Blade Runner (1982) and Soviet montage documentary The Man with the Movie Camera (1929) are two films not easily reconciled on first glance—one is a widely praised masterpiece, well known as a touchstone of science-fiction cinema, and perhaps Ridley Scott’s finest work; the other is a little-known film by a little-known director from the 1920s, obscure and inaccessible in its daring embrace of the avant-garde. The discordancy is predictable given Dziga Vertov’s deeply unconventional “kinok” style of cinema, which The Man with the Movie Camera stunningly showcases. The Vertovian style was in fact so radically opposed to popular cinematic form that Vertov classified it, and his movement of kinoks, as categorically removed from the historical cinematic tradition (as represented by a contemporary filmmaker such as Sergei Eisenstein).

Blade Runner represents a similar brand of filmmaking against which Vertov would have railed: preoccupation with psychological drama, Hollywood conventions, and mass appeal are facets of cinematic design roundly dismissed by the kinok philosophy. There is undoubtedly contention between the films of Scott and Vertov when it comes to the matter of reality and how it is examined through the use of science-fiction. Vertov’s radicalism sought to redefine cinema’s capability to capture the real, championing constructivism in order to empower cinematic structure towards Soviet political ideals. Scott’s Blade Runner is a different breed, sympathetic as it is towards (distinctively Western and American) ideas of popular filmmaking and fiction. Nevertheless, this sympathy for the popular hides the same radical questions and sentiments which embody Vertov’s work. Scott’s interrogation of reality, epitomised by the dichotomy of human and replicant, holds numerous similarities with Vertov’s own form of science-fiction, principally The Man With the Movie Camera’s layout of the kino-eye. The duality of man and machine, and the uncertain spectre of the cyborg which hangs in-between, unites these two otherwise strange bedfellows.

We must first acknowledge the political ideas behind Vertov’s cinema, if we are to grasp their significance for Scott’s Blade Runner. Vertov wrote various theoretical treatises, in which he denounced the fundamental conceptualisation of cinematography and its proponents, proposing kinochestvo in its place, a new and improved filmic methodology. This extreme call for change has a complex background. It was moulded around the tenets of 1920s constructivism and futurism, and was motivated by the Marxist-Leninist utopian ideal.

As professed in Vertov’s We: Variant of a Manifesto (1919), this approach promoted the filming of “life caught unawares” (essentially the documentation of reality) and the dismantlement of the “old films, based on the romance, theatrical films and the like.” These constructs of fiction and bourgeois sensibility were “leprous”, “contagious”, and “mortally dangerous”;[1] what Vertov desired was a “film-factory of facts”[2] to supplant established cinema. Vertovian theory was strikingly provocative, and its unabashed rebellion garnered Vertov widespread ridicule and criticism from his more mainstream contemporaries, such as Sergei Eisenstein or Vladimir Pudovkin: he was roundly dismissed and deemed a “joke”, his film mere “trickery.”[3] What relevance, then, can the philosophy of a film such as The Man with the Movie Camera hold with that of Blade Runner, other than hostility? Despite contemporary neglect, Vertov’s transgressions within early cinematic history have now been recognised for their seminal impact on the medium, and such impact is nowhere more prevalent than in comparison with Ridley Scott’s science-fiction classic.

Before we can understand how Scott crafts Blade Runner in relation to Vertov, it is imperative to analyse and historicise the Soviet director’s radical ideology and avant-garde technique. Vertov was, of course, living in the aftermath of the 1917 Soviet revolution and the formation of the USSR, and his filmmaking was therefore a reactionary attempt radically to alter and engineer cinema into a socialist mechanism, in synchronisation with the radically volatile political landscape. Vertov formed the organisation of kinoks, those who followed his ideology, in an attempt to put his plan into action. The opening of We: Variant of a Manifesto provides us with a useful self-portrait of this movement:

“We call ourselves kinoks—as opposed to ‘cinematographers,’ a herd of junkmen doing rather well peddling their rags.

We see no connection between true kinochestvo and the cunning and calculation of the profiteers.

