People on Sunday was both an experiment and a mainstream hit that would influence generations of film artists around the world. This unique hybrid of documentary and fictional storytelling offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin.
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It's Germany in 1930, and neither Caligari nor Hitler are anywhere in sight. A beautiful, sun-dappled idyll that manages to effortlessly be so many things at once: a city symphony (less mechanical than Vertov), proto-neorealism (more cohesive than Rossellini), and proto-New Wave (more generous than Godard). The best moments of the film spill over with off-hand life and cinematic beauty. Essential.
I was really surprised by this film! It came across almost like a Cassavetes film made in the silent era. Part documentary, part fiction, it really makes it seem like real life unfolding. The story is told through flirting, glances, jealous anger and through other, almost purely physical means.
This is a beautiful film that brilliantly captures real life and showcases the emerging talents of great directors who would go on to have a thriving and successful career in Hollywood. This is filmmaking at its most natural.
A treasure. Light and breezy - but also inventive enough that even today it is fresh and stimulating. No surprise that so many future Hollywood icons (Billy Wilder! Robert Siodmak! Edward G. Ulmer!) were involved in this experiment. As Richard Brody put it, "the first mumble core film, seventy-five years ahead of it's time."
I feel like this might be one of those instances where a famous film owes more to the later-famous people who worked on it than to its own comparative merit as cinema of its time. Maybe I'm being ungenerous though, because I just find stories of women competing over a man (and the casual assumption that this is what naturally happens) to be incredibly boring. Honestly though, for 1930 this is just... a good film.