Walter Ruttman 's Berlin : Symphony Of A Great City Essay
2247 Words9 Pages
Walter Ruttman’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) is a non-narrative, experimental film that documents the passage of single day in the city of Berlin. Ruttman utilizes montage editing techniques and rapid cutting between shots in order to capture the dynamic makeup of the city and the fast pace of modern life. At times the rapid juxtaposition of shots seems to hint at a radical political agenda. Ruttman intercuts shots of the bourgeoisie with shots of the working classes and animals at various points throughout the film. While these juxtapositions show the unequal circumstances of different social classes, often the effect is diminished by the ambiguity in Ruttman’s editing and his emphasis on the formal qualities of the film. Although his juxtapositions may be interpreted as commentary about social inequality, generally Ruttman avoids any overt criticism of social conditions. Rather, he focuses on the aesthetics of the city, creating a sense of unity through his repetitive transitions and transportation motifs. Despite providing hints about the social disparities in early twentieth-century Berlin, the montage editing techniques used in the film diminish any critique of social inequality in favour of celebrating the beauty and unity of the city. In his emphasis upon unity and progress, Ruttman effaces social inequalities, reproduces existing social structures and endorses the social and political status quo.
While certain shot juxtapositions in Berlin seem to