Film: Defending Walter Benjamin against his devotees?

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Short film on Walter Benjamin and his essay „The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“.

The film tries to show that Benjamin in this essay sketches a theory of film that can be linked to the work of Sergei Eisenstein and Charlie Chaplin.

Martin Bartenberger, Vienna 2010/2011



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The transscript for the film can be downloaded here: Transcript – Defending Walter Benjamin against his devotees?

Original version/In German

The original version in german is available at
In the original versions the text inserts are in german.


Coming soon.


Sources of the film

Most of the sources that were used for the film are in german. The original list of them can be found on the website of the original version.

Walter Benjamin

» The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
The book is available as Penguin Book with a great cover. All the translations of the text in the film were taken from this edition. Another translation is online at

» Benjamin and Adorno
On the differences between Adorno and Benjamin see

Sergei Eisenstein

» Texts
I bet there are some collections of Eisensteins texts available in english. Especially influential are his text on montage. Also read his text about Chaplin called „Charlie the Kid“.

» Strike
I used a famous scene of his first feature film „Strike“. It is (as some of his other films) available at


Charlie Chaplin

Chaplins autobiography, describes his life and the reasons why he still did silent films when nobody else did anymore.

» Slavoj Zizek über das Ende von City Lights
Zizeks intepretation of the last scene of Chaplins great movie City Lights. The scene is regarded by many to be one of the best film endings ever, a part of it is shown in my film.


Theory of film

» Manifest of Sound
This manifesto was signed by russian filmmakers Eisenstein, Pudowkin and Alexandrow and can be read as opposite position to Benjamins sound film scepticism.
Download (Be careful: in this PDF Dziga Vertov is also mentioned as author, but as far as I know he hasn’t signed the manifesto)

» Introduction to documentary – Bill Nichols
In the last part of the film I’m referring to Nichols and his conceptf documentary modes.
See also