Cloth $124.00 ISBN: 9789089645852 Published July 2014 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity

Avant-Garde - Advertising - Modernity

Michael Cowan

Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity

Michael Cowan

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

340 pages | 96 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $124.00 ISBN: 9789089645852 Published July 2014 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
An early practitioner of experimental film, Walter Ruttmann made his well-known Berlin: Symphony of a Great City in 1927 and later worked as an assistant to director Leni Riefenstahl during the production of Triumph of the Will. Tracing Ruttmann’s career from the 1920s through the 1940s against the backdrop of a changing Germany, this book details the ideological and aesthetic shifts between the filmmaker’s animation, montage works, and later propaganda films. In the process, it draws our attention to previously neglected bodies of film material and calls for a new focus on the institutional and financial contexts in which films are commissioned and distributed.

This book has won the Willy Haas Award 2014 for its outstanding contribution to the study of German cinema.


Introduction. Avant-Garde, Advertising and the Managing of Multiplicity

Chapter 1. Absolute Advertising: Abstraction and Figuration in Ruttmann’s Animated Product Advertisements (1922-1927)

•           Introduction

•           Absolute Film and the Psychophysical Image: Ruttmann’s Opus Films

•           Advertising Psychology and the Uses of Abstraction

•           From Abstraction to Figuration: Ruttmann’s Animated Advertisements in Context

•           Riding the Curve of Modernity’s Information Flows

•           Conclusion: Avant-Garde and the Governance of Perception

Chapter 2. The Cross Section: Images of the World and Contingency Management in Ruttmann’s Montage Films of the late 1920s (1927-1929)

•           Introduction

•           Montage and the Ordering of the Archive

•           From Science to Statistics: The Cross Section and Mass Society

•           The Cross Section and the Photographic Archive in Weimar Visual Culture

•           Ruttmann and the Filmic Cross-Section: Berlin. Die Sinfonie der Großstadt

•           Melodie der Welt and the Ordering of the World

•           Conclusion: Avant-Garde Between Statistical Order and the Spark of Chance

Chapter 3. Statistics and Biopolitics: Conceiving the National Body in Ruttmann’s Hygiene Films (1930-1933)

•           Introduction

•           Applied Statistics and the Hygiene Film

•           Managing the Masses: Feind im Blut

•           Picturing the “Volkskörper”: Blut und Boden

•           Conclusion: The Malleability of the Avant-Garde

Chapter 4. “Überall Stahl”: Forming the New Nation in Ruttmann’s Steel and Armament Films (1935-1940)

•           Introduction

•           The Continuity of Germanic Production: Metall des Himmels (1934)

•           The Surface of Nazi Design: Mannesmann (1937)

•           Mobilizing the Steel Body in Wartime: Deutsche Panzer (1941)

•           Conclusion: Molding the Masses

Conclusion. Of Good and Bad Objects


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