Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang’s vision of the future jumps light-years beyond its time that it’s hard to believe that this masterpiece was made in the 1920’s! Audiences have to pinch themselves that they are watching a film that is over 80 years old. It is easy to get swept away by the dazzling visual beauty in this whole new world that easily competes with the standards of today’s modern science fiction movies.  

 “Technically groundbreaking at the time, with its mixing of models with live-action, it is still impressive today.”
The vision is captured through the carefully thought out constructed sets mixed with inspiring detailed paintings with scaled miniatures of cities reaching for the sky creating a sense of depth. The painted backdrops allow the audience to build an overall sense of the scale of the city and how much depth Fritz Lang’s vision entails.The theatrical special effects bring the sets alive creating atmosphere filled with visual energy. Its dynamic and aesthetic artistry has shaped the vision of science fiction today the proof of this is by looking at the screenshots of the film and still accepting it as a science fiction master piece. However some critics comment on the costume design because everything else in the film seems futuristic but the clothing remains dated in the 1920's.

Built set of the city of Metropolis

"The name 'metropolis' comes from the Greeks and means mother-city. It has this significance because a metropolis is the biggest form of a technologically and economically developed city. Nevertheless, referring to the movie name, this film can be considered as the mother city of all cinematic clichés.”

The dramatic sets are brought to life by the use of smoke machines and pyrotechnics creating atmosphere that brings realism and depth to the scenes particularly used in the workers city. The factory scenes are done with a theatrical expression that reflects the mechanical, gear like movements of the machines working choreographed like a dance in time with the musical score.The whole movement of the working class seems monotonous, from the organised marching to working on the machines which shows the strain of the works and there inability to think for themselves. Movement later in the film becomes more free flowing when the revolution beings  which contrasts with the earlier scenes in the movie. 
"Metropolis" is a fantastic futuristic view of the fight of classes. When "Metropolis" was shot, it was a romantic revolutionary period of mankind history, with socialist movements around the world. Fritz Lang directed and wrote the screenplay of this masterpiece certainly inspired in this historical moment and defending a position of agreement and understanding between both sides, showing that they need each other.” The films themes of revolution and fight for freedom are certainly as inspiring as the scenery which certainly has an impact being acted out with a cast of 6 thousand extras forming the working class. The revolution is lead by the saint like figure Maria who is surrounded by religious iconography of crosses and candles who the workers look up to as a godly figure all dressed in white amongst the workers in black.


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