Walter Ruttmann and the cinema of multiplicity

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The name Walter Ruttmann recalls enthralling and often controversial contexts. A leading figure of the interwar avant-garde, Ruttmann enriched the language of the cinema through numerous innovations in film form. His pioneering work in abstract animation paved the way for artists such as Oskar Fischinger and Len Lye, and his celebrated montage film Berlin. 'Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City', 1927) is still seen as the quintessential documentary of urban life in the 1920s. But Ruttmann also made numerous propaganda films after 1933, even working alongside Leni Riefenstahl for 'Triumph des Willens' (1935). The first monograph on Ruttmann in English, Cowan's study presents an entire aspect of Ruttmann's work, while also rethinking his significance in light of current transformations in film studies. Drawing on the growing interest in "useful" cinema and "sponsored film," the book shows how Ruttmann's films incorporated and enacted contemporary strategies for "managing" the multiplicities of mass society from democracy to National Socialism.
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AuthorMichael Cowan
SeriesFilm Culture in Transition
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Binding MethodEbook
Year of Publication2014
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