Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of  Multiplicity
Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity
Avant-Garde Film - Advertising - Modernity
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Film Studies
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Introduction: Avant-Garde, Advertising and the Managing of Multiplicity 1. Absolute Advertising: Abstraction and Figuration in Ruttmann’s Animated Product Advertisements (1922-1927) 2. The Cross-Section: Images of theWorld and Contingency Management in Ruttmann’s Montage Films of the Late 1920s (1927-1929) 3. Statistics and Biopolitics: Conceiving the National Body in Ruttmann’s Hygiene Films (1930-1933) 4. ŸÜberall StahlŒ: Forming the New Nation in Ruttmann’s Steel and Armament Films (1934-1940) Afterword: Of Good and Bad Objects Notes Bibliography Filmograph Index of Names Index of Film Titles Index of Subjects

Reviews and Features

"A veritable hothouse of modernity, the singular film career of Walter Ruttmann spans advertising films, Weimar era experiments, big city symphonies, industrial and medical shorts, Kulturfilme, and Nazi propaganda. Cowan's impressive book is keenly attentive to historical materials, ever acute in its close analyses, and extraordinarily mindful of this cinema's pertinence for current debates about media culture and mass society. Indeed, this exemplary study rises admirably and persuasively to the many challenges posed by Ruttmann's imposing body of work." -- Eric Rentschler, Harvard University

"In the first book on Walter Ruttmann in English, Michael Cowan tackles this major but apparently paradoxical filmmaker: an innovator of abstract animation who also directed one the most influential documentaries; leader of Weimar avant-garde film culture who ended up making propaganda films for the Nazis. With critical insight and a firm sense of cultural history, Cowan not only details Ruttmann's complex career, but uncovers its complex dynamics by providing a new account of both twenties experimental film and Third Reich cinema." -- Tom Gunning, University of Chicago

'[An] extremely well-written book and inspiring analysis of Ruttmann's work.' - Eva Hielscher, Ghent University, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 35 (2), June 2015

Michael Cowan

Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity

Avant-Garde Film - Advertising - Modernity

A key figure in early avant-garde cinema, Walter Ruttmann was a pioneer of experimental animation and the creative force behind one of the silent era's most celebrated montage films, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. Yet even as he was making experimental films, Ruttmann had a day job. He worked regularly in advertising -and he would go on to make industrial films, medical films, and even Nazi propaganda films.

Michael Cowan offers here the first study of Ruttmann in English, not only shedding light on his commercial, industrial, and propaganda work, but also rethinking his significance in light of recent transformations in film studies. Cowan brilliantly teases out the linkages between the avant-garde and industrial society in the early twentieth century, showing how Ruttmann's films incorporated and enacted strategies for managing the multiplicities of mass society.

This book has won the Willy Haas Award 2014 for its outstanding contribution to the study of German cinema.

Michael Cowan

Michael Cowan is Professor of film and media history in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of Iowa. His research, focused on German and European cinema, examines the broader cultural and technological contexts in which film practices emerged and evolved in the early 20th century. His publications have won numerous awards from the Society of Film and Media Studies and the British Association of Film and Television Studies Scholars, as well as the Willy Haas Award (Germany) and the Limina Award (Italy).