Against a dark background, several bright, curved or rounded shapes pulse towards the center of the screen, one at a time. They are followed by many other shapes, some irregular, some ... See full summary »
The life of a great city (Paris) from dawn until dusk, including the beautiful and the ragged, the rich and the poor, with little or no comment (intertitles) from the director, Cavalcanti (whose first film this was).
Edwin, a taxi driver, lives with Annie, a neurasthenic model. They plan to spend Sunday at the Nikolassee beach with Wolfgang, an officer, gentleman, antiquarian, gigolo, at the moment a ... See full summary »
A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, ... See full summary »
A peasant comes to St. Petersburg to find work. He unwittingly helps in the arrest of an old village friend who is now a labor leader. The unemployed peasant is also arrested and sent to ... See full summary »
A train speeds through the country on its way to Berlin, then gradually slows down as it pulls into the station. It is very early in the morning, about 5:00 AM, and the great city is mostly quiet. But before long there are some signs of activity, and a few early risers are to be seen on the streets. Soon the new day is well underway - it's just a typical day in Berlin, but a day full of life and energy. Written by
more interesting as history than film-making, but it has its moments
Berlin: City Symphony is one of those early experiments in montage - early as in before sound was invented and right after Battleship Potemkin changed everything. It's not always montage, as some might believe from its recommendations (i.e. Koyannasquati), as the director Walter Ruttmann is making documentary as much as city-scape. It's about a full day and night among the dwellers and the objects of a city: the moving trains, the people shuffling by about their various concerns, and the people at jobs and things like a factory at work and phones being answered used for editing fodder.
Some of this is dazzling work, cut and speed up to reflect a mood of a city that is vibrant and hectic, imaginative and crazy, and sometimes tending for the dramatic. Ruttmann also has a rather weird design with the pacing at times; a woman in one 'scene' looks over a river, and in a state of sorrow falls over. People rush over to see what has happened, and we see a shot of the water and the woman gone under... and then it cuts right away to a beauty pageant! It throws a viewer off to see Ruttmann's unconventional choices, and how images flow together like the racers (cars, horses, people, boxcars), and there develops a simple but engrossing poetry of people as "actors" in front of a camera on their daily travels or having fun like at the funshow in the auditorium. It's not always as exciting or delirious as a Russian counterpart like Man with a Movie Camera or Kino Eye, but it pays loving tribute to its city at its time and place, showing the light with the dark, the commonplace with the unusual.
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