We consider the psychological Russo-German film-drama—weighed down with apparitions and childhood memories—an absurdity.”[4]

This shows us the particular effort kinoks would go to in order to differentiate themselves from conventional cinema, as well as the resentment they held towards it. The kinoks were determined to eliminate such films and institute their new breed. Indeed, this is indicative of the significant space cinema occupied within contemporary Soviet consciousness—as Elizabeth Papazian tells us, it was considered “the most “modern” and “objective” art form and the least encumbered with the bourgeoisie associations.”[5] Lenin himself stated in 1919: “Of all the arts, for us the cinema is most important.”[6] In the same way Stalin sought to idealise Soviet society by shaping the Soviet economy, so too would Vertov seek to shape an ideal (socialist) form of cinema. Essential to this was the kinok movement’s symbolic touchstone, the kino-eye:

“The main and essential thing is: The sensory exploration of the world through film.

We therefore take as the point of departure the use of the camera as a kino-eye, more perfect than the human eye, for the exploration of the chaos of visual phenomena that fills space.

[…] The position of our bodies while observing or our perception of a certain number of features of a visual phenomenon in a given instant are by no means obligatory limitations for the camera which, since it is perfect, perceives more and better.

We cannot improve the making of our eyes, but we can endlessly perfect the camera.”[7]

In order to condense his esoteric (quasi-religious) descriptions of it, we can conclude that fundamentally, the kino-eye epitomises Vertov’s cinematic ideal. As Kevin MacDonald explains: “Central to [Vertov’s] theories is a kind of idolization of the camera. Vertov believed that the camera (which, in combination with the editing process, he called the “kino-eye”) was in many respects superior to the human eye, able as it was to see at long distances, to film in slow or fast motion, etc.”[8] The Man with the Movie Camera is the most celebrated—and most comprehensive—crystallisation of kino-eye theory put into practice.

Vertov’s documentary is subtitled as “an excerpt from the diary of a cameraman,” and begins declaring itself “an experiment in the cinematic communication of visible events” which “aims at creating a truly international absolute language of cinema based on its total separation from the language of literature and theatre.”[9] On a basic level, despite the deliberate lack of conventional narrative, the film is a celebration of Soviet industry and its workers—in regards to a protagonist, the closest resemblance we have is the camera itself (which takes a bow at the close of its performance), which is operated by Vertov’s brother, Mikhail Kaufman.

It follows the formula of the “city symphony”, such as that of Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin, released two years prior: this sees us chart the life of a city from sunrise to sunset, surveying a wide variety of social, industrial, and mechanical activities.[10] Vertov’s experimental editing—referred to as montage—is ubiquitous and furthermore radical in its usage. He is credited as having invented myriad cinematic techniques: jump cuts, Dutch angles, double exposure, split screen, slow motion, fast motion, freeze frames, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, self-reflexive visuals, stop motion animations, and reverse footage are all utilised by Vertov. Indeed, this montage is the soul of the film; through it Vertov is able to construct his commentary on cinematic theory and its ideal as well as sculpt The Man with the Movie Camera into the very embodiment of that ideal. Its form and its content are cooperatively radical, experimental, and transgressive—united against the conventions of “psychological” cinema.

At the climax of The Man with the Movie Camera, we finally see Vertov’s kino-eye, his cinematic ideal of human and machine synthesis. (Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera)

The film documents various areas of Soviet life: the busy streets, the rhythm of machinery, the advancements of industry, the everyday routine of the working class. All this is romanticised, imparted to us as a love-letter to the industrial age, the wonders of modern technology, and the spirit of the USSR. It comes as no surprise that during the Russian Civil War, Vertov had produced Communist propaganda on an agit-train with Kaufman, since The Man with the Movie Camera has integral political concerns. Indeed, the presentation of this material in such an experimental manner is a manifestation of Vertov’s belief in constructivism, which states that art cannot be autonomous, but must possess a social purpose. For all their experimental form, Vertov insisted that his films had a clear purpose. “The important thing,” he said, “is not [to] separate form from content. The secret lies in unity of form and content.”[11] The kino-eye is an emblem of this union, through its “perfect” cinematic vision the truth would be seen and Vertov’s utopia would be achieved.

