Walter Ruttmann

Walter Ruttmann
Born(1887-12-28)28 December 1887
Died15 July 1941(1941-07-15) (aged 53)
Berlin, Germany
OccupationFilm director
Years active1921–1941
Notable work
Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt

Walter Ruttmann (28 December 1887 – 15 July 1941) was a German film director and along with Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling and Oskar Fischinger was an early German practitioner of experimental film. He also worked with sound alone (Wochenende, 1930).


Ruttmann was born in Frankfurt am Main; he studied architecture and painting and worked as a graphic designer. His film career began in the early 1920s. His first abstract short films, Lichtspiel: Opus I (1921) and Opus II (1923), were experiments with new forms of film expression, and the influence of these early abstract films can be seen in some of the early work of Oskar Fischinger. Ruttmann and his colleagues of the avant garde movement enriched the language of film as a medium with new formal techniques.

In 1926 he worked with Julius Pinschewer on Der Aufsteig an experimental fimm advertising the GeSoLei trade fair in Düsseldorf.

Ruttmann was a prominent exponent of both avant-garde art and music. His early abstractions played at the 1929 Baden-Baden Festival to international acclaim despite their being almost eight years old. Ruttmann licensed a Wax Slicing machine from Oskar Fischinger to create special effects for Lotte Reiniger. Together with Erwin Piscator, he worked on the film Melody of the World (1929), though he is best remembered for Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, 1927).

During the Nazi period he worked as an assistant to director Leni Riefenstahl on Triumph of the Will (1935). He died in Berlin of wounds sustained when he was working on the front line as a war photographer.

Select filmography[edit]

Lichtspiel Opus I (1921)
Lichtspiel Opus II (1922)

Further reading[edit]

  • Cowan, Michael. Walter Ruttmann and the Cinema of Multiplicity: Avant-garde-Advertising-Modernity. Amsterdam, NL: Amsterdam University Press, 2014. ISBN 9789089645852
  • Dombrug, Adrianus van. Walter Ruttmann in het beginsel. Purmerend, NL: J. Muusses, 1956.
  • Goergen, Jeanpaul. Walter Ruttmann: eine Dokumentation. Berlin: Freunde der deutschen Kinemathek, 1989. ISBN 9783927876002
  • Rogers, Holly and Jeremy Barham The Music and Sound of Experimental Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Template:9780190469900
  • Quaresima, Leonard, editor. Walter Ruttmann: cinema, pittura, ars acustica. Calliano (Trento), Italy: Manfrini, 1994. ISBN 9788870245035

External links[edit]