35th Pordenone Silent Film Festival diary – Day #3 – Glorious Vamps, mysterious stars, communists and more

This statement leads me to the city symphony program of today, which I gladly attended – the city symphony being a subgenre that naturally thrives on montage.

I must admit, I had never seen a city symphony film at the cinema and was rather looking forward to it.

The program today included: the short This is How the Obelisk Was Born (1936), about the construction of the titular Buenos Aires monumental landmark, directed by Horacio Coppola who, according to the Giornate program, was also the founder of the first cine club in Buenos Aires; Sao Paulo, Symphony a Metropolis (1929) by Adalberto Kemeny and Rudolpho Rex, the feature of the three films on show; and Budapest – the City of Spas and Cures (1935), which was possibly made for promotional values, maybe to attract tourists to the Hungarian capital, a fact shown by one shot early on in which a group of youngsters raise glasses of beers with smiles on their faces in a way that would suit a TV advert today.

saoThe latter movie is surprisingly delightful, though. It is like an avant-garde depiction of a scene at the spa, and it certainly put me in the mood for a mud bath or, at least, a massage.

The point worth making about these city symphonies – although it is perhaps only the feature of the three that is truly a city symphony – is that they can be difficulty. I cherish them and, when they are good, am absolutely hypnotized by them. I can really get into their rhythm and their flow. Therefore, I enjoyed Sao Paolo, although I found it strange that it decided to drop the Berlin Symphony of a City format, which looks at a day in Berlin in chronological order, towards the half-way mark (I think), to become something that makes more general observations on the advancements of the city and the rhythm of modern life in general. It even gets progressively patriotic as it goes on.

What was strange about this screening is that at some point near the end, the audience burst into laughter. I didn’t understand why. My best guess, I must admit, was that the laugh corresponded to the shot of a sunrise, followed by a title card like it. The laughter was possibly because many in the audience just couldn’t take it anymore after an hous and a half. Which was initially slightly disenchanting, but then reminded me of the vocal reactions films would have been more likely to get during the first decades of the 20th century, so it was actually kind of nice. In fact, I sort of like it when I hear noises in the room.

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One thought on “35th Pordenone Silent Film Festival diary – Day #3 – Glorious Vamps, mysterious stars, communists and more

  1. Pingback: 35th Pordenone Silent Film Festival | CINECOLA

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