Which US city is considered the title city

City in the movie. Analysis of the cityscape in Michael Glawogger's documentary “Megacities. 12 stories of survival "

Table of Contents

1 Introduction and course of the investigation

2 Theoretical part
2.1 Documentary
2.2 Urbanity, Megacities and Globalization
2.3 City - film relationship

3 film analysis
3.1 "Megacities. 12 Stories of Survival "
3.2 Big cities and globalization
3.3 Places of exploitation: working and living
3.4 transit areas

4 Conclusion / summary

5 Bibliography

6 Appendix

1 Introduction and course of the investigation

In the present work the portrayals of large cities are illustrated using the example of the documentary film “Megacities. 12 Stories of Survival. ”By Michael Glawogger from 1998, with the investigation of the film excerpts concentrating on the subject of the big city in the film. The film Glawoggers is a collection of stories or strategies of survival in the big cities of Mumbai, New York, Mexico City and Moscow. The journalist Kämmerer describes the film in his article, which is shown on the physical copies of the film, as a melodramatic documentary.

In this work three interrelated aspects are to be considered: the interplay of human film characters, the factual-objective city structure and mental structures. The following questions are asked: How are the city dwellers positioned within the cinematic city? What does the film show us about the cities and how is each city represented? What images of the city and what feeling of urban life does the film convey?

Due to the arbitrary structure of the film, the open dramaturgy, the missing plot lines as well as the avoidance of the director's comment, but also due to the fact that the film takes place in four different cities, times and cultures, the representation of the big city is exemplary in this work and processed fragmentarily. The aim of this work is not to set up a complex comparison of the four cities, but to work out individual aspects with the help of pictorial examples for which the theoretical basis must be created in this work. However, as far as this allows, attempts are being made to create comparison criteria and to relate the four cities to each other in individual sections. In view of the above-mentioned characteristics of the film and the large subject area, this work does not claim to give a final picture of the metropolitan area in the film "Megacities". Rather, the specific ways in which the film is viewed should be worked out.

In the recent past, the subject of the city in film has been dealt with from the perspectives of film and media studies, architecture and urban planning, and many publications have been made on this subject (including David Clarke, Hellmut Fröhlich, Hanno Möbius / Guntram Vogt). However, the focus was on fictional films. The subject of the city in film in the context of documentary film has hardly been considered in specialist literature.

In the second chapter (theoretical part) the essential fundamentals for the present study are discussed. For this purpose, the term “documentary film” is first defined in Chapter 2.1 and a distinction is made from other film genres. Chapter 2.2 is devoted to the terms "urbanity", "megacities" and "globalization", which are important for the study. In connection with globalization, the specific landscapes or "scapes" are discussed in particular. Chapter 2.3 concludes the theoretical part, which is devoted to the diverse relationships or relationships between city and film. This investigation can therefore not be limited to the genre of documentary films. Afterwards, various ways of representing a city in the film are explained.

In the third chapter (practical part) the individual excerpts from Glawogger's film are analyzed. First, in section 3.1, an introductory brief description of the film is given and the name of the film is linked to globalization in general. Chapter 3.2 then deals with globalization in the large cities shown by Glawogger and their “scapes”. Chapter 3.3 examines the film sections in which the places of exploitation are shown, with the focus here on the monotonous, repetitive work that is typical for the cities shown. The garbage dumps and garbage collectors typical of the big cities are discussed. In the following chapter 3.4, the physical transit areas shown in the film (such as the subway) are examined in connection with the anonymity and loneliness of people in the big cities. Then the transit from reality to the dreams of the people in the big cities will be discussed. It will be shown that the dreams and desires of the people living there help them to cope with the tough everyday life of their lives. Chapter 4 concludes the study, in which the main results of the work are summarized in theses.

2 Theoretical part

2.1 Documentary

As part of an analysis of documentary film, it makes sense to first explain the concept of documentary film and to distinguish this type of film from other film genres.

Documentaries are often referred to as the “window to the world” or the “mirror of society”. The definition of what a documentary film exactly is has a long tradition.1. However, there is no clear definition of the term in the specialist literature. The reasons for this are constant changes and constant changes in the genre. An easily understandable definition, however, is the following: the documentary film describes all those films that do not contain any fictional subject matter and thus forms an antonym to fictional film. This means that the term only has the function of distinguishing the feature film from the documentary film (Hattendorf 1995: 17).

The documentary film directors John Grierson and Dziga Vertov were the first to separate the two genres from each other and to assign a specific relation to reality and a social function to the documentary.2 A characteristic of the documentary is the reference to reality, which is defined by the delimitation from fiction (Hohenberger 1998: 8 f.). In this regard, the concept of reality and its differentiation will be discussed later.

