What was first City Symphony film?

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Lokke Heiss

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What was first City Symphony film?

PostSat Aug 26, 2017 7:52 pm

From wiki: City Symphony films include Manhatta (dir. Paul Strand, 1921), Paris Nothing but the Hours (dir. Alberto Cavalcanti, 1926), Twenty Four Dollar Island (dir. Robert Flaherty, 1927), Études sur Paris (dir. André Sauvage, 1928), The Bridge (1928), and Rain (1929), both by Joris Ivens.

And the eponymous grandaddy of them all, Berlin, Symphony of a City (1927).

My question: Are there any city symphony films that predate Manhatta? And if so, how many? Who gets credit for the first City Symphony.
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Rodney

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Re: What was first City Symphony film?

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 4:42 pm

Lokke Heiss wrote:From wiki: City Symphony films include Manhatta (dir. Paul Strand, 1921), Paris Nothing but the Hours (dir. Alberto Cavalcanti, 1926), Twenty Four Dollar Island (dir. Robert Flaherty, 1927), Études sur Paris (dir. André Sauvage, 1928), The Bridge (1928), and Rain (1929), both by Joris Ivens.

And the eponymous grandaddy of them all, Berlin, Symphony of a City (1927).

My question: Are there any city symphony films that predate Manhatta? And if so, how many? Who gets credit for the first City Symphony.


How do you define a "city symphony" film?
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Lokke Heiss

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Re: What was first City Symphony film?

PostMon Aug 28, 2017 8:59 am

How do you define a "city symphony" film?

My answer is that every film I've cited is a City Symphony film, so there you have examples, but to be specific: It's a film where the main character is a city/village/town, rather than an actual person or character.
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Rodney

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Re: What was first City Symphony film?

PostMon Aug 28, 2017 9:15 am

Lokke Heiss wrote:How do you define a "city symphony" film?

My answer is that every film I've cited is a City Symphony film, so there you have examples, but to be specific: It's a film where the main character is a city/village/town, rather than an actual person or character.


The definition is important when you get to early films, which is what you're asking about. For instance, A Trip Down Market Street (1906) is definitely a film where the only character is the city, so it meets your definition. But not everyone may agree that it's a "city symphony," because the filming is from one single cable car, and it lacks the breadth of later "Symphony" films.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: What was first City Symphony film?

PostMon Aug 28, 2017 10:02 am

I think there has to be a conscious relation to the fine arts, i.e., it's like a "symphony of city scenes," or "painting on film," or some such, versus a scenic view of something or other. So I tend to think it wouldn't be before Intolerance, which is where the idea of making an analogue to the fine arts in film comes close to beginning (you can always think of something earlier, but Intolerance put the idea into the air).

Manhatta would have been my suggestion.
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silentfilm

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Re: What was first City Symphony film?

PostMon Aug 28, 2017 11:43 am


Don't forgot Arne Sucksdorff's Oscar-winning short Symphony of a City (1948).
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Lokke Heiss

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Re: What was first City Symphony film?

PostThu Aug 31, 2017 9:35 pm

What I was trying to say was that a location/city had to be a character in a story, which means there had to be a narrative with a beginning/middle/end. Many symphony films have used the morning/noon/night 'a day in the life of' a city to achieve this, with other themes woven into the story that makes the city a character in itself.

But that would mean a camera fixed to a tram for a ride, would not be a city film for example.
"You can't top pigs with pigs."

Walt Disney, responding to someone who asked him why he didn't immediately do a sequel to The Three Little Pigs

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