Under the sunset of expressionism, the German trend in the cinema of the early 20th century, in 1927, Fritz Lang demonstrates his phantasmagoria, a vision of the future with emotional, deeply expressed features.
The dystopian film METROPOLIS gave impetus to world cinema and forever changed its appearance; thus, the avant-garde artist once again confirmed the versatility of art on film and the unbridled breadth of thoughts, ideas, and innovation.
It's definitely the best silent film ever crafted, and arguably one of the best movies of all time. Silent films usually try to avoid complex plot and multiple storylines because of the limitations of the medium, but Fritz Lang succeeds in connecting all of the loose ends in his monumental vision to produce one of the greatest stories to grace the silver screen.
I am not too familiar with the silent film - I saw a couple of films with Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin watched as a child. The stronger was the impression that METROPOLIS made on me. I watched the restored version, which was recorded from a certain film screening with live accompaniment of a symphony orchestra. It lasts for 2.5 hours. What’s really clear is that the immersion into the world of METROPOLIS was complete, I didn’t see or hear anything around, looking at the characters.
Lang's film is not just a utopia but a dystopian film with widely expressed oppressive features of totalitarianism. The negative characteristic of public suppressed by a powerful mechanism and remoteness from the desired idyll, which dissolves in the minds of ordinary people every hour more and more - all this leads to the loss of a realistic view of a peaceful, even slightly unreal existence.
METROPOLIS (1927), Official Trailer - Video credit: youtube
Metropolis lives, it breathes, boils. This is the city of the future, divided into two parts. One part of this life lives and works under the ground, while the other is dominant and does not count hours of rest and entertainment. All power in the city belongs to the magnate Joh Frederse (Alfred Abel).
Like fire and water, they are distant from each other. Some people, dissolving in the idyll of bliss, do not notice the physical tired of others, and there is no equality in matters of life and peaceful existence. But with a fast, chaotic movement, one particle can fly beyond the edge of one and involuntarily get beyond the boundaries of a completely different life.
The catastrophe, the intersection of two minds, the clash of the historically established mentality, a revolution in the consciousness of the individual - all this leads to an emotional outburst
Joh's son - Freder (Gustav Frohlich) guesses about the injustice prevailing in the Metropolis. Going down to the engine zone, Fredder is horrified: he sees the terrible mechanism devouring people. Unable to put up with what he saw, he begins to fight evil.
METROPOLIS review - Photo credit: twitter
The plot captures the viewer from the very first minutes, more precisely from the seconds. From the epigraph: "There should be a heart between the head and the hands." This epigraph is the basis of the entire film. It is also shown at the end of the film; the whole film passes around it. This movie carries this epigraph. But the plot of this film is multifaceted.
Therefore, to say that this epigraph has the single meaning of this film will be not entirely correct. METROPOLIS film is about two classes: the class of workers and the elite. METROPOLIS is a film about the relationship between these two classes. Although people speak the same language, they still cannot understand each other. METROPOLIS is a film about what binds these classes: heart, soul; head and hands, and between them - a heart. But besides all this, the METROPOLIS film is about love.
He is the son of the ruler of Metropolis living upstairs and having fun in the Eternal Gardens. She is from the underground, preaching to the workers about the world. She opens his eyes to him, and he is already the head and the heart.
bitLanders AI-Themed Blogging: METROPOLIS - Photo credit: tumblrgallery
As I already wrote, this film is multifaceted; therefore, to determine the genre of this film is not so easy. It's a fantasy, but not fully. This is a drama, but not only. METROPOLIS is a dystopian film.
The Personages and Actors
This is not a simple matter - silent movies. All experiences and emotions of the character need to be able to reflect by facial expressions and gestures. Therefore, now, in 2019, the actors too often puffed eyes, if they wish to show fear, amazement, attention, anger, look a little funny. A little strange also their fast jerky movements are. But soon, you will stop noticing all these features.
Brigitte Helm played Maria and the robot. At first, it seemed - well, such an image as Maria is not difficult to play: an open look and inspired gestures. But when Maria Robot appeared, it became clear that the actress was stunning. What a contrast! In the scene when Maria-robot is the first time with Joh Fredersen, and he gives her a task, Bridgette’s face causes a shiver - it shows her greed, hidden threat, and deceit, and contempt for the world - all in one facial expression. And the preaching of Maria robot? What the heat of vicious passions, boiling energy!