Eva Hohenberger differentiates between non-filmic, pre-filmic, film reality, filmic and post-film reality. Non-film reality is understood to mean the real world that exists independently of the film. The pre-film reality is part of the non-film reality. In particular, it is about what is specifically and purposefully placed in front of the camera. Reality film is to be understood as everything that goes into the production of a film, for example financing, technology, editing, distribution and advertising. The cinematic reality is the finished film. The post-film reality is to be understood as the reception in the broadest sense (Hohenberger 1988: 29 f.).

John Grierson suggests that the documentary should be understood as a “creative treatment of the current”. This means that no non-fictional film can depict reality as it actually is, since reality as such does not exist and therefore cannot be documented. A documentary film can never be objective because it is always shaped by at least one perspective (Jost in Hohenberger 1998: 216). "Rather, every creative treatment of reality with cinematic means represents a condensation and unrealization of reality" (Lipp 2012: 16).

When filming a documentary film, one tends to perceive what is shown as real. This degree of reality can be varied depending on the type of film. While a feature film creates an imaginary reality, the documentary film reflects a "real" reality. Reality here means that a specific place and time are reproduced in the film (Beyerle 1997: 50 ff.). In a documentary film, the image is evidence of a historical event that took place in reality (Ibid .: 58).

The tendencies in recent theoretical debates on the subject of documentary films tend to equate documentary and fictional films. In “Semiologie des Films” (1972), Christian Metz tried to understand film as a drawing system in the tradition of the French semiologist Ferdinand de Saussure. Both a documentary and a feature film are “texts” with a dramaturgical narrative structure and with at least one protagonist. The fictional and non-fictional film thus form a strongly interwoven structure. The documentary films distinguish themselves from the dramaturgical narrative structure, the feature films, on the other hand, are based on authenticity or realize a real story (Lipp 2012: 17).

“Films reflect our reality. So let's look in this mirror ”(Kracauers 1974: 249). The documentary tries to depict, examine or tell the aspects of the world around us. Eva Hohenberger is of the opinion that the documentary film must be defined as “social practice” (Hohenberger 1998: 29). One of the essential features of documentary film in the last twenty years is the discovery and observation of everyday life (Roth 1982: 23).

Minh-ha is of the opinion that ordinary people are the "fundamental referents of the social", "[...] to point the camera at them, to show their (industrialized) poverty and to show their unfamiliar lifestyle for the always shopping. and to put an audience willing to donate into a context and to pack them accordingly in order to enter the sacred realm of the morally correct, the social. In other words: when the so-called social rules, then there is simply no discussion about how these people (we) are represented in the media, how their (our) lives are given meaning, how their (our) truth is constructed or how The truth is conveyed to them (us) and how one disregards them (us), to what extent this representation is related to ideology or is ideology and how the hegemony of people continues its inexorable course. "(Minh-ha in Hohenberger 1998 : 311)

Grierson founded his theory in opposition to the economic and ideological superiority of the feature film and attributed a social function to the new genre (Hohenberger 1998: 10). He attributes the documentary film to a political and pedagogical educational purpose and sees in it a new kind of popular education for state political issues (ibid .: 1998: 12f). The educational effectiveness that he shows and ascribes to the documentary film blurs the line between a documentary film and a propaganda film.

As a counter-reaction to this, Direct Cinema emerged in the 1960s, which made a claim to an unadulterated representation of reality. The aim of Direct Cinema was not to intervene in what was being documented and just as little to comment on it. Therefore, for example, comments are avoided or no interviews are carried out (Hohenberger 1988: 125 ff.).

A representative of Direct Cinema, the German documentarist Klaus Wildenhahn, assumes that film theory is part of social criticism. Wildenhahn's point of criticism is “the exclusion of the working class from the media” due to the capitalist economy (Hohenberger 1998: 17). The differences between fiction and documentary film would follow from the basic economic provisions:

“[…] Politically, the feature film is a means of the rulers, the documentary, on the other hand, represents the ruled; socially, the feature film serves to create legends, the documentary film serves to inform and discuss society; the feature film presents solutions, the documentary film demands (non-filmic) solutions; Aesthetically, with regard to the organization of “material”, the feature film forms a closed form, the documentary an open form; methodically, the production of a feature film means the controllability and repeatability of pre-film reality, whereas the production of a documentary means the subordination of the film apparatus to the uniqueness of historical reality. ”(Hohenberger 1998: 17)

2.2 Urbanity, megacities and globalization

In the first step of this chapter, the term “urbanity” is explained and

discussed what defines a city as urban. Then the terms “megacities” and “globalization” are explained.

The word "urbanity" originally comes from Latin. "Urbs" and means city. Accordingly, the adjective “urban” means urban. One can say that “urban” on the one hand describes urban places, on the other hand lifestyles are also described as “urban”.

