Metropolis (1927) Original Length 210min
(Figure 1: Opening Scene)
The largest budgeted movie of its time, Metropolis (1927) is a silent black and white German expressionist film directed by Fritz Lang. Metropolis is home to a Utopian society where its wealthy residents live a carefree life, however the poorer city goers are worked vigorously underground to support the machines that run the city, to only rise up as a rebellion to take back what is rightfully theirs.
The opening scene where the workers are shown dressed alike, walking in sync, holding their heads down in submission, resignation and desperation; considering Germany itself after the War, can make the viewer feel a sense of remorse and compassion for the workers, maybe that they have experienced a similar emotion during some time in their life. As shown in Figure 1, the triangular shape is very common throughout the film. The way the city ascends can also be seen in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene, which could be a hypothetical ladder, one person above them all, just like in a food chain. The film itself is highly based around the thought of religion, belief and has signs of many influences.
(Figure 2: The Tower of Babel)
One such influence is shown from The Tower of Babel; modeled after Brueghel's oil painting in 1563. The tower is a metaphor of mans strength and willpower to become more than the almighty, a triumph among men; however this story is an example of pride punished, just how Metropolis is foretold.
The quote from Quentin Crisp; ''In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address, they eventually live in such Metropolis.'' is very much the case in modern society. The world is forever expanding in many contexts and without change, we will never understand the differences from ones self. This can be shown as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Pride.
(Figures 3 and 4: i-D Magazine Covers)
(Figure 5: Maria's Wink)
A similarity I saw when the Android Maria has one eye closed with a devilish grin, I thought of the iconic i-D magazine. The way Brigitte Helm had acted Maria's sinister robotic twin, really is impressive to watch. Sharp movements, evil-like expressions and ludicrous intentions really adds to this atmospheric 'eerie' world.
From the quote; ''All great art is born from the Metropolis'' by Ezra Pound, comes lots of evidence. The Robot named 'Hel' has been extremely influential for several modern sci-fi films and TV shows; such as C-3PO out of the Star Wars films and Cybermen out of the Doctor Who series. Many recognize this specific poster (Figure: 6) just from the iconic robots we see today.
(Figure: 6 Metropolis Poster)
Metropolis really is the trend setter for modern fantasy science-fiction films. The mood is captured by the tempo of the music along with dramatic silences and how the actors move with it. Overall, this film is a must see and despite some parts being lost, the film still captures the audience from start to finish.
Figure 1: By Michael Pinto 2010 at fanboy.com
Figure 2 & 5: Film and TV reviews at vigilantcitizen.com
Figures 3 & 4: i-D Magazine Covers
Figure 6: Metropolis Poster
Plot Summery of Metropolis written by Arnoud Tiele
In film quotes of Metropolis (1927)