The Song of the Rivers

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The Song of the Rivers
Directed by Joris Ivens
Joop Huiskens
Robert Menegoz
Produced by DEFA-Studio für Wochenschau- und Dokumentarfilme
for the World Federation of Trade Unions
Written by Vladimir Pozner][1]
Joris Ivens
Starring Paul Robeson
Music by Dmitri Shostakovich
Bertolt Brecht (lyrics)
Cinematography Erich Nitzschmann
Anatoli Koloschin
Sascha Vierny
Maximilian Scheer
Edited by Ella Ensink
Release date
1954
Running time
90 minutes
Country East Germany
Language German
English
French
Dutch

The Song of the Rivers (German: Das Lied der Ströme) is a 1954 documentary film production by the East Germany's Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA). Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens was the leading director. The sprawling film celebrates international workers movements along six major rivers: the Volga, Mississippi, Ganges, Nile, Amazon and the Yangtze. Shot in many countries by different film crews, and later edited by Ivens, Song of the Rivers begins with a lyrical montage of landscapes and laborers and proceeds to glorify labor and modern industrial machinery. The musical score is by Dmitri Shostakovich, with lyrics written by Berthold Brecht, and songs performed by German communism's star Ernst Busch and famous American actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson who also narrates.[2] Song of the Rivers is an ode to international solidarity.[3]

Popularity in communist countries[edit]

After World War II, Ivens spent several years in East Germany, where he edited Song of the Rivers, which is said to have been seen by 250 million people in communist countries. A tribute to international trade unionism, the film combines images of life along six great rivers: the Mississippi, the Ganges, the Nile, the Yangtse, the Volga, and the Amazon. Unlike the intimacy of "Power and the Land," another Ivens film, abstract grandiloquence is the keynote. The narrator Paul Robeson states: "Day by day with our hands — yellow, white, or black — we change the face of the earth and the future of mankind." [4] Ivens’s editing gives the film a simple, cumulative force. The longing for unity expressed in Song of the Rivers is apparent throughout the documentary.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.pozner.fr/
  2. ^ Duberman, Martin. Paul Robeson, 1989,notes on sources,pg752.
  3. ^ Senses of Cinema: Joris Ivens
  4. ^ Duberman, Martin. Paul Robeson, 1989, pg 518.
  5. ^ "Review". The Phoenix. April 18, 2002. Retrieved 2009-02-13. After World War II, Ivens spent several years in East Germany, where he made the Communist blockbuster Song of the Rivers (1954; April 19 at 5:45 p.m.), which is said to have been seen by 250 million people in Eastern Bloc countries. A paean to international trade unionism, the film combines images of life along six great rivers: the Mississippi, the Ganges, the Nile, the Yangtse, the Volga, and the Amazon. Instead of the intimacy of "Power and the Land," abstract grandiloquence is the keynote. The narrator states: "Day by day with our hands — yellow, white, or black — we change the face of the earth and the future of mankind." Dmitri Shostakovich’s dry, emphatic music seems to impose itself on the footage rather than work with it, but Ivens’s editing gives the film great, if simple, cumulative force. The longing for unity expressed in Song of the Rivers may now invite ridicule rather than sympathy, but before rejecting this movie, you might ask yourself: how many Hollywood films ever show people working? 

External links[edit]