“Manhatta” – Paul Strand, 1921

Let’s revisit Paul Strand.  “Manhatta” is a collaborative film created by photographer Paul Strand and painter Charles Sheeler.  I wrote about the impact of Strand’s “Wall Street” a few weeks ago; I remember seeing this in a Photography Club meeting a while back and it’s stuck with me.  It’s purpose is to explore the relationship between photography and film, and as such the camera rarely moves and only captures the incidental movements of the subject.  Made in 1921, the silent film (presented here with an orchestral score) vividly portrays the rising metropolitan New York.

What is interesting about “Manhatta” is that when watching it, you get the feeling that you’re watching moving photographs as opposed to a film.  The people and objects are moving freely in the frame; the camera captures a narrow slice of the world in front of it, just like a camera, and rather than move with the subject, it creates a new subject and a new focus every few seconds.  It’s living photography, and a must-see for anyone with an interest in film or photography.


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