UC Berkeley Library

Documentary Celebrations of the City

The City (UK, 1939)

Producer, Alberto Cavalcanti; director, Ralph Elton Shows the growth and development of London, and how the Post Office helped ease congestion with its own underground railway. 19 min.

The Solitary Life of Cranes

Part city symphony, part visual poem, explores the invisible life of a city, its patterns and hidden secrets, as seen through the eyes of crane drivers working high above its streets. Within the loose structure of a day, starting with the drivers climbing up at dawn and ending with them coming down after a nightshift, the film observes the city as it awakens with a bustle of activity, through the lull of midday and the manic rush in the evening, until it calms down again deep into the night.

Tokyo-ga (USA | West Germany, 1985)

Directed by Wim Wenders. On the streets of Tokyo, through film clips and interviews with some of Yasujiro Ozu's legendary collaborators, Wim Wenders explores the world of Ozu and ponders the nature of images in this "film diary." 92 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Urban Visions

11 short films from London, Paris, New York, Helsinki, Milan and elsewhere, presenting different visions of urban life as art, fiction, and social commentary. These films will take you, beyond borders, to discover urban subcultures under a new light. Urban Visons includes both the extraordinary as well as the perfectly ordinary. It's about everyday life, real and unreal, as seen through the eyes of independent and cutting-edge film-makers with a dedication to form, rhythm, and color.

Waverley Steps (UK, 1948)

Directed by John Eldridge. Like Walther Ruttmann's Berlin Symphony of a Great City (which it quotes in its opening shots), Waverley steps is an ode to the spirit of a city--in this case, Edinburgh. "It touces on such themes as life and death, romance and divorce, work and entertainment, which were staples of the city symphony genre. It's highly controlled and polished cinematography, as well as its carefully arranged and acted vignettes, pull this film away from the genre's documentary impulse. 31 min.