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Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
"Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt" (original title)

 |  Documentary  |  13 May 1928 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,486 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 16 critic

This movie shows us one day in Berlin, the rhythm of that time, starting at the earliest morning and ends in the deepest night.

Director:

(as Walther Ruttmann)

Writers:

(screenplay), (idea), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Paul von Hindenburg ...
Himself (uncredited)
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Storyline

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 Snow Leopard

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Genres:

Documentary

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Release Date:

13 May 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City  »

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| (restored)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

After showing the movie, Arte TV showed three short trick films previously made by director Walter Ruttmann, whose motives had been used as transitions in the movie (air date: 1 Dec 2007). See more »

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User Reviews

Not as politically motivated as the Soviet documentaries, but an interesting document
6 April 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Walter Ruttmann's documentary love letter to the German capital, shows the city from the morning proletariat on their way to work, to the decadent bourgeois night of Wiemar Republic, 1920's high living opulence. It shows the shops and market stalls opening, the streets filling, industry moving. The almost constantly static camera captures both the poverty and the affluence. Along with the single shots of the surroundings, there are the occasional flourish of the avant-garde; kaleidoscopic, spinning images similar in experimental joy as Al Bricks Looney Lens series (Split Skyscrapers, Tenth Avenue, NYC (both 1924)), often using split screens and other such optical effects to create hall- of-mirror comparisons.

The films style also often reflects the influence of Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov's Soviet montage, a style that suggested sub-textual meaning using a series of juxtaposing images. At the start of Berlin... the working classes, walking to their factories, moving uniformly, then images of cattle, and soldiers are sliced, creating the metaphor. Whilst not as politically motivated as the Soviet's, this is still an interesting document of a city living in stark contrasts, in a country still ravaged by the failures of WWI. But watching it now, you become reflective of the changes to this important city. It's history since the making of this film (events that the director would never see, due to his death in 1941), which is devastated by war, and divided by a wall. It's always fascinating to see visual "objects" of the past. Whilst this doesn't have the interesting longevity of the more political Soviet films, this is an important piece of silent-era documentary, and would go on to influence the British documentary movements of the 1930's and 40's.

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