Science fiction film METROPOLIS - Photo credit: imdb
Separately, I want to mention the dance of the Babylonian harlot. This episode is striking in its ambiguity - what to say, it's an exclusive dance, an individual plastic, but so that everyone should immediately go crazy of passion?
Gustav Frohlich. From the first shots, his hero causes not very good feelings with a certain infantilism. But when he decides to shelter Josaphat and replaces 11811 in working with machines, it becomes clear that Freder is still a solid and deep personality who is able to make decisions in alliance with the heart and the mind and execute them. From that moment on, I was filled with respect for this character. And Gustav Froelich played all the impulses of Freder very lively, sincerely, for real! Perfectly revealed a positive, but not sugary character.
Alfred Abel. This is my favorite among the male characters. In his game, there is no grotesque, which is present in other actors, and emotions are skillfully conveyed by facial expressions and meager gestures. Such a game would be highly appreciated by me in today's cinema. Johann Frederson is a courageous, intellectually developed, self-confident type. He looks so helpless in the scene when his hair turns gray.
bitLanders AI-Themed Blogging: METROPOLIS - Photo credit: imdb
Fritz Rasp. He is The Thin Man. Fritz, in my opinion, has extraordinary facial features. When appearing on the screen, in the gait and look of the Thin Man, the hidden danger is clearly readable. The scene where Fritz’s character offers Josaphat cigars in Freder’s apartment is tense as a string, and Fritz’s face play is admirable at these moments.
And finally - Rudolf Klein-Rogge. The crazy, but at the same time scientific, character's approach to reality, Hel's obsession, is perfectly conveyed. It’s a pity that in the second half of the film the inventor was given little time.
That is, as you understood, practically all the actors played perfectly. Chic scenes with masses, especially children - the fear of children's faces are so natural that I even thought that they scared them purposely before filming.
The film about robots: METROPOLIS - Photon credit: imdb
First Artificial Intelligence in the Movie History
And among the monotony, there is a place for a robot created by a man who can become the ruler of an innumerable number of workers. People turn into animals, real savages, driven by instincts with a blurred mind. Can a machine control a person? Yes, if this machine is also controlled by a man. So it turns out an endless chain, which, if it breaks, will not lose a single component link.
I was so fascinated by the guises of Brigitte Helm - from the factory Madonna to the fatal cyborg.
The image of a woman - robot, the first robot (and I want to draw a parallel with the C-3RO from Star Wars) does not even cause a smile; everything is so detailed and believable even today. The exterior of the robot is also very effective. You must see the brilliant episode of creating a robot.
The inventor Rotwang creates a robot that cannot be distinguished from a man, and Freder’s father demands that the scientist give his creation the appearance of Maria.
Science fiction film METROPOLIS - Photo credit: metropolis-1927.blogspot
In the METROPOLIS, a considerable part of the film belongs to fiction. Remember how Isaac Asimov on the pages of his fantastic works, came up with robots, which then became very similar to us? So, there is such a suspicion that Azimov drew inspiration for his fantasies about the future from the work of Lang.
Robots, I suppose, in the 20s of the last century surprised, astonished, shocked the audience with the likelihood of how human-like mechanisms (the term “robot” did not exist at that time), take our places and what the threat they can carry to all mankind.
Elements of fiction in the face of the robot, something like erotica, biblical allusions - it all produces a magnificent effect.
First Artificial Intelligence Film: METROPOLIS - Photo credit: tumblr
Fantastic images that give shade to totalitarianism are just a background, a surrealistic illusion, but the ordinariness does not disappear anywhere, it will always take its stable place in this story. The reality seems just disgusted.
Honed to disgusting brilliance, a fantastic view of the city is convincingly and ominously frightening. It was as if nighttime New York had turned on all its lights on the day of the festival, and the breadth of imagination prompts to erect huge buildings as high as possible far to heaven.
Maria : HEAD and HANDS need a mediator. THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN HEAD AND HANDS MUST BE THE HEART!
