Friday, September 26, 2014

London Symphony of a City - a new silent film

Louise Brooks went to Berlin in 1928 to film G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box. The look and pulse of the city she encountered may be seen in Walter Ruttman's Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, released the year before.

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City is an example of the "city symphony film" genre. As such, it portrays the daily life of a city through imagery in a semi-documentary style, though without the narrative thrust of mainstream films; sometimes, the sequencing of visual impressions and events can imply a kind of loose theme. If you haven't seen Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, you should. It is a terrific piece of experimental film-making. 

On Kickstarter, there is a campaign to make a new silent film in the "city symphony film" tradition. Filmmaker Alex Barrett has written to the Louise Brooks Society asking that we help spread the word. And the LBS is happy to do so.

According to its Kickstarter page, "London Symphony is a poetic journey through the city of London, exploring its vast diversity of culture, religion and design via its various modes of transportation. It is both a cultural snapshot and a creative record of London as it stands today. The point is not only to immortalise the city, but also to celebrate its community and diversity."

"The feature-length film is being made in the style of a silent City Symphony, but it is not a pastiche. We believe that by looking at the present through recourse to the past, we can learn something new about life today. We will not parody the style, but be true to the spirit of the filmmakers that came before us, and the theories that fuelled them. We hope to capture the rhythm, the motion and the experimentation that made their films so wonderful, while simultaneously reimagining the City Symphony for the 21st Century."

"In the early days of the cinema, there were several great City Symphonies – for Berlin, Paris, Rotterdam, but never for London. Alex Barrett is going to put that right, and his plans suggest a remarkable picture." – Kevin Brownlow, Film Historian

"The City Symphony is the only art form capable of capturing the music of such a complex entity. It must be done in images that move - you need to see it - you need to feel its tempo. It's time to turn the Kino-eye on London" – Bryony Dixon, curator of silent film at the BFI National Archive 

Here is short, a bit of what to look forward to.

The Louise Brooks Society encourages you to check out this worthwhile project and consider making a donation. The London Symphony Kickstarter page can be found at

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