Prague 1934 #CitySymphonies

I was introduced to the concept of city symphonies a couple of years ago. This blogpost explains more.

“We Live in Prague” was filmed in 1934. Don’t be put off by the Keystone Cops style opening shots! The film includes some remarkable insights into the lives of ordinary people and some fascinating explorations of film techniques particularly night-time filming.

The film-makers are Joachim Barenz, Elke Kellermann and Jochen Wolf.

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City Symphony – Sunday in Berlin 1930

City Symphony of the Douro river

Take a trip to the Riviera 1930s style

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City Symphony of the Douro river

river douro

I’ve been pursuing an interest in City Symphonies guided by an article on the British Film Institute website.

Douro, Faina Fluvial (Labor on the Douro River)

is a 1931 Portuguese film

directed by Manoel de Oliveira.

The film is a portrait of de Oliveira’s hometown of Porto and the industry that takes place along the city’s Douro River.

The film was first shown at the International Congress of Film Critics in Lisbon on September 19, 1931. It didn’t play well with the audience, the majority of whom booed.

This clip of the second part of the film is interesting.

It’s a film of a screening of Douro, Faina Fluvial with a live orchestra playing the score. It appears to have been performed in 2014 and the composer and director of music is Dinis Rego.

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You might also like these posts about other city symphonies:

24 hours in Paris 1926

Come and visit Amsterdam on a rainy day in 1929.

Manhatta, 1921, re-visited

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24 hours in Paris 1926

Paris

I’ve been looking at another City Symphony.

“Rien que les heures” was filmed by Alberto Cavalcanti in 1926.

The film shows daily life in Paris through twenty four hours in 45 minutes.

This post gives the background to my interest in this fascinating film form. 

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You might also like these other City Symphonies:

Come and visit Amsterdam on a rainy day in 1929.

Manhatta, 1921, re-visited

Take a trip to the Riviera 1930s style

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Come and visit Amsterdam on a rainy day in 1929.

Amsterdam

During my chemotherapy resting periods, I’m re-visiting City Symphonies.

Today it’s Regen (Rain) filmed in 1929 by Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens.

The film captures 1920’s Amsterdam before, during, and after a downpour.

The music is Hanns Eisler’s “14 Arten den Regen zu beschreiben”, (Fourteen Ways of Describing the Rain) added to the film in 1941

The film lasts for a little over twelve minutes and has some lovely umbrella shots in the middle.

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If you enjoyed this City Symphony you might also like

Take a trip to the Riviera 1930s style

and

Manhatta, 1921, re-visited

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Manhatta, 1921, re-visited

Manhattan

During my chemotherapy resting periods, I’m re-visiting City Symphonies.

Today it’s Manhatta made in 1921 by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand. The captions are from the writing of Walt Whitman.

There’s an interesting article in The New York Times about Manhatta.

The film is short – barely 10 minutes – but if you don’t have time for the whole thing, catch the opening when the mass of commuters arrive on the ferry – awesome!

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You might also like Metropolis premiered #OnThisDay in 1927

and

Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/

Do you like City Symphonies?

music

A couple of years ago I signed up for an adult education course looking at the history of documentary film in the 20th century.

The course introduced me to the concept of city symphonies about which I was completely unaware but for which I became hugely enthusiastic.

During my necessary chemotherapy resting periods I’ve started re-visiting city symphonies and enjoying once again some of the marvellous examples that are available on-line.

The concept of the city symphony evolved during the 1920s in the era of the silent film.

There’s a good explanation on the British Film Institute (BFI) website which begins:

The city symphony is an unusual genre, which belongs almost entirely to just one decade: the 1920s. It’s a divided genre too. These silent films could celebrate the splendours of modernity or castigate the decadence and the degradation of urban life. Occasionally they do both. These urban documentaries have no stars, no characters and no plot. Their structure is borrowed from the movements and motifs of orchestral symphonies or the hours of the day, rather than the dynamics of narrative pacing.

At their most avant-garde, city symphonies are invigorating examples of pure cinema: movement and abstraction animated by the camera. At their most documentary in technique, city symphonies can be seen as the forerunner of slow cinema: minimalist in style, meticulous in observation.

The best known city symphony is Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927).

Berlin was created by some of the greatest names in German silent cinema. Its avant-garde director Walter Ruttmann, screenwriter Carl Mayer and cinematographer Karl Freund all share credits for the screenplay.

Ruttmann cut the film which is important as city symphonies are shaped by the edit as much as the screenplay. The musical score was written by Edmund Meisel, who also provided music for Battleship Potemkin (1925).

Berlin typifies the city symphony in many ways, from its strict day-in-the-life structure to its emphasis on the fast pace and anonymity of urban living.

The film runs for just over an hour and if you don’t have time to watch it from start to finish it’s worth dipping into at different points to get a feel for it and the genre.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You might also like Metropolis premiered #OnThisDay in 1927

and

Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/ with details of a free Kindle download.