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Berlin Film Anthology: BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY (1927)

The metropolis never sleeps

BERLIN – SYMPHONY EINER GROSSSTADT is mandatory viewing for anyone who loves cinema or Berlin. In his futuristic portrayal of the city avantgarde filmmaker Walter Ruttmann – one of the pioneers of abstract cinema - employed all cinematic means at his disposal at 1927. His camera man Raimar Kuntze even invented a hypersensitive film stock to be able to film the city at night without artificial lighting. The film begins with a train arriving from the countryside as the metropolis is just waking up. As people go to work the giant machine that is the city picks up speed in an ever more frantic rhythm before it begins to slow down again when evening is approaching. It never goes to sleep. When assembling his film Walter Ruttmann went wild on montage and juxtaposed images of work, buildings, machinery and scenes of leisure producing a kind of silent music video clip. The film still feels fast paced and provides the opportunity to see Berlin in all of it’s prewar glory in the Golden Twenties. About 30% of the city were destroyed in WWII. You can find the film in its entirety on youtube but try to catch one of the frequent cinematic screenings with live music once Berlin’s cinemas open again. The Sputnik Kino shows BERLIN – SYMPHONY EINER GROSSSTADT at least once a year – usually accompanied by electronic duo Tronthain.