Under the ground, people who are part of the mechanism, routinely and monotonously, in tune with the whole movement, do their work. They and mechanisms - as if a whole.
After all, this is a city where life is in full swing, and even though it looks as if in a dream, in fact, it is the construction of any other city or society in it. But is that enough?
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Perhaps not, therefore the director feeds the viewer with his avant-garde, even slightly awkward shots, which reflect a veiled, albeit not so clearly slipping context. Bounces to the Bible, numerous coincidences with history and a weak border between reality and surrealism load METROPOLIS with clear calls to appeal to primary sources. Recall, re-read, and may not repeat the same mistakes, learn from the past and look only into the future. And do we really want to live in such a future, the future, under the sign of METROPOLIS?
The director skillfully was able to collect all the details, all the promises of the public. Even with the help of a silent movie, he managed to convey the cry of the soul, pain, and despair. True, the pleasure to create this ghostly but painfully close to the real world film was not cheap. The film became the most expensive in the era of silent films.
And now, after many years, the innovation of METROPOLIS is visible to the naked eye, and the fantastic vision began from this film still cannot reach its final point.
True, with his slightly pretentious ending, the director gives a direct answer to the question posed, and the oppressive state, piled up by each new frame of this film, instantly dissipates, and there is a pacification, picked up by a light breeze.
The film about robots: METROPOLIS - Photo credit: twitter
You will not forget some episodes when you see them once - panoramic views of the city, how the workers go from a shift, the chase of Mary in the catacombs, the dance of the Babylonian harlot, the phenomenon of death, and the seven deadly sins in the visions of Freder, and many more.
Like almost every outstanding work of art, the film awaited a difficult fate. If modern viewers need spectacle, then the twenties viewer was expecting a circus or dance performance from the cinema. And here there are two and a half hours of what will later be called a cyberpunk. Robots, the hulk of skyscrapers and incomprehensible gadgets.
As a result, the film was repeatedly recreated; the titers were rewritten. Director was dismissed from the process. Copies and clones scattered around the world, eventually becoming useless, aging and decaying. But the work that shaped the minds of many film fiction lovers can now be seen in a decent restored state, and this should be used.
METROPOLIS great film scenes - Video credit: youtube
I don’t know, maybe what I’ll write now will sound banal, but everything in this film is excellent. Look at the plot - the plot is great. Look at the directing - the directing is excellent. Look at the effects - they are awesome. Of course, the modern viewer, having seen this film, probably will not agree with me. What we have not seen? Spaceships, aliens, and flying people. In general, you know yourself. But all this is created with the help of computer effects. And all these magnificent models of space ships made of plastic and cardboard are a thing of the past. They are in the past, but they look great now.
They built the entire city in such a primitive way. Imagine! The layout of the whole city. How much effort was spent on its creation? In general, what can we say here, the work of Fritz Lang is above all praise. Shooting is a very strong side of this film. And the montage is all well secured.
A fully realized work of art whose influence on science fiction, set design and symbolism can scarcely be put into words.
On A Final Note
In any case, METROPOLIS will forever remain a cinematic masterpiece, the creation that gave art a new impetus in its further development. In this masterpiece of silent cinema, German expressionism is even more pronounced than in any other movie; it simply rolls over here. Moreover, this film can easily be called support for the birth of the genre of fiction in cinema; however, the movie itself can not be called pure fiction.
Be sure to take a look! This is an unprecedented power work of art. Many thoughts are born when viewing it: about the role of a leader in a crowd, about herd instincts, about wanting to find someone to blame for all troubles, about the structure of the state, about love and nobility.
I had a fear not to watch to end this movie when decided to watch it finally but watched it at one go. Everything was interesting: the silent performance with theatrical exaggerations, and the combined perspective shooting, and the plot itself. For example, until the end, I wondered what outcome the creators would choose - revolutionary or dictatorial. Peace and friendship won.
The First Artificial Intelligence Film In Cinematography: METROPOLIS - Photo credit: idideutsch304.blogspot
METROPOLIS is an alarming prediction, filled with neurosis and fear, an inferiority complex that responds in great ideas and grand scales. It's a look into yourself and into the future close up. It's a milestone for world cinema and a notch on the tree of humanity.
My rating: 10/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 99/100
Critics average: 92/100
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