Joris Ivens (13m59s, 1928). Source: AVI, 54mb.
[This was ripped from YouTube, and while there are some noise artifacts, the quality is surprisingly good. I would love to get a high quality rip of this, however, so if anyone has it on DVD please get in touch]
See also: vimeo.com/avantgardecinema/regen
"De Brug (The Bridge, 1928) is a portrait of the Hefbrug, Koningshaven in Rotterdam... The Hefbrug, the subject of The Bridge, is not a specially beautiful or monumental bridge. But Ivens’ achievement is to convey the importance of this bridge for the whole of Rotterdam. We have a sense of the commercial imperatives behind the bridge, and the intricacy of the mechanism needed to swing the bridge or raise the rail decking to allow ships to pass through. There is always a solid sense of context throughout the 14 minutes of the film. It opens with shots of a camera and cameraman, immediately establishing a point of view for what follows. Again we have a mix of close-ups, and long shots, bird’s eye views and low angles. The sense of the bridge’s structure, its ways of operating, how it fits into the overall transport infrastructure of the city – all are conveyed through the visuals. It is a powerful example of how a silent film can convey its message without words. The Bridge was, as Ivens recognized, an important learning experience for him. In making it, he came up with procedures that helped him edit his material. He learned how to film movement. And he learned the overriding importance of knowing your material." (Peter Hourigan, Joris Ivens: Witness to the 20th Century, http://sensesofcinema.com/2009/feature-articles/joris-ivens-witness-to-the-20th-century/)
"I learned that when you film repetitive movement such as the action of a counterweight on the bridge, you have to observe this for a longer time and with greater attention than you would think. I learned from The Bridge that prolonged and creative observation is the only way to be sure of selecting, emphasising, and squeezing everything possible out of the rich reality in front of you. The filmmaker’s discovery that he was not smart enough the day before is more depressing than in any other medium of art... Space, light, height, wind and open air does not appear in a shot of its own accord, it has to be put there. There are lots of in between stages from shooting to public projection – developing, printing, editing, commentary, sound effects, music. At each stage the effect of the shot can be changed but the basic content must be in the shot to begin with." (Joris Ivens, in Hourigan)
Joris Ivens Foundation: http://www.ivens.nl/welkom.asp