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  • 3.9
Photographic artists Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler are the cinematographers of this visualization of Walt Whitman's poetry about New York City. Like many of the avant-garde works of the time, the film prefers to look at cities as abstractions of line, form and movement. A vignette of the Staten Island ferry docking in Manhattan looks like a whale that swallowed and disgorged a million undifferentiated Jonahs. Abandoning human intercourse for the interaction of machine with machine, Strand and Sheeler show the mammoth ocean liner RMS Aquitania being pushed to dock by a line of tugboats. Rejecting the boosterism that often accompanies progress, the film score is industrial, mournful and urban, with a slightly jazzy sound to evoke the city that is its subject. Clearly an influence on Robert Flaherty’s THE TWENTY-FOUR DOLLAR ISLAND, made in 1927, this is essential viewing for those interested in the avant-garde movement of the 1920s. - Marilyn Ferdinand



Member Reviews (5)

top reviewer

I've always loved Paul Strand's photographs, and this short film is also wonderful. I've just watched it a few times in a row and I notice different things every time.

A solid reminder that nothing of worth has been produced from this over-rated city in decades.


Interesting city symphony. Makes sense that it was directed by two photographers.

that was cool. it wasn't that good. it was nice seeing new york.