Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang in 1927 is a silent German early science-fiction film set in the future, depicts a city that clearly divides the working class from the upper class who run it. However, the son of Metropolis's master controller falls in love with a prophet who predicts the coming of the 'savior' to help them alleviate their differences in the world. A crazy scientist has created the 'future man', a robot with which he bonds to Maria to create a likeness of her to lead the workers into rebellion and destroy the machines that keep the city alive and running. The workers destroy the heart machine and the city floods, leading the citizens to flee to safety. They capture the robot thinking it to be Maria, and burn it at the stake where it transforms right before them. The real Maria has been again captured by the scientist, and is rescued by Freder. The Guardian calls this film 'One of the biggest, strangest, maddest films in cinema history' which i suppose in a way it is.

This film was the leader for many films that we are so familiar with today; one of the big ones being Star Wars. The robot in Metropolis led the way in designs for C3PO, and the massive cityscapes that dominate the film were ideal designs for future futuristic sci-fi flicks. IMDB agree by saying: 'Metropolis" perhaps is THE most important and influential movie ever made. "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner" owe their existence (or at least their power) to it.'

There is real depth shown in the cityscapes, all the different layers building up to create a sense of chaos and rushing that would be the equivalent of the modern day London. As this film is a silent movie, I could let myself focus more on the scope of the landscapes and background more than the acting (which is very over-dramatic and theatrical, more to emphasise emotions as there is no sound). The paintings in the backgrounds blend seamlessly with the structures created for the city, so it is easy to imagine it to go on and up for miles.

A particular structure i found interesting was the machine where lots of workers all maintained at once, and once it got past a certain point seemed to turn into a beast and devour the hapless workers into its depths. I actually felt my self cringe internally at the beast-machine as i could almost imagine it to be real with its face, and also the way the workers died within its mechanisms before it returned to normal. The atmosphere that surrounded it was really well done, with the smoke jets and lighting.

In conclusion, this film was the figurehead for science-fiction films that followed it and aided in the design for characters, props and sets. It was creatively made, to the point of nearly causing the studio to go bust but the end result is some spectacular city views and interior sets. Film 4 had this to say about this film: 'Visually, thematically and in terms of tone and technique, this ranks among the most significant and visually spectacular films in the history of cinema.'

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