Close shots of a railway train underway: track racing underneath, steam escaping, cars coupling, gears ratchetting, signals changing. The train reaches a lift bridge which must rise to ... See full summary »

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Storyline

Close shots of a railway train underway: track racing underneath, steam escaping, cars coupling, gears ratchetting, signals changing. The train reaches a lift bridge which must rise to allow a merchantman to pass below... Bridge section and counterweight move choreographically. The balletic motion of beam relative to girder creates an elegant, abstract expression of the precision of technology... The lift operator sets the bridge to the correct height then returns it to the original position. The train carries on its way, passing prosaically over the ship canal. Written by David Carless

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Genres:

Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

11 April 1983 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

The Bridge  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The bridge is in Rotterdam, and is still there. It was given the status of monument after this Joris Ivens film became a success. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Allemaal film: Zoeken naar de werkelijkheid (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Engineering as a piece of functional art
21 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This short film was part of a display of similar pieces in MoMA when I was there recently and at first glance it seems like an odd film for an art gallery because it is essentially about the operation of a bridge in Rotterdam which carries a train track but can lift the entire bridge section to the top of the structure when a ship needs to pass and then lower it again for a train to cross. The film shows us this with a rather dramatic tone as we see vessels coming and then a train crossing. The camera follows the operation from men pulling levers to the full hydraulic operation of the bridge to lift and then lower again.

It seemed like it would be more of a documentary than the other films in the same display but the way it is shot is more about the appreciation of the machine and work it works together. The creativity of the structure is clearly shown with good shots of the moving parts working together to achieve the goal and I found ti very easy to sit back from the images and be impressed by vision and the beauty of this functional piece of art. The dirty, heavy industry also adds to the images – with belching smoke, huge beasts of ships and the comparative ease with which this entire structure changes itself to accommodate. It is filled with good shots from Joris Ivens, with the camera on and around the bridge giving unique views of the operation and use.

I am terrible at practical work but my office for the last 10 years has been in an engineering department and I do have a love for technical drawings both modern and old, and this film really harnessed that interest in me, presenting the subject in an engaging and appreciative way.


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