Sunday, January 22, 2012

Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis [1927]

Wonderful railway and urban footage in this 1927 silent film directed by Walter Ruttmann, co-written by Carl Mayer and Karl Freund. The film is an example of the city symphony film genre.[1] A musical score for an orchestra to accompany the silent film was written by Edmund Meisel. As a "city symphony" film, it portrays the life of a city, mainly through visual impressions in a semi-documentary style, without the narrative content of more mainstream films, though the sequencing of events can imply a kind of loose theme or impression of the city's daily life.

In 2007, a restored version of the film was shown with the fully reconstructed original score by Edmund Meisel. The film was restored by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in cooperation with ARTE and with funding by the ZDF. The restored version is based on cellulose nitrate copy from the archives of the former Reichsfilmarchivs which was augmented by footage acquired from the Library of Congress.


Peter S. said...


This is a fantastic film. I love the way this film animates the City as a character itself. It is also interesting that it was made at what would be the crest of the Weimar Republic.

Your mention of it also makes me think of Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, which is in many ways a love letter to and about the City of Berlin.

There are also of course, Fritz Langs "M" (1931), which shows an interesting side of the City through an expressionist/Film Noir Lens, and Germania Anno Zero, Rossellini's Gut wrenching film filmed in Berlin immediately at the end of the second world war.

I am not sure if you have seen these films. While they are not a City film like Ruttmann's, they are so very revealing.

Great Post,

Peter S.

Papphausen said...

Agree completely, and isn't it just. A very interesting time in Germany and Berlin in particular. Lots of great contrasts and vignettes that would be fantastic to model in any era.

Never could sit through Wings of Desire (Tiefsinniger Schwachsinn) but have seen "M" and Germania. The 20's were an amazing time in German film-making. M, Metropolis, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Golem, Woman in/Rocket to the Moon (Fritz Lang)... Great to see them being restored.

David S.Jones said...

Keep working ,terrific job!
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