The cinematic time of the city symphony films: time management, experiential duration and bodily pulsation

Ori Levin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The 1920s saw the worldwide creation of the ‘City Symphony Films,’ avant-garde montages of the daily lives of cities. This study is grounded in the historical context of the modernisation of time, demonstrating how these films reflected and coped with the rise of an abstract and standardised conception of temporality. Through the analysis of the historical reception of the films, I argue that they were perceived as offering an alternative to the precise and impersonal measure of the clock by using cinematic time as an experiential duration, set by the depicted action and the attempt to affect viewer’s emotions through their bodily sensations. Watching these films today highlights the extent to which the processes of unification and standardisation have only intensified since, causing a rift between time and the human body. The antidote offered by these films, in the form of cinematic time as an experiential time that affects viewers through their bodies, is relevant today more than ever.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-238
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • 24/7
  • Silent film
  • absolut film
  • affect
  • avant-garde film
  • cinematic time
  • city symphony films
  • modern time
  • pure cinema
  • somatic time
  • time
  • visual Esperanto

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