When the sunny Amsterdam is startled by a sudden weather change, its appearence changes drastically. Ivens' city symphony explores the lived experience of a rainstorm.


“Rain scenario, I walk around in the rain here thinking about it, and look and look. I'll shoot some of it in the coming days.”

Joris Ivens1


“The rain we see in the Ivens film is not one particular rain which fell somewhere, some time. These visual impressions are not bound into unity by any conception of time and space. With subtle sensitivity he has captured, not what rain really is, but what it looks like when a soft spring rain drips off leaves, the surface of a pond gets goose-flesh from the rain, a solitary raindrop hesitatingly gropes its way down a windowpane, or the wet pavement reflects the life of a city. We get a hundred visual impressions, but never the things themselves; nor do these interest us in such films. All we want to see are the individual, intimate, surprising optical effects. Not the things but their pictures constitute our experience and we do not think of any objects outside the impression. There are in fact no concrete objects behind such pictures, which ar images, not reproductions.”

Béla Balázs2

  • 1Joris Ivens writing to Mannus Franken, 19 and 25 October 1927, quoted in: Fons Grasveld, Mannus Franken, mens en kunstenaar. (Amsterdam, 1976), 75-76.
  • 2Béla Balázs, Béla Balázs : early film theory : Visible man and the spirit of film. (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011), 160-161.
UPDATED ON 25.02.2023