Black and white rectangular images fade in and out of the screen. Their movement make them sometimes look like they're panning from side to side. Their movement also make the black and ... See full summary »
Rhythm 23 (Rhythmus 23, 1923) is an extension of the same film but with more angles and overlays added, and adding lines rather than adhering to the squares of the original. It looks so ... See full summary »
Of the three films that avant-garde director Hans Richter released in 1928, this is the least of them. Indeed, there appears to be little "avant-garde" about it. 'Race Symphony (1928)' belongs to a different style of film-making, most popular popular in the 1920s, known loosely as "City Symphonies." Documentaries such as 'Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)' and 'The Man With a Movie Camera (1929)' celebrated the working-class mechanics of society, often shunning intertitles and instead using diverse optical effects such as double-exposures, dissolves, split-screen and slow-motion to communicate story and mood. Richter's entry runs just seven minutes, and documents a typical day at the German races, where sophisticated people turn up in droves to place a bet, watch the horses and celebrate a well-deserved win. Despite the excellent workmanship of the short and, make no mistake, Richter is a phenomenal editor the problem here lies in the subject matter, which is largely uninteresting.
Here in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is frequently described as "The Race that Stops the Nation." I've never bothered with it, and I've honestly never understood the appeal of horse-racing. Nevertheless, Richter does his best to convince me otherwise, using the film medium to emphasise how this sport brings people together like no other. In a particularly memorable piece of editing, Richter captures the final seconds of the horse race, highlighting the tension and then euphoria of the onlooking race-goers, a crucial moment when hundreds of people behave as one. Other than this impressive sequence, we're not left with anything of any real note; the documentary format leaves little room for creativity, and the director does the best he can with the material. Fans of horse-racing, City Symphonies and Richter will find 'Race Symphony' to be worthwhile viewing, but you've already seen better achievements in each of those three categories.
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