A state of total surveillance: Vertov predicts the coming of his utopia, and the universal presence of the kino-eye. (Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera)

The kino-eye serves as Dziga Vertov’s lasting legacy to cinema. Despite a history of critical neglect, Vertovian ideas on the importance of the cinematic medium, and its unique communicative ability, have nevertheless proved seminal and are now appreciated for their valuable influence. How, then, does Vertov influence to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, a film which, in many ways, represents the cinema he sought to abolish? Firstly, we must recognise that Vertov’s kino-eye is paradoxically science-fiction—Petric touches on this[12]—and furthermore, a blueprint for the “replicants” of Blade Runner. This is at odds with kinok ideology, under which science fiction such as Blade Runner would be classified as another “mixture of bad colours”,[13] perhaps even worse than the contemporary films of Eisenstein against which Vertov so bitterly fought. However, the extreme similarity Vertovian theory bears to cyborg theory cannot be ignored:

I am kino-eye, I create a man more perfect than Adam, I create thousands of different people in accordance with preliminary blueprints and diagrams of different kinds.

I am kino-eye.

From one person I take the hands, the strongest and most dexterous; from another I take the legs, the swiftest and most shapely; from a third, the most beautiful and expressive head—and through montage I create a new, perfect man.[14]

The parallel between Vertov’s words and Eldon Tyrell’s is unmistakable. “More human than human is our motto”, Tyrell tells Deckard. This excerpt finely distils Vertov’s belief in the unity of form and content, as it professes the way he believes his cinematic ideal symbolises the human ideal. The Man with the Movie Camera’s slow-motion footage and freeze-frames of athletes represent this idealised humanity, whereas in Blade Runner, the “Nexus 6” replicant is posited as the “man more perfect than Adam.”[15]

“Man more perfect than Adam”: Vertov shows us feats of human strength and athleticism to remind us of the connection between the film’s cinematic philosophy and its philosophical mission to bring about utopian Man. (Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera)

It becomes clear that the replicant is the logical conclusion of Vertov’s aims: “The new man,” he proclaims, “free of unwieldiness and clumsiness, will have the light, precise movements of machines, and he will be the gratifying subject of our films.”[16] The character of Roy Batty, beautifully portrayed by Rutger Hauer, is undoubtedly Blade Runner’s most significant player and the most prominent example of the Vertovian replicant.

Replicant kino-eye: Blade Runner opens crosscutting the dystopian Los Angeles cityscape with the extreme close-up of an eye (possibly Roy’s). It quickly establishes the film’s central theme of humanity and calls back to the ending of The Man with the Movie Camera, citing the significance of Vertov. (Scott, Blade Runner)

Blade Runner’s palpable references to The Man with the Movie Camera clearly connect Scott and Vertov. The similarity of the eye-shots from Movie Camera’s ending and Blade Runner’s beginning imply a thematic continuity, an inheritance of Vertov’s legacy. The eye is, of course, a naturally prevalent motif in film: it symbolises the act of viewing, and therefore the self-reflexive medium of cinema. Vertov wished to idealise cinema and humanity, thus he proposed an idealised kino-eye, a fusion of both.

The setting of Chew’s laboratory once more highlights the idea of the constructed, “perfect” eye. “If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes,”[17] Roy says to Chew during the interrogation, extolling the power and capability of the kino-eye, which in theory, he possesses, given he is the image of Vertov’s “perfect electric man.”[18] Furthermore, the scene where Pris poses as a mannequin seems to pay homage to Vertov’s use of mannequins in The Man with the Movie Camera, so striking is the resemblance.

Pris as Vertov’s doll: Scott’s cinematography in this scene is near-identical to Vertov’s utilisation of mannequins in The Man with the Movie Camera. (Scott, Blade Runner)

Vertov’s original: a mannequin gazes directly at us, as Vertov begins to toy with the audience’s thought process. Pris imitates this episode in Blade Runner. (Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera)

Vertov uses mannequins in an incredibly ludic manner (indeed, his montage is inherently playful). One such mannequin looks straight at us, the audience. Vertov first instils the idea that we are being watched—that his film possesses agency (an attribute which is of course vital to Vertov’s aforementioned constructivist ethics). Subsequently, Vertov crosscuts this with a view of the city, and then an extreme close-up of the mannequin’s eyes. A simple edit, but one which is very much indicative of the power of which Vertov believes cinema is capable, for it casts the illusion of observation. The mannequin “sees.” Blade Runner’s allusion to this can help us to understand the way in which the film’s themes of human reality and cyborg existence (provoking a posthumanist reframing of established conceptions of humanity) have their origins in Vertov’s theory.

