Friday, December 11, 2009

Berlin, Symphony of a Great City by Walter Ruttman, film and architecture appreciation

category: Architecture and Film
film index: 78

film: Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin, die Symphonie der Grossstadt)
director: Walter Ruttman
writers: Karl Freund, Carl Mayer, Walter Ruttmann
production: Germany
release: 23 September, 1927
playtime: 65 mins
visual: BnW
Language: silent
Genre: documentary


Description and download:

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (German: Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt), alternatively translated as Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis, a 1927 German silent film directed by Walter Ruttmann, and co-written by Carl Mayer and Karl Freund, is a prominent example of the city symphony genre. A musical score to accompany the film was written by Edmund Meisel. As a "city symphony" film, it portrays the life of a city, mainly through visual impressions in a semi-documentary style, without the narrative content of more mainstream films, though the sequencing of events can imply a kind of loose theme or impression of the city's daily life.

Other noted examples of the genre include Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's 1921 film Manhatta, Dziga Vertov's 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera, Andre Sauvage's 1928 film Etudes sur Paris, and the 1929 Dutch film Regen directed by Mannus Franken and Joris Ivens.

This film represented a sort of break from Ruttmann's earlier "Absolute" films which were abstracts. Some of Vertov's earlier films have been cited as influential on Ruttmann's approach to this film, and it seems the filmmakers mutually inspired one another, as there exist many parallels between this film and the later Man with a Movie Camera.

The film displays the filmmaker's knowledge of Soviet montage theory. Some Socialist political sympathies, or identification with the underclass can be inferred from a few of the edits in the film, though critics have suggested that either Ruttmann avoided a strong position, or else he pursued his aesthetic interests to the extent that they diminished the potential for political content. Ruttmann's own description of the film suggests that his motives were predominantly aesthetic: "Since I began in the cinema, I had the idea of making something out of life, of creating a symphonic film out of the millions of energies that comprise the life of a big city."

this is a visual symphony in five movements celebrating the Berlin of 1927: the people, the place, the everyday details of life on the streets. Director Walter Ruttman, an experimental filmmaker, approached cinema in similar ways to his Russian contemporary Dziga Vertoz, mixing documentary, abstract, and expressionist modes for a nonnarrative style that captured the life of his countrymen. But where Vertov mixed his observations with examples of the communist dream in action, Ruttman re-creates documentary as, in his own words, "a melody of pictures." Within the loose structure of a day in the life of the city (with a prologue that travels from the country into the city on a barreling train), the film takes us from dawn to dusk, observing the silent city as it awakens with a bustle of activity, then the action builds and calms until the city settles back into sleep. But the city is as much the architecture, the streets, and the machinery of industry as it is people, and Ruttman weaves all these elements together to create a portrait in montage, the poetic document of a great European city captured in action. Held together by rhythm, movement, and theme, Ruttman creates a documentary that is both involving and beautiful to behold. The original score by Timothy Brock is lyrical and dramatically involving, complementing the mood and movement marvelously. Also included is the avant-garde short Opus 1, an abstract study in animated shapes and movement.

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link bundle: 2
DivX version
size: 467 mb

Torrent download:
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