One of the most important works of urban symphonies and experimental cinema. An astonishing way to discover the city of Berlin.


“Berlin, Symphony of a Great City” is a great example of the 'city symphony' film genre that became popular in the late 20s. Films without narrative content that uses a sequence of events to explain a city's daily life. Other noted examples of the genre include Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's “Manhatta” (1921), Andre Sauvage's “Etudes sur Paris” (1928), Dziga Vertov's “Man with a Movie Camera” (1929), and Adalberto Kemeny's “São Paulo, Sinfonia da Metrópole” (1929).

This film represented a sort of break from Ruttmann's earlier films, which were abstract. Here, Ruttmann shows his knowledge of Soviet montage theory. 

This film was made years before any real National Socialist influence and well before Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry took over all German film production, which stalled true creativity and forced the most artistic talent from the country. Today it is watched not for its onetime artistic or style value but as a filmed time capsule and an invaluable historical record of the great city of Berlin in the mid to late 1920s. Many of the buildings shown in the film didn’t survive the war.

The film was made years before any real National Socialist influence and well before Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry took over all German film production. 

The Soundtrack

Unlike other Caspervek soundtracks, the music written by Brais González for "Berlin, Symphony of a City" follows the formal structure of a standard music album, avoiding the use of leitmotifs or recurring phrases, and separating the film into different chapters, each with a different piece of music. The style of the work moves between minimalism, jazz, post-rock, and classical music.

The work was originally composed for flute, piano, and percussion, later adding clarinet as well. The soundtrack was premiered in 2020 after a commission from the Vicente Risco Foundation.


Episode

Details

  • Director

    Walter Ruttmann

  • Writer

    Karl Freund
    Carl Mayer

  • Runtime

    65 min

  • Year

    1927

  • Country

    Germany

  • Company

    Deutsche Vereins-film


Cast

Documentary


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