Film series: Cinematic Cities

A collage image of a face looking down at a city building.
BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY (dir. Walter Ruttmann, 1927)

Exploring urban spaces ignited the early days of silent cinema. The concepts of modernity, velocity, public vs. private spaces, the role of women, the machine’s invasion in the real/reel world all coalesced in what are called “city symphony films” that served as foundational works for technological innovation and urban meditations. Cornell Cinema, in conjunction with the Department of Romance Studies’ "Cinematic Cities" (ROMS 3485), a course that provocatively investigates a theoretical relation between cities and cinema, presents four films from the course syllabus: Berlin: Symphonie of a Great City, The Hidden City, As Bestas, and Cleo from 5 to 7

While all four differ in their approach to the city, and vary in their geographical locations from Berlin, to Madrid, to Paris, each challenges the vision of what we might traditionally define as the city.  Berlin, represents a cornerstone in experimental montage/editing, The Hidden City an exploration of the literal and metaphorical darkness of Madrid, and Cleo follows a young woman set adrift in the streets of Paris over the course of one day. As Bestas then stands out as a tense rural contrast to invasive urban attitudes in the Galician countryside.

These four films engage in dialogue with one another in their relationship to temporal logic, ontological structure and phenomenological mood regarding what it means to experience a city in all its plentitude.  How can we relate this experience to our moment in an unstable contemporary world?  This and other questions will enhance the viewing as we engage in discussion before and after the projections.

"Cinematic Cities" is taught by Professors Patty Keller and Cecilia Lawless.


Berlin: Symphony of a Great City     
Directed by Walter Ruttmann, 1927 
Monday, January 31 at 7pm 

The Hidden City  
Directed by Victor Moreno, 2018 
Monday, February 19 at 7pm 

As Bestas/The Beasts
Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2023
Wednesday, March 27 at 7pm
Cleo from 5 to 7 
Directed by Agnes Varda, 1962 
Monday, April 29 at 7pm 

Related films

Scene from the film Berlin:Symphony of a Great City

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City


image from the film The Hidden City

The Hidden City


A couple sitting in lawn chairs on a sunny green lawn.

The Beasts (As Bestas)