Berlin: The Symphony of a Great City & The Man with a Movie Camera

Admission: 50 cents

Berlin: The Symphony of a Great City
(Berlin, Die Sinfonie Der Grosstadt) attempts to capture the mood of the city during a typical day, beginning in the morning and ending at night. The film is a fascinating early attempt of cinema-verite, a “symphonic documentary” unfettered by overt political or social commentary. Freund's self-conscious camera had many faces; after sensitizing his film stock so that he might better film in poor lighting conditions, he hid his “candid camera” behind numerous disguises (mirrors, suitcases and the like). His effort to secure an unbiased visual record of modern Berlin is a studious delight.

• Directed by Walter Ruttmann. Screenplay by Walter Ruttmann and Karl Freund, from an idea by Carl Mayer. Artistic Designs by Erich Kellelhut. Photographed by Reimar Kuntze, Robert Baberske, Lazlo Schaffer. (1927, ca.70 mins, silent, English titles, Print Courtesy of Division of Special Programs)

The Man with a Movie Camera
(Chelovek A Kinoapparatom) demonstrates Vertov's “Kino-Eye” theory endowing the movie camera with the flexibility of the human eye. “In this film, (the camera) climbs up the side of a building, under and above trains, over factories, along steel girders, inside houses. Appropriately, the protagonist or hero is the camera, which is actually shown throughout. Vertov's film is as modern as anything produced today. Its techniques are extravagant: hand-held camera, elaborate tracking shots, frozen frames, rapid (often “stroboscopic”) editing, multiple superimpositions, split screens, constant displacement in time and space. In the extraordinary, wild ending, Vertov intercuts documentary shots, the cameraman, the editor and finally an audience supposedly watching the film.”

• Directed and Written by Dziga Vertov. Photographed by Mikhail Kaufman. (1929, 67 mins, silent, English titles, Print Courtesy of Division of Special Programs)

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