In the specialist literature, the term “urbanity” is assigned many meanings and different characteristics. Due to the variety of meanings, there is no clear definition of the term. Different scientific disciplines such as sociology, sociography and urban planning each attribute different context-dependent meanings, characteristics and qualities to the word.

“Urbanity” can also be understood as a historical category that describes certain phases of social developments and ways of life. The German urban sociologist Walter Siebel summarizes in his book What makes a city urban? five essential definitions of urbanity in their historical development together:

1. From the functionalist perspective of the Athens Charter, a city should fulfill the four functions: living, working, relaxing and transporting. It is important to differentiate or separate the functions.
2. The Chicago School of Social Ecology perspective attributes the size, density and heterogeneity of the population to urbanity.
3. From a sociological perspective, urbanity ties the aspects of public and private life together. A city is all the more urban “the more everyday life polarizes itself into the interconnected spheres of privacy and public” (Siebel 1994: 6).
4. From a political perspective, which was most clearly represented by Edgar Salin, urbanity develops on the basis of two criteria: civic virtue and the participation of the citizens in the city government. With the civic virtue Salin means the social position of the city dweller through civic education and achievement. The second criterion describes democracy.

From the perspective of the history of civilization, urbanity is defined as the place of emancipation from natural constraints. The point here is to see a city as a machine and to free it from naturally set time rhythms (Ibid .: 5ff.).

It goes without saying that every perspective is not free from criticism. A detailed consideration and discussion of this criticism is not possible due to the scope of this work.

According to Meyer's Encyclopedic Lexicon, urbanization is described as the process of urban development that leads to the emergence of modern urban settlements. Urbanization is thus described as a process of increasing population density in urban areas (Meyers Enzyklopädischer Lexikon 1981: 222). There are different reasons for migration from the countryside to the city. The most important ones are higher incomes and greater chances of getting a job. Not only population growth, but also the expansion of cities into natural areas are part of urbanization.

Depending on how “urban” is defined, there is a certain relationship or differentiation between town and country. More than half of the world's population currently lives in cities. The explosive growth of cities over the past few decades is a new phenomenon. The strong growth of cities has led to the emergence of phenomena / concepts such as “global cities” or “megacities”.

Both urbanization and the emergence of megacities are closely linked to the economic development and integration of cities in global economic and social contexts. The definition and characteristics of a “megacity” are also discussed.

In current urban research there are a number of different approaches to defining the term “megacity”. According to Gabler's economic encyclopedia, “megacity” is referred to as a location for politically and economically important companies and institutions with important information and traffic flows. A decisive criterion for a “megacity” is the size of the city or the number of inhabitants. According to the UN, a “megacity” has at least 10 million inhabitants. Due to the huge migration flows, there is a rapid growth in the population rate and, as a result, a lack of jobs, housing and inadequate infrastructure.Accordingly, a large proportion of the population lives in hut settlements or slums and is gainfully employed in the informal sector.3 According to Gabler's economic encyclopedia, the “informal sector” is characterized by labor-intensive production, low skill requirements, simple technologies, small business sizes and poor pay.4

The decisive criterion for a megacity is therefore the number of inhabitants. During "Global Cities"5 function qualitatively on the global level, “megacities” can be distinguished from other urban concepts by their quantitative characteristics. “Megacities” are often also “global cities” such as Tokyo or New York, which are important global economic centers. “Global cities”, on the other hand, are not necessarily “megacities”, such as Zurich or Frankfurt, with a population below 10 million.

While this has opened up new opportunities for some such large cities, it has also created enormous problems and challenges for many others. The growth of financial and service centers promoted increasing economic and social polarization, which led to changes in income distribution, work organization and labor demand. On the one hand, the financial and service industries are creating a growing number of highly qualified and well-paid jobs. On the other hand, there is a larger number of low-paid, unattractive and insecure jobs (Sassen 1996: 137 ff.). There is also a great need for secretaries, building cleaners, suppliers, small workshops and production facilities that are required for the running of economic activities. In developing countries it is often problematic to be in paid employment at all, and as a result people are willing to take on low-paid and health-impairing work. Such polarization poses a major challenge to the social integration of these people. Women and people of different social, ethnic and geographical origins as well as all other types of minorities are particularly affected.


1 In the context of this work it is impossible to explain a complete history of the documentary.

2 With John Grierson, the genre of the documentary film was for the first time ascribed a "realistic meaning" (more on this Hohenberger 1998: 13 f.).

3 http://wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de/Definition/megastadt.html?referenceKeywordName=Megacity (last accessed on July 21, 2014).

4 http://wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de/Definition/informeller-sektor.html (last accessed on July 21, 2014)

5 According to Saskia Sassen, a “global city” is characteristic because of its special function in the world economy. In the course of history, “global cities” have established themselves as financial and world trade centers, have taken on an organizational and control function and are able to direct capital flows (Sassen 1996: 20).

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