People on Sunday

Menschen am Sonntag

Robert Siodmak and Edgar Ulmer, Germany, 1929


The opening sequence gives a portrait of the city of Berlin through a series of descriptive shots and documentary moments: The camera “catches” the inhabitants’ daily moments: motorbike rides, passers-by rushing past on the pavement, street cafés, elevated trams: sometimes very mobile, it looks like the camera sweeps through the city randomly before selecting two characters in the heart of the crowd: a man and a woman, who are going to be slowly isolated by the only two close-ups in the sequence. Then, although the fictional challenge linked to the encounter is here for the spectator, reality remains very present thanks to the choice of long focus: the game of urban seduction (hesitations, glances) sometimes escapes from the spectator’s eye, hidden behind the buses and cars driving past. The inhabitants of the city, unaware of the presence of a camera, seem to be indifferent to this scene of seduction, taken by the reality of their daily life: crossing the street, pushing the delivery cart, running to catch the bus… Filmed in the 20s, these urban scenes have very dynamic and rhythmic editing retrospectively witnessing a moving reality for today’s spectator: the life of an active, carefree city with a fast-growing economy, caught in a moment of suspense, just before the shift into the economic crisis.