Film Review - Metropolis


Release date - 1927
Director - Fritz Lang.
Genre - Science fiction, Silent film, Drama.

A film of which storytelling is mostly all visual and inter titles seem to be avoided, apart from cut away scenes that explain what else is happening due to key footage of the film being lost and this is only manageable due to referring to the novelisation of the story. A film full of overdramatic scenes and images that make no logical sense, an example being early on in the film "Freder has a vision in which the machinery turns into an obscene, devouring monster." (Roger Ebert, 2010) After which the machine is only a machine again and you are watching fellow workers pick up the injured and carry on with work once again.

A film of it's age is filled with brilliant camera angles, special effects and not to mention the huge set (Fig.2) and large amount of extras, which is said that they weren't treated like people more like props during the film being made. The special effects were the work of Eugen Schüfftan, he created a special effects technique that used mirrors to put actors into miniature sets, he done this first in metropolis, the technique proved popular through the first half of the 20th century until it was replaced by bluescreen "According to Magill's Survey of Cinema, his photographic system allowed people and miniature sets to be combined in a single shot, through the use of mirrors, rather than laboratory work." (Roger Ebert, 2010). One of the best examples is John's office, all of it was a brilliant interpretations of the future, with some form of Art Deco overlay with even computer displays and two way video conferencing which when you think about is outstanding for 1927.

The Laboratory of the films evil genius, Rotwang, has probably been the inspiration for all new mad scientists to this day, filled with random pipes and boiling jars, a now typical scene for a classic laboratory. In the film Rotwang makes another Maria and this is done in a strange sense by first placing here in a glass cylinder ( fig.3) surrounded by lights, obviously to add to the mad scientist look the jars of liquid are randomly boiling and lights are flashing, in the scene it starts to look like she is being scanned by these beams of light and almost like the image of her is being uploaded to the robot. This being said the fake Maria had a completely different personality which also affected her appearance, she could walk and talk to same but the look she gave was much more menacing "The artificial Maria, the "woman" who could walk and talk but possessed no soul, had queer drooping underlids to her eyes." (Mordaunt Hall, 2003)

Even though the film is almost two hours long the original release ran almost three hours, the studio at the time demanded that it was cut and cut again, the result of this lead to original scenes being lost this is now why we have inter titles to explain the lost scenes.

This film in an unforgettable piece of history and pure genius when it comes to camera angles and effects, films wouldn't be the same now if it wasn't for this.


Bibliography - 

Ebert, Roger. (2010) 'Metropolis (1927)'
In: http://www.rogerebert.com 28.03.1998 [Online]
At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-metropolis-1927 (Accessed on the 1.10.14)

Hall, Mordaunt. (2003) 'metropolis (1927) A technical marvel'
In: http://www.nytimes.com 21.05.2003 [Online]
At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A05E2D8143BE13ABC4F53DFB566838C639EDE

Illustration list - 

Figure 1. Archive 98 (1927) From: Metropolis. Directed By: Fritz Lang. [Film Still]
Germany: Paramount Pictures. At: http://www.comicbookbrain.com/_imagery/2012-05-01/metropolis-1926-poster-620.jpg. (Accessed on the 1.10.14)

Figure 2. Metropolis (1927) (1927) From: Metropolis. Directed By: Fritz Lang. [Film Still]
Germany: Paramount Pictures. At http://flickminute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Metropolis-_1927-Fritz-Lang-Masterpiece-_Flick-Minute.jpg. (Accessed 1.10.14)

Figure 3. Metropolis (1927) (1927) From: Metropolis. Directed By: Fritz Land. [Film Still]
Germany: Paramount Pictures. At:http://unaffiliatedcritic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Rotwangs-Laboratory.png. (Accessed on the 1.10.14)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Becky,
    A good discussion around the use of pioneering special effects!

    Have a look back at my previous comment about embedding your images within the text...it just makes it easier for your reader to visualise what you are talking about.

    Make sure that you italicise the quotes you use; it will also help your writing flow better if you introduce them. So for example, you could say,

    ' A film full of overdramatic scenes and images that make no logical sense, an example being early on in the film. As Roger Ebert says in his review, "Freder has a vision in which the machinery turns into an obscene, devouring monster." (Ebert, 2010)'

    You only need the author's surname and the date in the brackets after the quote, not the full name.