Dziga Vertov – Soviet Toys (1924)

In the film “Soviet toys”, a burding and morally decaying bourgeois was shown, whose belly, stuffed with a myriad of money, was ripped off by a “centaur” consisting of a peasant and a worker.

The film ended with a remarkable happy end: a Red Army man appeared, and all the proletarians formed a New Year tree, in which the enemies of Soviet society hung in the form of toys-bourgeois, prostitutes, “ministers of the cult”, etc. Such an “apotheosis” was performed in the spirit of the early Soviet film artifacts, and its abstract symbolism looked in 1924 all the same anachronistic.

However, the audience judged otherwise. “Soviet toys” they were willing to watch – much like playing Russian films pre-revolutionary production. In this there is nothing paradoxical: the finale of the Vertovian animation was no more new and realistic than the symbolic scenes of happiness in the pre-revolutionary cinema.
Moreover: the aesthetics of “Soviet toys” was determined by the same taste and attitude toward art, which differed amateur theatrical productions in “decent” provincial families of the early twentieth century.
Vertov’s intuition came into conflict with his limitations. He felt the direction in which he had to work, but could not think of any complicated plot, so he multiplied the tricks. Of course, the technique of animation in Soviet cinema at that time was at an extremely low level, in fact, was born from scratch. In addition, Vertov, as we know from his manifestos, denied all the game cinematography. But the artistic wretchedness of the “Soviet toys” was not due to the fact that Vertov “did not want” to condescend to the level of militants or melodramas despised by him. On the contrary, it is explained just by the level of understanding of the game cinematography (and the undefined ideas about the art that have evolved around the provincial domestic plays).
Hence, in the image of “cinematography” appearing in the advertising “makeweight” to “Soviet toys”, there is a distinctly tangible scent of a cheap detective. For the same reason, in the surviving photo from the “Humoresque” are recognized heroes, the stylistics of the French serials of the 1910s about the adventures of Fantomas, Zigomarov, Vampires, etc.
Alexander Deryabin, Vertov and animation: a novel that was not, “Kinovedcheskie zapiski”