Berlin: Symphony of a Great City


Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

DIRECTOR: Walter Ruttmann

COUNTRY: Germany

YEAR / DURATION: 1927 • 65’

GENRE: documentary, silent


  • SCREENPLAY: Karl Freund, Walter Ruttmann
  • CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robert Baberske, Reimar Kuntze, László Schäffer
  • EDITOR: Walter Ruttmann
  • SCORE: Chui (live music performance)
  • PRODUCER: Karl Freund
  • DISTRIBUTION: Fox Europa



As another day awakens, Berlin also wakes from slumber, a city which functions as a living organism with codependent social classes. Different scenes from the various areas of city life show the rhythm of the city and the bustle of its inhabitants intensifying, with city life relentlessly pulsating from morning to night. The city’s huge human, transport, and work potential vibrate in an increasingly frenetic rhythm, from the early morning scenes of the gloaming metropolis of empty streets, with only a lonely policeman and a dog to be seen, through the hustle and bustle of the day, with people who have come out of their flats and houses are hurrying along the streets, to the evening, when their activities are different and the pulse of the city changes.

About the director

Walther Ruttmann (Frankfurt am Main, 1887 – Berlin, 1941), film director best known for his experimental films of the 1920s, and mostly worked on the concept of visual music, experimenting with film animation. In 1927, he directed his most famous film, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, a documentary film about everyday life of Berlin, which inspired the city symphony genre. He then turned to experimental sound and made Melody of the World (1929), the first German feature-length sound film, followed by Weekend, a film with no image in which he edited the sound instead of the image. He then worked on End of the World, directed by Abel Gance, and directed the film Steel (1933), based on the novel by Luigi Pirandello. When the Nazis came to power he joined their service and made propaganda films at the UFA. He also worked as Leni Riefenstahl’s assistant on Triumph of the Will.



  • Kaštel – 20.07.2022



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