Flicker Alley, in partnership with Disobedient Films, proudly present London Symphony, a brand new silent film—a city symphony—which offers a poetic journey through the city of London. It is an artistic snapshot of the city as it stands today, and a celebration of its culture and diversity. The film is divided into four parts, corresponding to the four movements of a musical symphony.
FIRST MOVEMENT: The first movement (morning) begins by looking at construction in the city, moving from the capital's oldest buildings to its newest. This contrast, between old and new, runs throughout the movement: old and new tube stations, old and new newspaper printing, old and new housing, etc. From there, the film moves on to explore London from above. The movement ends with a look at some of the capital's many monuments—another reminder of the city's past.
SECOND MOVEMENT: The second movement (morning-midday) travels through the city's quieter spaces, from its green parks to its agricultural fairs and markets. It then explores the vast array of food on offer in the city, celebrating this diversity while not shying away from the inequalities.
THIRD MOVEMENT: The third movement (afternoon) explores the way people use the city, from the huge number of co-existing religions, to the way other people worship money and work, to shopping, to culture, museums and education.
FOURTH MOVEMENT: The fourth movement (afternoon-evening) takes a trip along the Thames from East to West, exploring each of the bridges found along the way, before looking at the city in the rain. Finally, the film concludes with a look at evening events, and the city at night.
Directed and edited by Alex Barrett, and featuring a soaring score by James McWilliam, London Symphony is a contemporary 'city symphony', a genre of creative non-fiction that flourished in the 1920s and consisted of works that attempted to build poetic portraits of urban life.
The release of this Blu-ray coincides with the 90th anniversary of Walter Ruttmann's Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (1927), one of the most important examples of the original city symphonies. Ruttmann was one of the great pioneers of experimental film, and Barrett and McWilliam have worked hard to bring a similar sense of poetic playfulness to London Symphony, while also updating the form for the 21st Century.
- London Medley (1933) – Courtesy of Film Preservation Associates, this 10-minute ‘city symphony’ (newly scanned in HD), is a fitting companion piece to London Symphony, presenting “intimate glimpses of life in the Old World’s greatest metropolis.”
- Hungerford: Symphony of a London Bridge (2009) – A direct precursor to London Symphony, this 3-minute film presents an abstract journey over Hungerford Bridge, London, and the footbridges alongside it.
- Exclusive Interview with Filmmaker Alex Barrett