The city has long been used throughout art, photography and cinema, the first images appearing within illustrated journalism. Previously the main focus would have been landscapes and rural settings however as times changed and people moved forward, cities and urban life became more common, these rural landscapes did not provide enough information about urban life so this is where illustration took it further "It had created a visual culture embedded in the social reality of urban life and had urged visual art generally away from landscape toward cityscape, from stasis to kinesis." (Stout, 1999). From here cities were then included within photography and film. When looking within film, genre is always one of the main subjects and this can determine how a city is portrayed. A sci-fi film for example could make a city look more futuristic whereas a detective film, mysterious and dangerous, the city represents this to add to the specific genre. The city can also show the true reality of life, it may not in this case be a portrayal of a genre, but in fact a realization to the audience. "...the viewer confronts and subconsciously confirms the artist's perception of the reality of modern life." (Stout, 1999) What may initially be seen as just a movie and a storyline can bring up subjects that audiences may not have accounted for, it can provide self-reflection within the medium of cinema.
Walter Ruttmann created a city where it was more of a vision, something that derived from his imagination. Cities within films can be a consequence of certain actions such as pollution and global warming or in other cases just a product of the imagination. It can be a way of conveying and introducing new ideas to an audience "His city - a combination of footage of Moscow and of a number of locations in the Ukraine - provides a metaphor, a projection, for the structure of vision and perception embodied in the 'eye' of cinema." (Donald, 2010) Film, along with photography also showed the darker side to cities, it made it more obvious towards audiences and made them see the city for what it really was. Where before viewers would look away from such dark images of the city, "...photography rivets the gaze on an unpleasant but inescapable social reality." (Stout, 1999) hopefully by being aware of these issues, the viewers may stand up and do something about it, but it's never the case. Instead it is a reminder of what is out there, right under our own eyes. A lot of films hold a deeper meaning, whether it be social or political or how technology is affecting our everyday lives "...the most compelling narrative strand concern forces which, once unleashed, have an unmanageable capacity for destruction." (Donald, 2010)
Donald, J. 'Imagining the Modern City: Light in Dark Spaces' in Bridge, G. and Watson, S. (eds.) (2010) The Blackwell City Reader, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, pages 323 - 329
Stout, F. (1999) 'Visions of a New Reality: the City and the Emergence of Modern Visual Culture' in LeGates, R.T. and Stout, F. (eds.) (2003) The City Reader, London, Routledge, pages 147 - 150