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Manhatta (1921)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Short | 1921 (USA)
This groundbreaking silent documentary captures the beauty and majesty of the New York City in its streets, skyscrapers, bridges, rail yards and harbors.

Directors:

Charles Sheeler (uncredited), Paul Strand (uncredited)
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Storyline

Morning reveals New York harbor, the wharves, the Brooklyn Bridge. A ferry boat docks, disgorging its huddled mass. People move briskly along Wall St. or stroll more languorously through a cemetery. Ranks of skyscrapers extrude columns of smoke and steam. In plain view. Or framed, as through a balustrade. A crane promotes the city's upward progress, as an ironworker balances on a high beam. A locomotive in a railway yard prepares to depart, while an arriving ocean liner jostles with attentive tugboats. Fading sunlight is reflected in the waters of the harbor... The imagery is interspersed with quotations from Walt Whitman, who is left unnamed. Written by David Steele

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Genres:

Documentary | Short

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The poet whose works are quoted during the film is Walt Whitman. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Secret Life of Sergei Eisenstein (1987) See more »

User Reviews

Modern Ideas
22 July 2005 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

Here's the beginning of the city symphony film, which would include "Berlin: Symphony of a City" (1927) and "The Man with a Movie Camera" (1929). Although "Manhatta" doesn't contain the rapid rhythmic montage of some of the later city symphonies, it does have a sort of slower, poetic rhythm to it. It's discernible from a travelogue in that it has something to say about its city, other than it's a nice place to visit. The steady progression of images interloped with poetic intertitles taken from Walt Whitman produce the rhythm.

From the still photographer Paul Strand and the painter and still photographer Charles Sheeler, their view of Manhattan is, of course, modern. The shots are of skyscrapers and the inter-workings of the city. One is Strand's 1915 still photograph "Wall Street" come to motion. The composition, camera placement and observation of light and shadow are striking throughout the short film, and they are reflective of the work by the filmmakers in other media. Sheeler and Strand had already transplanted modern, abstract and formal ideas from painting into still photography and with "Manhatta" they similarly redirected film.


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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

1921 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mannahatta See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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