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Golden Age and Silver Films: The City Symphony in Film History Writing and the Archive

Eva Hielscher (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
The 1920s and 1930s are generally considered as the golden age of the city symphony. Film history has gilded a handful of films such as BERLIN – DIE SINFONIE DER GROSSTADT and MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, which constitute the canon of this phenomenon. At the same time, scholarship and historiography have neglected dozens of other films, forming the silver part or tarnished section of the city symphony history. It is not film history writing alone that shapes, interprets and determines the golden age of the city symphony. As today’s archival theory emphasizes, archives are (co-)creators of records, meaning and the past. Consequently, as film collectors, preservationists, restorers and programmers, film archives affect our idea and the very concept of the golden age of the city symphony. Archives influence and interplay with film historiography. This paper critically examines the standard city symphony narrative in film history writing and discusses the golden age of the city symphony as both a film historical and film archival construct. Ruttmann’s BERLIN, Heinrich Hauser’s WELTSTADT IN FLEGELJAHREN and Wilfried Basse’s MARKT IN BERLIN serve as case studies, allowing to confront the written and archival history of the most golden city symphony with lesser-known silver films.
Keywords
interwar period, film archives, film historiography, city symphonies, city films

Citation

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Chicago
Hielscher, Eva. 2014. “Golden Age and Silver Films: The City Symphony in Film History Writing and the Archive.” In Film & History Conference 2014 : Golden Ages : Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories, Abstracts.
APA
Hielscher, E. (2014). Golden Age and Silver Films: The City Symphony in Film History Writing and the Archive. Film & History Conference 2014 : Golden Ages : Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories, Abstracts. Presented at the Film & History Conference 2014 : Golden Ages : Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories.
Vancouver
1.
Hielscher E. Golden Age and Silver Films: The City Symphony in Film History Writing and the Archive. Film & History Conference 2014 : Golden Ages : Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories, Abstracts. 2014.
MLA
Hielscher, Eva. “Golden Age and Silver Films: The City Symphony in Film History Writing and the Archive.” Film & History Conference 2014 : Golden Ages : Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories, Abstracts. 2014. Print.
@inproceedings{5963355,
  abstract     = {The 1920s and 1930s are generally considered as the golden age of the city symphony. Film history has gilded a handful of films such as BERLIN -- DIE SINFONIE DER GROSSTADT and MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, which constitute the canon of this phenomenon. At the same time, scholarship and historiography have neglected dozens of other films, forming the silver part or tarnished section of the city symphony history.
It is not film history writing alone that shapes, interprets and determines the golden age of the city symphony. As today{\textquoteright}s archival theory emphasizes, archives are (co-)creators of records, meaning and the past. Consequently, as film collectors, preservationists, restorers and programmers, film archives affect our idea and the very concept of the golden age of the city symphony. Archives influence and interplay with film historiography.
This paper critically examines the standard city symphony narrative in film history writing and discusses the golden age of the city symphony as both a film historical and film archival construct. Ruttmann{\textquoteright}s BERLIN, Heinrich Hauser{\textquoteright}s WELTSTADT IN FLEGELJAHREN and Wilfried Basse{\textquoteright}s MARKT IN BERLIN serve as case studies, allowing to confront the written and archival history of the most golden city symphony with lesser-known silver films.},
  author       = {Hielscher, Eva},
  booktitle    = {Film \& History Conference 2014 : Golden Ages : Styles and Personalities, Genres and Histories, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Madison (WI), USA},
  title        = {Golden Age and Silver Films: The City Symphony in Film History Writing and the Archive},
  year         = {2014},
}