December: First Look, Breuckelen (Video #2)
My second video of the month is called Breuckelen. It’s an ode to the early genre of films known as city symphonies. It uses a short film called Manhatta (1921) as its inspiration, but moves the setting to modern day Brooklyn. Here’s the original:
City symphonies were a form of non-narrative experimental film in the 1920s. They were an early precursor to documentaries, using on-location shooting to depict everyday life in cities. They are best known as being romantic celebrations of modernism and the “poetry” of life in an urban environment. The films were called symphonies because their construction was closer to a piece of music than a narrative film. They were either accompanied by music or silent.
Manhatta is one of the earliest city symphonies and is often called the first American avant garde film. It juxtaposes verses from Walt Whitman’s poem Mannahatta with shots of New York City, its buildings, people and surrounding waters. It’s an extraordinary look at early 20th century New York. Originally, Manhatta was silent, but most copies today show it with a musical soundtrack.
My film Breuckelen pays homage to Manhatta but attempts to update it a bit. Some of the shots are repeated or adjusted for its new setting (for example, the opening shot remains, though this time it is taken approaching Brooklyn by water). Also, instead of referencing one text, titles contain a variety of quotes from songs, poems and writings about Brooklyn. They are left unattributed. Breuckelen was again shot on my Canon T2i DSLR and paired with a number of contemporary instrumental songs.
The shooting for Breuckelen has been completed and I am now finishing editing. The final product will be up next week.