Dziga Vertov’s Soviet Toys

Jonathan Crow in Open Culture:

Consisting largely of simple line drawings, the film might lack the verve and visual sophistication that marked A Man with a Movie Camera, but Vertov still displays his knack for making striking, pungent images. Yet those who don’t have an intimate knowledge of Soviet policy of the 1920s might find the movie — which is laden with Marxist allegories — really odd.

Soviet Toys came out in 1924, during Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP), which gave some market incentives to small farmers. Not surprisingly, the farmers started producing a lot more food than before, and soon a whole new class of middleman traders formed — the reviled “NEPmen.”

The movie opens with a NEPman — a bloated caricature of a Capitalist (who coincidentally looks vaguely like Nikita Khrushchev) — devouring a massive heap of food. He’s so stuffed that he spends much of the rest of the movie sprawled out on the floor, much in the same way one might imagineJamie Dimon after Thanksgiving dinner. Then he belches riches at a woman who is can-canning on his distended belly.

More here.