Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Space Oddities: Metropolis

Inspiring various genres such as science fiction, disaster, romance and possibly even horror and spy films, Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1927) continues to enchant viewers. With its now obsolete but still enchanting special effects, exaggerated acting, masses of extras, and engaging story, this film has remained an impactful piece of cinematography.
Fig. 1 Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis avoids categorization into a specific genre. It combines elements from romance, science fiction, some elements of horror and it even introduces disaster scenarios in film. "The climactic scenes in which Fredersen's son Freder (Gustav Frolich) saves crowds of children from floods having a rousing blockbuster intensity, setting a template for the disaster movie," (Romney, 2010). Once Metropolis introduced this, many films followed suit seeing how effectively it created suspense or even anxiety in the viewer.

It is impressive to imagine how in 1927, filmmakers were able to create such disaster scenes. Even the creation of the city and the illusion of it bustling with people is mind boggling considering the time the film was made. The detailed miniatures and use techniques such as using reflections from mirrors to create the buzzing city remain striking all of these years later. It's incredibly refreshing to see actual people on real sets versus computer generated people and objects. "Because they looked strange and unworldly compared to the slick, utterly convincing effects that are now possible, they were more evocative," (Ebert, 1998). Sometimes it's nice to see real physical people moving or real objects crumbling into pieces, even if it's not as realistic to what special effects can achieve today.

Fig. 2

Metropolis also accurately captures realistic human beings who are flawed, make mistakes, and sometimes have a large ego (often without realizing). In this film, various emotions and actions that are considered undesirable are expressed These include jealousy, anger, selfishness, inability to forgive, and so on. We see people mindlessly following a manipulative leader and getting a high off of the destruction they cause, sending them into a frenzy.

This creates an ability to relate to various characters, their emotions, and their actions within the film. Some examples include getting caught in the moment (when the mob started destroying machines), grudges (when Rotwang refuses to let go of Hel and orders his robot to destroy Fredersen's city and Freder), and even little details such as "the workers' subsequent malaise is likely something to which commuters can all too easily relate," (Abrams, 2010). This makes the film more engaging since the audience can easily relate and connect with various characters and their actions.

Fig. 3

The story of Metropolis will keep the viewer at the edge of their seat but avoids becoming too hectic by introducing slower paced scenes (admittedly too slow at times) such as intimate moments between Maria and Freder. However, some may believe that this makes Metropolis feel messy and difficult to follow. Many think that the gaps and the sometimes bizarre, patchy plot is so incoherent that it ruins the film . This is unfortunate as the film itself was edited poorly and parts of the original film are still missing. The missing chunks of the film continue to be found over time although they are sometimes too damaged to use. Overall, Metropolis remains a visually pleasing film with a fascinating plot and relatable characters despite some inconsistency in the film itself.

Abrams, S. (2010) Metropolis At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/metropolis Accessed on: 29/09/2015
Ebert, R. (1998) Metropolis At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-metropolis-1927 Accessed on : 29/09/2015
Romney, J (2010) Metropolis At: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/metropolis-fritz-lang-145-mins-pg-5851451.html Accessed on: 29/09/2015

Illustration List:
Figure 1. Metropolis (1927) [Poster] At: http://images.posterjunction.com/Metropolis-movie-poster-1020352735.jpg Accessed on: 29/09/2015
Figure 2. [Screenshot] At: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/QE2y89ShUIE/maxresdefault.jpg Accessed on: 29/09/2015
Figure 3. [Screenshot] At: http://cdn.bloody-disgusting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/maria1.jpg Accessed on: 29/09/2015


  1. Hi Deanna,

    Another insightful review - well done :)

    Don't forget to italicise your quotes though!