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Summary: A train speeds through the country on its way to Berlin, then gradually slows down as it pulls into the station. It is very early in the morning, about 5:00 AM, and the great city is mostly quiet. But before long there are some signs of activity, and a few early risers are to be seen on the streets. Soon the new day is well underway - it's just a typical day in Berlin, but a day full of life and energy. (imdb)
Ruttmann employs a rhythmic editing style reminiscent of the Soviets, particularly Vertov. There is a great deal of lyricism and poetry to it, and Ruttmann has a fantastic eye. Unfortunately, he doesn't really do a whole lot with the medium. Also, the first three acts can get a bit repetitive, especially with all the shots of trains. But things pick up towards the end, including a fantastic cabaret scene. All in all, it's a lovely film, but not as thought-provoking as Man With the Movie Camera.
Very interesting movie! It feels like an ode to Berlin. For me the repetitive style didn't matter because there was still very much to see and dulge into. A Berlin that is long lost and therefore alone this movie is highly valuable.
Expertly shot. Inventively edited, with many visual match cuts and a real sense of rythm. The problem is that it all ends up feeling repetitive and without any narrative (it's just random events over the course of a day) it struggled to hold my attention. A technical achievement in its day, no doubt.
It's impossible not to compare this to Dziga Vertov's The Man With a Movie Camera, released two years later. Vertov, Ruttmann and others had been taking turns inspiring each other so there's no issue of plagiarism, but the films have some rather striking similarities, especially when it comes to visual motifs like trains, typewriters, machinery and more. But there are also differences. For example Vertov's film focuses more on people and less on the city itself than this does.
Precursor to The Man With a Movie Camera that doesn't hold up quite as well. It's definitely well shot but it lacks the dynamism to be completely captivating, especially in the first half. That's partly a function of the film's structure, as it's divided into 5 acts which represent 5 parts of the day, and the morning is much slower and duller than the evening. Still, it's interesting from a film making perspective and there are some memorable scenes scattered throughout.