Originally posted November 9, 2010
The 1927 silent German film Metropolis had me spellbound the other night while watching a screening on the Turner Classic movie channel. Directed by maybe the best film director ever, Fritz Lang, almost every other scene in the movie is so well composed they could be used as framed pictures or paintings.
Although Metropolis is first and foremost a political film, it’s also a prelude to all the horror movies of the 40s-60s. Frankenstein would have been frightened by some of the scenes in Metropolis. Dracula’s blood would run cold. There is a scene with The Angel of Death holding the razor sharp sickle that could be the scariest clip of all time. Don’t believe me, see for yourself. The Sci-Fi aspect of the movie is so cutting-edge prophetic that there’s a scene showing two guys using (what would later become) a video-phone type interface system in a two-way, face-to-face, live conversation; This is in 1927, before talking movies were mainstream.
I’m posting this so I won’t ever forget it.
“Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by Universum Film A.G. (UFA). The most expensive silent film ever made, it cost approximately 5 million Reichsmark.” read more from WIKI
“The film is set in the massive, sprawling futuristic mega-city Metropolis, whose society is divided into two classes: one of planners and management, who live high above the Earth in luxurious skyscrapers; and one of workers, who live and toil underground. The city was founded, built, and is run by the autocratic Joh Fredersen.”
“Like all the other sons of the managers of Metropolis, Fredersen’s son Freder lives a life of luxury in the theatres and stadiums of the skyscraper buildings. One day, as he is playing in the Eternal Gardens, he notices that a beautiful girl has appeared with many children of the workers. She is quickly shooed away, but Freder becomes infatuated with her and follows her down to the workers’ underworld. There, he experiences firsthand the horrors of the workers’ life, and is horrified and disgusted when he sees an enormous machine, known as the M-Machine, violently explode and kill dozens of workers. In the smoke, Freder envisions the M-Machine as Moloch, a monstrous deity to which the hapless workers are sacrificed.
Disgusted, Freder returns to the New Tower of Babel, a massive skyscraper owned by his father. There, he confronts his father and starts crying about the accident at the M-Machine, but Fredersen is more annoyed about hearing about the accident from his son and not from his clerk Josephat. Grot, foreman of the Heart Machine, informs him of papers resembling plans or maps, which have been found in the dead workers’ pockets. Again, because he had not heard the news from Josephat first, Fredersen fires him, and also charges his spy, a slim man, to keep an eye on his son.” read more from WIKI
“On July 1, 2008, film experts in Berlin announced that a 16 mm reduction negative of the original premiere cut of the film, including almost all the lost scenes, had been discovered in the archives of the Museo del Cine (film museum) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The find was authenticated by film experts working for Die Zeit. Passed around since 1928 from film distributor to private collector to an art foundation, the Metropolis copy arrived at the Museo del Cine, where it stayed undiscovered in their archives. After hearing an anecdote by the cinema club manager — who years before had been surprised by the length when this copy was screened — the museum’s curator and the director of the film department of the Museum of Latin American Art reviewed the film and discovered the missing scenes. The print was in poor condition and required considerable restoration before it was re-premiered in February 2010.” readmore from WIKI
If there is a down-side it would be that there are some very long scenes in the last third of the movie.
I’m going to throw out a few phrases here just for the hell of it: THIS IS THE MOTHERLOAD; THIS IS THE GENESIS OF HORROR FILMS; THIS IS THE GENESIS OF SCIENCE FICTION FILMS; This film is the original pattern from which many motion pictures were cut. -carbone