Thursday, January 27, 2011

Metropolis

Fritz Lang, Germany, 1927, silent, bw (7.8*)
[Restored version]
Of course this looks pretty dated now, but when Fritz Lang created his science fiction masterpiece, there were no films as experimental or as striking an individual vision in the history of cinema up to that point. This version has some lost footage restored that was found in 2008 in a film warehouse in Argentina, who didn't return the print when WW2 broke out in Europe, so this is the most complete version available since it's release as all the other copies were destroyed by Allied air raids.

This story is from a novel by Thea von Harbou, who also wrote the screenplay. The heavily symbolic story involves a society where the wealthy live in a club above ground that resembles heaven, while the workers live and work underground in repetitive drudgery running giant machines. Lang's entire film is an indictment of a mechanized world usurping human individuality and choice, where there is no escape from the 'worker's hell' underground.

One particular woman, an angel named Maria, is a voice against the system who incites the workers to stand up. Meanwhile, the head capitalist has an inventor with a female robot he calls "Machine Man", who gets used in a political scheme to destroy Maria and a mysterious coming 'mediator', who can unite the two factions.

A lot of this story is pretty corny ("the head and the hands need a heart to unite them"), yet you can see that it influenced later films like Chaplin's Modern Times, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and even the dark mood of Gotham City in the Batman films. In fact, it was decades before sf films even had this much vision again.

This is a must for fans of German expressionism, it's probably the finest example of that movement. It's #96 on the IMDB top 250 films, which is probably a bit high, but you can see its influence in cinema history.

One of the first recipients of  our World Film Awards, as we awarded 15 silents films first.

1 comments:

free direct movie download November 9, 2012 at 3:14 AM  

I like Metropolis movie because i love science fiction movies........... and the post is so nice and worth readable......

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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