The mannequin closes in: Vertov flashes an extreme-close up shot of the mannequin’s eyes across the screen in subliminal fashion, the image lasting less than a second. (Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera)

Later on, we see other mannequins, who were stationary before the break of day, moving once the city awakes and is itself in motion (Vertov uses split screen to achieve this affect by giving a mannequin “real” legs with which to cycle). Here, the head kinok is effectively moulding cinematic reality, just as Tyrell moulds human reality: once again, a parallel is drawn between our conception of humanity and our conception of cinema.

Hiding in plain sight: Deckard is momentarily fooled by Pris’ disguise. The eerie laughter of one of J.F. Sebastian’s genetic creations signifies the trick that is being played here, which is inspired by Vertovian “trickery.” (Scott, Blade Runner)

Deckard thinks Pris to be devoid of life, a mere “thing.” In many ways, this is how replicants are thought of within Blade Runner—Deckard refers to Rachael as “it” on first discovering her true nature, the preference of the term “retirement” over “death” in regards to replicants linguistically renders them as objects.[19] Pris breaks her façade, however, and in doing so completes the scene’s obvious metaphor: just as Deckard is unable to identify Pris, so are we unable to define categorically what it is to be “human.” Blade Runner holds this notion at its core, with its title itself significant of the way its philosophy of humanity exists within a liminal, precarious uncertainty, fluctuating between the human and what lies beyond it (the concept of the “post-human”). As Steven Shaviro states, referencing Blade Runner in his study of Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days (1995): “we come to realize that the ‘human’ itself is not a fixed term, but something that undergoes radical mutations, so that the ‘human’ is always in process of becoming something other than itself.”[20]

Blade Runner’s central theme, then, finds a basis in Vertovian cinema, given that this scene (which essentially distils the film’s philosophical basis) is a replication of the kinok mode. Undoubtedly the two films are in subtle, yet intimate dialogue, and furthermore, the examination of this interplay serves to refine our understanding of Blade Runner as a film. As mentioned before, parallels are drawn between Scott’s Blade Runner and Vertov’s The Man with the Movie Camera in a number of methods: scenes are mimicked, Tyrell quotes Vertovian theory, and the replicant eye can be seen to be representative of Vertov’s kino-eye. This could be framed as mere coincidence, but it would perhaps be a disservice to ignore these finer details; Scott’s affinity with Vertov’s historical significance as a creator of cinematic science-fiction, if not completely conscious, is nonetheless wholly apt.

The latter of these parallels is ultimately the most important, in its positioning of the “Nexus 6” as Vertov’s “perfect electric man,”[21] the synthesis of man and machine. In essence, the kino-eye is the theoretical fusion of human and cinematic form, although only in vision. It is significant, then, that Vertov also conceives the “radio-ear”[22] as aural counterpart to the kino-eye. Thus, we can begin to see the full context in which Vertov talked of creating his “new, perfect man”[23] by assembling, in particularly cyborg fashion, all the appropriate parts.

As the Vertovian blueprint serves as an ancestor to Scott’s replicant, we can conclude by extension that one such as Roy is in possession of not only ­kino-eye, but radio-ear as well—and furthermore, Vertovian augmentation of his entire self. Such a heightened state of being, and more importantly, perception, represents Vertov’s utopian ideal, the fusion of man and machine. As Tyrell confidently tells Roy: “You were made as well as we could make you.”[24] Key to this is that the replicant is essentially a cinematic human: this is what Vertov desired to achieve with kinochestvo, in his belief in cinema’s ability to “perfect” itself (“we can endlessly perfect the camera”), which he theorised could perfect humanity, if only the two could be bonded together.

