Berlin: Symphony Of A Great City (1927)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt

Germany, 1927.  , .  Screenplay by , Walter Ruttmann, based on an idea by .  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by Karl Freund.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by Walter Ruttmann.

The great German capital awakening to economic success is captured in all its organized, efficient glory in this fascinating documentary accompanied by a gorgeous symphonic score.  Filmed in 1927, years after the devastation of the first World War and just moments before the crash of ’29 and the subsequent rise of Nazi power, it covers, more or less, a day in the life of Berlin.  From the early morning rise of labourers to the late night partying of the masses, it is also, as the title suggests, set to the rhythm of the rich soundtrack and accompanied by superb editing.

Urban life, it turns out, is entirely determined by mechanization, the film’s images more concerned with the steady movement of the machines that determine modern daily life; humans, when they are involved, are constantly at an occupation, so that even when it comes time to go out and have fun the activity has a ritual accompanied by technology and money.  For a film with little narrative (the progress of time is the story here), it is very engaging.


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