov’s The History of the Civil War a hundred years after it was made is to be struck by just how much the century has transformed the representation of armed conflict and wrangling over territory. We are struck by Russia’s insurmountable vastness, which could still only be glimpsed in snatches. We sense the fragmentation and accompanying chaos of efforts to assert ideological dominance and homogeneity over impossible distances. It is to recognise anew, in other words, how unmediated the world was, in a pre-internet era, before an illusion of intimate accessibility and knowability virtually shrunk the globe. A work of impassioned and unapologetic propaganda, it shows the struggle of the Bolsheviks to quash the efforts of White Guard counter-revolutionaries, or «agents of Capital» as they are referred to in inter-titles, in violent pockets of fighting far across the former Empire’s expanses during the Russian Civil War that followed the 1917 overthrow of the monarchy.

The History of the Civil War, a film by Dziga Vertov
The History of the Civil War, a film by Dziga Vertov

Lost no more

It was long believed that this silent . . .

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Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
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