Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt) (1927) - Rotten Tomatoes

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt) (1927)

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This classic German documentary is a valentine to the "new" Berlin of the late 1920s, enjoying a renaissance after the dregs of the Depression. Director Walter Ruttman's five-reel symphony begins at dawn and ends at midnight, showing Berliners at hard work by day and enjoying the city's boisterous nightlife. Essentially a feature-length montage--one shot of pedestrians is followed by a brief clip of a cow herd--the film was heavily influenced by the earlier works of Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov, and was itself very influential in fostering the "city symphony" or "opus" genre (excellent examples of which included Holland's 1929 Rain and Sweden's 1947 Stockholm: Rhythm of a City). There is also a large degree of poignancy in recording the everyday affairs of a city so far from and yet so near to the Nazi nightmare. Though many current prints of Berlin: Symphony of a Great City carry a musical track, this silent documentary creates its own music by virtue of its rhythmic editing. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt)

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2)

A textbook classic to which the years have not been kind.

October 23, 2007 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

It remains a unique and sometimes inspired exercise in style for its own sake.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Outdated but still fine as an historical curio.

August 1, 2009 | Rating: B | Full Review…
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

More of a montage of images than an actual movie, this is a deeply fascinating documentary.

May 24, 2003 | Full Review…
Film4

Audience Reviews for Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt)

Image and sound, rhythm and music, an entrancing audiovisual experiment in five parts showing a day in the life of a city that lives and breathes, with a fantastic use of Soviet intellectual montage to create brilliant visual rhymes on the many different aspects of urban life.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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