Classical film theorists are commonly divided into two opposing camps. In one are placed those, such as Rudolf Arnheim and V. I. Pudovkin, who “put their faith in the image,” to borrow André Bazin's phrase, arguing that “the most aesthetically significant feature of the film medium is its capacity to manipulate reality, that is, to rearrange and thereby reconstitute the profilmic event (the event that transpires in front of the camera).” In the other belong realists, like Bazin and Siegfried Kracauer, who “put their faith in reality,” believing that “the truly cinematic film stays as close to recording as possible, eschewing the interpretation, recreation, or reconstitution of reality.” One of the many unusual things about the films and writings of Dziga Vertov is that they appear to straddle both camps at once.

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