Song of the Rivers / Das Lied Der Ströme

On both 1st and 2nd May, the Film Archive celebrates May Day by screening the 1954 East German documentary, Das Lied Der Ströme / Song of the Rivers.

Das Lied Der Ströme / Song of the Rivers is a film that travels along six major rivers (the Volga, the Mississippi, the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon and the Yangtze), documenting international workers’ movements in these areas.

Song of the Rivers was a monumental production, shot in many countries by different film crews. The direction was a team effort, with Joop Huisken, Joris Ivens, Robert Ménégoz and Ruy Santos all contributing as directors. Dmitri Shostakovich composed the musical score, to which Berthold Brecht contributed lyrics. Songs are performed by Ernst Busch, the German star and noted communist. American actor and activist Paul Robeson also sings and provides the narration for part of the film.

The film, which unashamedly glorifies the worker and vilifies capitalism, is said to have been seen by 250 million people in communist countries.

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