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1 | Films on town planning from the archive</br>Frame from the film The City of Tomorrow, Berlin 1930

The City of Tomorrow, Berlin, 1930

A filmed town planning scheme for every city

Leonardo Ciacci

When the town planner Maximilian von Golbeck made this film with the director Erich Kotzer in 1930, he was Stadtbaurat, town clerk in the Nuremberg city council; something that certainly added interest to the film due to its institutional aims. In thirty minutes of animated drawings mixed with live filming, graphics and statistics on the most worrying themes of life in the cities, the film puts together an important series of social and political themes, along with those of town planning.



Die Stadt von Morgen / The City of Tomorrow, Berlin 1930

Direction, subject and screenplay by Maximillian von Golbeck and Erich Kotzer, with the assistance of Hans Stephan (director), Hans Hasse (jurist), Osvald Liede, Werner von Walthausen (architects) and Max Saüme (engineer). 
Consultants: Otto Blum and Hermann Jansen
Technical Information: B/w 35 mm film, mute with subtitles, length 30 minutes, 

Promoted by
the Ministry of Social Security, the rail and road companies and the planning associations for central Germany and Assia and the cities of Nuremberg and Hagen.
•  Watch the film online | Complete version:
Die Stadt von Morgen / The City of Tomorrow



In a cultural climate where the 'city question' was insistently raised, Golbeck and Kotzer's film on town planning seeks out the historical reasons that explain the poor levels of development reached in German cities, and do this by illustrating the subsequent stages in the spontaneous development of an industrial city [1]. 'The film Die Stadt von Morgen is intended to show how little organic sense there is in the development of our cities and how much the errors and neglect of this non-methodical growth weigh on the life of each individual and on the economic system'. It is with these words that the film's two authors clarify the sense of their work to readers of 'Der Städtebau', in an article presenting the film published in No. 5 of 1930. 'In this way we arrived at the idea of bringing comprehension of the meaning and scope of modern town planning to the largest circle of people, by way of a film'. 'The completion of this town planning film (said Werner Hegemann) is an event that has been awaited for decades. ... No city that looks at its reordering and reorganisation will in future neglect to show its changes and predicted development in a film for the masses capable of enthusing them'.

The first part of the film is dedicated to reconstruction of the events that transformed an old farming village into an industrial city that is chaotic, dangerous, polluted and, especially, conditioned by the disordered amalgamation of all the different urban activities. The second part goes back rather to the initial situation and shows the development of that same symbolic city, as it would have turned out if town planning principles had been applied to its transformation. Theoretically, the film takes cues from all directions. 'We chose the satellite model (as opposed to the radial) as an example of organic development only because this seemed more appropriate to our film intention', which remains that of providing a critical instrument to technicians, architects, parliamentarians and citizens. Educating the citizens thus becomes a condition of town planning which the makers of this film intend meeting and resolving by the means and language of film. It is, however, necessary to stipulate a justified reservation on the form of 'educational' procedure adopted. Two methods of representation intersect. The first consists of dividing description of the two realities into two separate parts: one dedicated to the problem and its causes; the other focusing on the solution. The second consists of representing the work of the technician, as politically neutral, both in describing and in proposing procedures, which are thus mainly justified by the single fact that they present an alternative to the dangerous practice of leaving things to themselves. 
One last remark: the choice of title for the film, La città di domani, does not seem casual: Urbanisme, published by Le Corbusier in Paris in 1925, had the previous year been translated into English under the title The City of Tomorrow. An implicit controversy must certainly be conjectured.


[1] Cfr. FolKert Lüken-Isberner, Der städtebaulich bedeutsame Lehr-und Informationsfilm 1946-1960, Centaurus, Pfaffenweiler 1989