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The Bridge 1928

  • Joris Ivens
  • May 4, 1928
  • 16 mins
  • English
  • Documentary
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.

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