We should at this point recall Vertov’s advice on the importance of the unity of form and content, which he demonstrates through the experimentalism of The Man with the Movie Camera. Blade Runner admittedly does not copy this cinematographic style, but rather applies the same formula philosophically: symbolised by the poststructuralist concept of the replicant—or the kino­-human. In the very same way, the film’s content (its core subject matter, humanity) is unified with its form (the medium of cinema) to create the kino-human. As Rachael tearfully insists: “I’m not in the business. I am the business.”[25] This line takes on added significance within Blade Runner’s allegorical framework and debt to Vertov’s principles.

The meaning of Rachael’s assertion that she “is the business” (meant as the replicant business) mutates when considered within Blade Runner’s Vertovian subtext. (Scott, Blade Runner)

The “business” can now also be taken to mean cinema, and this solidifies the truth of Blade Runner’s unification of its form (cinema) and its content (humanity), for it demonstrates the possibility of interchange between the two. Rachael, herself an experiment, is categorised as an avatar of cinema itself in human form—indeed, given that form and content have been unified, humanity and cinema are therefore rendered synonymous within such a system. Thus, Blade Runner becomes a film centred not only on the epistemological crisis of human definition, but simultaneously, and causally, that of cinematic definition.

Integral to Blade Runner’s exploration of this thematic synthesis is the photograph. As Tyrell explains to Deckard, replicants are installed with “memories.” For Rachael, these take the material form of photographs, from which Tyrell is able to artificially create her “past,” her humanity. Leon’s attempt to retrieve his “precious photographs”[26] from his apartment indicates not only their emotional value, but their intrinsic value to his self-conceptualisation. The still frame becomes a quintessential currency of human-ness, by which Tyrell develops the qualities of humanity within his replicants. Again, the “god of biomechanics”[27] reads from the Vertovian blueprint, specifically the role of Vertov’s wife, Elizaveta Svilova, in The Man with the Movie Camera, whom we see at work cutting the individual frames of Vertov’s film.

The reality of cinema: Vertov’s film is extensively meta-textual in its self-reflexive characteristics. (Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera)

The still frame is also, of course, the currency of cinema—this is self-evident, and once more confirms the thesis of replicant as kino-human through fusion of human and cinematic meaning. Vertov emphasises this within the confines of the cutting room, where we see Svilova editing the frames of The Man with the Movie Camera before the same footage is then shown to us on screen, either being played in motion (or rather, continuity) or shown in freeze frame. Vertov’s meta-textual colouring of The Man With the Movie Camera serves as a pivotal point of departure with regards to the cinematic crisis of identity and its intrinsic connection to the human crisis. Particularly enlightening in this discussion is experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s short piece on the film frame, Time Must Have a Stop. In it he writes:

“What is the Present? It is nothing more than a point upon the line of Time, where the infinite Future is separated from the infinite Past.

Metaphorically: A FRAME OF FILM.

Going still further, it is the invisible instant, the theoretical atom of Time, trillions of times more than 24- frames-per-second, where the non-existent Future meets the non-existent Past. Can such a point – the super-super-super-super film frame – be said to exist?”[28]

Anger concludes emphatically: “It is clear that the Present does not exist,” for it “must have no duration whatsoever” in order to be “pure NOW,” however “without duration existence is impossible.”[29] Anger’s description assists the elucidation of Vertov’s meta-textual techniques. Within his “Cosmic Cutting Room,” he visualises cinema’s identity crisis, in that within its role as “the illusion of life”[30] (that is to say, the illusion of motion created by consecutive frames), it cannot achieve the truthful replication of reality, or rather, of time. It is, in its own way, a replicant—we can remind ourselves of Roy’s opening line: “Time enough.”[31]

Roy appears: from the outset, the motif of time is of critical importance. Roy seeming to grasp at something in this shot insinuates his desperate need to arrest what time he has remaining. (Scott, Blade Runner)

