Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Fritz Lang's Metropolis Film Review (1927)

Fig. 1 Poster

Imagine a world where there is no Photoshop, there is no Maya, no Mud-box, no After Effects. That is the world where filming and movie production started. In this age we can see how developed technology has helped shape a new world, that of smooth objects, bright vivid colour, amazing scores and epic dialog. It all had to start somewhere. Metropolis is considered the starting point of the Sci-fi genre. There are always films that open with great scenes, Dreamworks with their custom fisher boy on the moon, Disney with their Tinkerbell circling the castle. Metropolis, as described by Damian Cannon ''From its opening montage of meshing gears and pounding machinery, Metropolis is a visual masterpiece.'' (Cannon, 1997), brings to a close what to expect when trekking down the long road that is film history, it is the starting point of imagination, what can be considered as the Big Bang of filming history - of Science Fiction story-telling at its best. 

The very vibrant and elaborate sound score accompanying the version we watched could really blow you away and really played well with the scenes, especially when the orchestra struck up within the speed running and fight scenes. This film was mastered 7 years after Dr Caligari and as described by Alan Diment, ‘Metropolis’ should be seen by anyone who professes to love the moving image. Not only is it a historic piece of cinema but it is also part of history itself.'' (Diment, 2010) 

Metropolis, in all it expense is a large, crowded and flashing city-scape crafted so that it depicts the social differences of the pre-modern and post modern eras. When looking at the city, you can see two separate life-styles, the rich in the bright over head wonder land and the poor workers in the bustling hot, steam ridden, machine tangled underground.  When Freder first lays eyes on the beautiful - yet porcelain-ic, -
Fig. 2 Maria
Maria, his world turned 'upside-down', in the literal sense as he took a chance to follow her down into the depths of the under-city, where he learns the truth about his father's magnificent city. It is here that he makes the courageous decision to swap places with a worker - who betrays him and succumbs to the temptations of the Upper-city - to fully understand Maria's role among the workers and the truth bellow his Father's mind-land. In his struggle we can see how he is trying to explain to his father what happened when the Heart Machine exploded, what he is turning the under-city into, this only got his father furious and the scientist expert Josaphat fired and himself followed by the creepiest looking henchman of that time era, know as ‘The Thin Man’. 

Freder's father Joh Frederson, the man who is the brains behind the city which he now rules from a modern day interpretation of the Tower of Babel, invests the help of a mad scientist named Rotwang, who in his madness has created a robot that in all its detail, and incredible transformation is to become the embodiment of ''evil'' Maria, a doppelganger in this ''Surreal, sprawling, and operatic, drawing on biblical and medieval Christian imagery as well as H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine..'' (Greydanus, Unknown) explains Greydanus, and is instructed to try and destroy the influences that ''good'' Maria had placed among the workers and get the workers to rebel. This, undesirably, leads to some rather wacky scenes, where 'evil' robot Maria performs some body movements that would probably pull a few ribs out on the less flexible person. In any case she wins over the minds of the wealthy male gender and sends both factions of society into chaos. Eventually, after a typical but comical damsel in distress scene, Feder performs (good) Maria's envisage of the ''Mediator'' and unites the hand - the workers - with the head - the upper powers (aka Feder's Father) using himself as the heart. This was a very dense scene of the movie, it was slow moving but effective. It brought the movie to an end rather nicely - a binding of friendships long forgotten. 

The fact that this movie inspired many childhood fantasies, sparked the influence for C-3PO, even set the iconic image of the mad scientist, there isn't a doubt that this movie is the Father of Sci-Fi, because without it we couldn't enjoy the wonders of escapism, of surrealism in its richest and purest forms. I guess you could say, Metropolis is the building blocks of our imagination. Either that or stemming nightmares where the film's depiction of Death and the Seven Deadly Sins could haunt anyone's dreams.

Illustration List. 
Fritz, L. Figure 1. Poster http://i.huffpost.com/gen/905173/thumbs/o-METROPOLIS-facebook.jpg (Accessed on 30/09/2014)
Fritz, L. Figure 2. Maria http://metropolis1927.com/inc/img/11.jpg (Accessed on 30/09/2014)
Friz, L. Figure 3. Robot Maria http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Observer/Pix/pictures/2010/9/9/1284047852183/METROPOLIS-1927-UFA-film-006.jpg (Accessed on 30/09/14)

Cannon, B. (1997). Film.u-net.com. http://www.film.u-net.com/Movies/Reviews/Metropolis.html (Accessed on 30/09/14)
Diment, A. (2010). Hackney Hive. http://www.hackneyhive.co.uk/index/2010/09/film-review-metropolis/ (Accessed on 30/09/14)
Greydanus, S. (unknown). Decent Films Guide. http://www.decentfilms.com/reviews/metropolis1927.html (Accessed on 30/09/14)


  1. Very nice Julia- this sounds so much more academic :)

    Just a couple of things - make sure that you label all the images (you have forgotten Fig 3), and try and refer to them within the text, for example '...as seen in Fig.2'. This is especially useful when you are talking about the visuals of the film, for example, the Deco architecture, or the style of the robot.

    Talking about robots, always assume that your audience comes to the film absolutely ignorant of everything... you say that the film '...sparked the influence for C-3PO'. You need a reference to tell your reader what this 'C-3PO' is, so maybe '...sparked the influence for the droid called C-3PO,(Star Wars, 1977)'.

  2. PS...don't worry about re-editing previous reviews, just take the comments and move forward :)

  3. Ah, well that's understandable, I did consider that but it completely passed my mind about concerning people who are ignorant of movies But in any case, thank you for the feedback.