Among the different sub-genres not usually recognized during the silent era, this German count can say there are some outstanding and remarkable oeuvres that can perhaps be called "industrial films". These films emphasize the thrill of the city, the industrial rhythm of the machines that affects in one way or another the citizens who live in a new and modern society and had to confront new social challenges and a new way of life that began when WWI ended.
Having in mind those ruminations quoted by this Herr Von above, "Rotaie" (1929) is an Italian film that can be considered as one of those "industrial films", a remarkable oeuvre in which a young couple lives in constant uncertainty, surrounded by a modern and inhuman city and its unscrupulous inhabitants and the couple finds their unconditional love in jeopardy.
Herr Mario Camerini, director of the film, moves the camera in a vivid, agile way ( flashback, travellings ), and during the first part of the film uses rapid fire editing to capture the atmosphere of the city. The movie also shows the influence of European avant-garde film and, in the shadowy night sequences, the notorious German cinema. The latter scenes depict the vulnerability and helplessness of the young couple during their erratic wandering around the city and skilfully capture an oppressive and mean atmosphere. In spite of all this there is hope for a new start for the couple when they have an unexpected stroke of luck that allows them to escape the disquieting night and end up in a totally different place: a luxurious hotel full of decadent people. However, though the building may be shiny, it nevertheless hides the same night darkness inside.
The psychological portraits of the different characters of the film are quite interesting. There are carefree, heartless and even dehumanized beings who will try to take advantage of the couple's innocence and vulnerability. The two young people are aware of the dangers around them and consciously go with the tide, although at the end they will finally manage successfully to triumph over situations that almost put an end to their love. At last the tides of events drag them up to be a part of that new and industrial city turning them finally into a happy middle class couple.
"Rotaie" is a late silent that bears witness to the social changes and challenges of the big city. It is technically well structured and presents an interesting portrait of the uncertainties of a changing society entering a modern and industrial world.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must deal with a strike in the aristocratic factory at the Rhine.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
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