In his opening scene, Roy declares he and Leon have waited long enough to put the next step of their plan into action. “Nexus 6” replicants have an inbuilt “failsafe” of a four-year lifespan, and so the urgency Roy shows here is telling of his impending mortality. His quest is to extend his lifespan, thus postponing his death and arresting time: “I want more life, father.”[32] Tyrell, however, responds by stating the “facts of life”, the inevitable certainty of Roy’s mortality; he was made perfectly, “but not to last.”[33] As Graham Roberts states, Vertov held the belief that it was “possible to engineer a fundamental reorganization of the facts of life.”[34] However, “The March of Time is inexorable,” Anger tells us, “TIME MUST HAVE A STOP.”[35] Time is the enemy of both humanity and cinema, it is the nemesis of the kino-human. It is the cause of the essential human and cinematic crises: neither can persist against it. Rachael’s photographs are testament to this, they artificially seek to create memory (of her “past”) just as film frames seek to create temporal reality, but once analysed in the cutting room (or with a Voight-Kampff machine), such fleeting illusions crumble.

Tyrell counsels Roy, on the revelation of time’s unalterable course, to “revel in [his] time,” for “the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”[36] Roy proceeds to murder Tyrell brutally, kissing him before driving his thumbs through his creator’s eyes, as Sebastian watches on in dread. This horrific scene, in which Tyrell is killed as his vision is simultaneously blinded, symbolically equates the end of life with the end of a film. In this way, as the film and Roy’s timespan near conclusion, Roy decides to heed Tyrell’s advice, playfully revelling in this fight with Deckard. He mocks the howl of a wolf in mourning Pris to begin the “game” of life and death with Deckard, citing matters of sportsmanship as his attitude grows ever more manic. “That’s the spirit!”[37] he shouts, having been struck in the head by Deckard with the full force of steel. As Stephen Mulhall notes in his Reading of Blade Runner:

“This emphasis upon sport is not (only) a sign of mania or psychological imbalance, but rather a conjuration of the Nietzschean vision of revelry or play as the authentic mode of mortal existence: like Zarathustra’s disciples, Roy is dancing on the edge of the abyss. […] To play is to be fully alive, and part of investing one’s life with such lightness and grace is the capacity to look at death, and the death of love, without fear or hysteria. Roy’s way of conducting his life-and-death duel with Deckard confirms his achievement of the status of overman.”[38]

In a fulfilment of Nietszchean philosophy, Roy revels in his time. We could perhaps, for the sake of this argument, replace the overman with the kino-human—Roy’s exclamation of “I see you!” stresses that he is not only embracing his human existence in the Nietzchean mode, he simultaneously is embracing his cinematic existence in the Vertovian. He grasps the screen, much like how Zhora shatters it (of course, she can only escape the film through death).

Zhora metaphorically shatters the film screen as she dies. (Scott, Blade Runner)

“I see you!”: Roy grabs the screen, symbolic of the mortality which he is unable to escape, as he initiates his game with Deckard. (Scott, Blade Runner)

The game leads up to what is widely regarded as Blade Runner’s defining moment: Roy’s salvation of Deckard. In conventional reading of this episode, Roy’s act of empathy is seen as the confirmation of the replicant’s human qualities; however, within the film’s Vertovian subtext, such an interpretation does not fully explore the scene’s full significance.

Roy’s life expires as Deckard looks on. (Scott, Blade Runner)

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.”

Following Roy’s famous dying words, Scott’s cinematography is telling. The dove (symbolising Roy’s “soul”) flies away as Roy bows his head to die, the framerate slowing down (much like Vertov’s idealised athletes): Roy and Blade Runner are at this point both trying to cling onto time, with both reaching the end of their running length. Scott merges Deckard and his rival through double exposure, implying they are one and the same—this is understandably interpreted as the equation of replicant and human. However, more pertinently, it signifies the success of Roy’s didacticism in educating Deckard: not merely on the humanity of the replicant, but, if we take into account Vertovian ideas, on the concept of the kino-human. The “things you people wouldn’t believe” of which Roy speaks are representative of the power of his kino-eye; an attribute which he passes down to Deckard. This idea is underlined by the simultaneous double exposure and decelerated framerate. Scott implies that Deckard is able to see Roy in slowed time, to see him in individual frames of film: the “moments” (much like Rachael or Leon’s memories) which are already being “lost in time” as it inexorably marches on. It is significant we do not cut to burning attack ships or the Tannhäuser gate. The events of Roy’s monologue are only for him to see, to us they can only be described; they represent the limits of our perception, images available only to eyes which possess something more than human.

