Item #: 889290092014
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  • Documentary (Aspect: 1.33:1)
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    At once an invaluable photographic record of life in Weimer Berlin and a timeless demonstration of the cinema's ability to enthrall on a purely visceral level, Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (Berlin, die Symphonie der Grosstadt) offers a kaleidoscopic view of a single day in the life of a bustling metropolis.

    Carl Mayer (The Last Laugh), influenced by the naturalistic Kammerspiel movement, envisioned "a melody of pictures" sprung from daily reality instead of the stylized artificiality of the studio-bound expressionist film. Following Mayer's rough outline, photographer Karl Freund deployed a team of cameramen to explore the avenues, alleyways and factories of Berlin and secure hidden-camera glimpses of the people and machinery that provide the city with its constant motion. The many hours of footage were then edited into a series of five acts, like movements of a symphony, by Walther Ruttmann as a continuation of his experiments with abstract motion (see Opus I).

    Berlin defined the formula of the "city symphony" film and according to John Grierson - the filmmaker/critic who coined the term "documentary" - "No film has been more influential, more imitated."

    Opus I A rare example of the German avant-garde cinema known as absoluter Film, Walther Ruttmann's hand-colored Opus I is an exploration of the geometry of movement within the frame and the sensory effect these abstract shapes evoke as they swell, streak and swim across the screen. Viewed alongside Berlin, Opus I seems a thumbnail sketch for the sweeping slice-of-life documentary, revealing the degree to which Ruttmann's 1923 film was more a spectacle of raw motion than a documentary portrait of Berlin's daily routines. Opus I is accompanied by Max Butting's 1922 score, adapted and conducted by Timothy Brock.

    Berlin, Symphony of a Great City

    Year: 1927
    Length: 62 minutes
    Director: Walther Ruttman
    Music: Composed and conducted by Timothy Brock
    Format: NTSC

    Opus I
    Year: 1922
    Length: 10 minutes
    Director: Walther Ruttman
    Music: Composed by Max Butting, adapted and conducted by Timothy Brock

    Produced for DVD by David Shepard
    From the Blackhawk Films® Collection
    Presented by Flicker Alley

    • Release Date: 1927
    • Runtime: 72:00
    • Genre: Documentary
    • Language: English
    • Format: DVD-NTSC
    • Screen: 0.16875
    • Aspect: 1.33:1
    • Rating: NR
    • Audio: Stereo
    • Color/BW: BW
    • Special Features: Opus I: A rare example of the German avant-garde cinema known as absoluter Film, Walther Ruttmann's hand-colored Opus I is an exploration of the geometry of movement within the frame and the sensory effect these abstract shapes evoke as they swell, streak and swim across the screen. Viewed alongside Berlin, Opus I seems a thumbnail sketch for the sweeping slice-of-life documentary, revealing the degree to which Ruttmann's 1923 film was more a spectacle of raw motion than a documentary portrait of Berlin's daily routines. Opus I is accompanied by Max Butting's 1922 score, adapted and conducted by Timothy Brock.
    • Copyright: Special Contents of This Edition ©1999 by Film Preservation Associates, Inc. / Blu-ray Publication and Design ©2016 Flicker Alley, LLC
    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Disc Format: DVD-5

    Starring:
    N/A

    Written by:
    Scenario by Karl Freund and Walther Ruttmann
    from an idea by Carl Mayer.

    Directed by:
    Walther Ruttman

    Produced by:
    Karl Freund