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Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity

Avant-Garde Film - Advertising - Modernity

Michael Cowan

260 pages
Amsterdam University Press
A key figure in early avant-garde cinema, Walter Ruttmann was a pioneer of experimental animation and the creative force behind one of the silent era's most celebrated montage films, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. Yet even as he was making experimental films, Ruttmann had a day job. He worked regularly in advertising -and he would go on to make industrial films, medical films, and even Nazi propaganda films.

Michael Cowan offers here the first study of Ruttmann in English, not only shedding light on his commercial, industrial, and propaganda work, but also rethinking his significance in light of recent transformations in film studies. Cowan brilliantly teases out the linkages between the avant-garde and industrial society in the early twentieth century, showing how Ruttmann's films incorporated and enacted strategies for managing the multiplicities of mass society.

This book has won the Willy Haas Award 2014 for its outstanding contribution to the study of German cinema.
Author Bio
Michael Cowan is Professor of film and media history in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of Iowa. His research, focused on German and European cinema, examines the broader cultural and technological contexts in which film practices emerged and evolved in the early 20th century. His publications have won numerous awards from the Society of Film and Media Studies and the British Association of Film and Television Studies Scholars, as well as the Willy Haas Award (Germany) and the Limina Award (Italy).