A Camera Impression of New York

by Robert J. FLAHERTY
1925-1927 / 35mm / b&w / sound / 1S / 13' 14

"You understand that I am speaking of a film in which New York is the central character, not a picture in which individuals are portrayed, which would make New York merely the background for a story. I am talking about the picture in which New York is the story." —Robert Flaherty (1927)

“At once raw and eloquent, 'Twenty-Four Dollar Island' seems unfinished, and it may well have been. Very little is known except that parts of it were eventually used as a backdrop for a New York stage show. We also know that Rebecca Strand, wife of photographer Paul Strand, mentions seeing the film in August 1925 in an air-conditioned movie theater.

The film as presented here sources from two different copies, one more complete version held at Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam, and the other from Gosfilmofond of Russia showing that the film circulated there as late as 1929.

What we see is an artist’s infatuated with the Manhattan skyline shot with telephotos lenses. Views shot from the same camera positions are organized into visual clusters, and closer inspection reveals a vague attempt at organization, wherein Flaherty looks at what is in front of him to explore the space from slightly different angles.

There is also sense of dialogue with the earlier New York city scenics, 'Manhatta' (1921) and the newsreels." —Bruce Posner

New Music 2005 by Donald Sosin

Courtesy: Gosfilmofond of Russia, Nederlands Filmmuseum, Robert and Francis Flaherty Film Study Center

Courtesy: Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1893-1941


distribution format Digital file on server (HD)
version restored version
duration 13' 51
notes New music: Donald Sosin
screen 4/3 (single screen)
speed 24 fps
sound sound
rental fee 55,00 €