Indeed, we have no way of discerning the truth of Roy’s visual memories, and they are possibly artificial implants as well—and yet they nevertheless amaze us. Ultimately, despite the two films’ notable clashes, Blade Runner adapts and modernises Vertovian futurism as a vehicle through to depict the duality of the human and the cinematic. The Vertovian replicant exists as the synthesis of filmic form and humanistic content, in line with kinok teachings, and as such we are able to reveal the allegorical framework of Scott’s film, as well as how deeply ingrained it is with the Vertovian subtext of the “mobile, discerning conjunction of camera and human eye.”[39] From the kino-eye comes the kino-human: the replicant, in essence the legacy of Vertov’s “perfect electric man,” whom by merging man and camera, enhances our perception of both human and cinematic ontology, revealing that although it is the inescapable fate of our tears (our human identification) to be washed away in the rain, the dynamic power of the kino-human enables absolute revelry in the fleeting frames of human existence.


[1] Dziga Vertov, “We: Variant of a Manifesto.” Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Ed. Annette Michelson, Trans. Kevin O’Brien, (University of California Press, 1984): 7

[2] Ibid. 59

[3] Brian Winston, Claiming the Real II: Documentary: Grierson and Beyond, (Palgrave

Macmillan, 2008): 168

[4] Dziga Vertov, Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Ed. Annette Michelson, Trans. Kevin

O’Brien, (University of California Press, 1984): 5

[5] Elizabeth Astrid Papazian, Manufacturing Truth: The Documentary Moment in Early Soviet

Culture, (Northern Illinois University Press, 2009): 48

[6] Ibid.

[7] Dziga Vertov, Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Ed. Annette Michelson, Trans. Kevin

O’Brien, (University of California Press, 1984): 14-15

[8] Kevin Macdonald, Imagining Reality, Eds. Kevin MacDonald and Mark Cousins, (Faber

and Faber, 1996): 51

[9] The Man with the Movie Camera, directed by Dziga Vertov (VUFKU, 1929)

[10] Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt, directed by Walter Ruttmann, (Image Entertainment: 2012)

[11] Elizabeth Astrid Papazian, Manufacturing Truth: The Documentary Moment in Early Soviet

Culture, (Northern Illinois University Press, 2009): 50

[12] Ibid. 72

[13] Dziga Vertov, Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Ed. Annette Michelson, Trans. Kevin

O’Brien, (University of California Press, 1984): 7

[14] Ibid. 17

[15] Dziga Vertov, Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Ed. Annette Michelson, Trans. Kevin

O’Brien, (University of California Press, 1984): 17

[16] Ibid. 8

[17] Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (Warner Bros., 1982)

[18] David C. Gillespie, Early Soviet Cinema: Innovation, Ideology, and Propaganda,

(Wallflower, 2000): 77

[19] Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (Warner Bros., 1982)

[20] Steven Shaviro, “‘Straight from the Cerebral Cortex’: Vision and Affect in Strange Days.” The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor, Eds. Deborah Jermyn and Sean Redmond, (London: Wallflower Press, 2003): 173.

[21] Dziga Vertov, Kino-eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, Ed. Annette Michelson, Trans. Kevin

O’Brien, (University of California Press, 1984): 17

[22] Ibid. 18

[23] Ibid. 17

[24] Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (Warner Bros., 1982)

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Kenneth Anger, “Time Must Have a Stop,” Kenneth Anger: A Demonic Visionary, (Black

Dog Pub, 2004): 108

[29] Ibid. 108-109

[30] Ibid.

[31] Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (Warner Bros., 1982)

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Graham Roberts, The Man with the Movie Camera, (I. B. Tauris, 2000): 14

[35] Kenneth Anger, “Time Must Have a Stop,” Kenneth Anger: A Demonic Visionary, (Black

Dog Pub, 2004): 108

[36] Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (Warner Bros., 1982)

[37] Ibid.

[38] Stephen Mulhall, Picturing the Human (Body and Soul): A Reading of Blade Runner, 10th

January 2016.

[39] William Guynn, A Cinema of Nonfiction, (London Associated University Presses, 1990): 41

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