Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Metropolis (1927) Review

Metropolis Film Cover
Metropolis is a German Expressionistic sci- fi, drama, action silent film made in 1927, directed by Fritz Lang the film focuses on the differences of working class status with low working class people living and working below the earth’s surface and the highly rich people working on top.

The film’s storyline begins with the son of the Master of Metropolis begins to fall in love with a maiden social worker, which he flows her into the depths a religious meeting area below the earth’s surface deep underground. Knowing this, the maiden begins to predict the coming of a savior to mediate the differences of upper and lower class men with a seductive female robot set loose to wreck havoc.

There are many different camera techniques and angles used, with some unexpected POV shots like the hand reaching out for the cloth that’s stuck on the door, amateur like handheld movements as well as tracking , panning and static shots were used.  Though editing wise, the film contains many CU shots for expressions and some ranges of medium and long shots used. For a sci fi effect, bright lights and neon tubing were used along with flashes added. Orchestrated music was used to exaggerate the calamity and chaos that was going on around the metropolis, especially the clashing of the cymbals for the flooding over metropolis.
The machine-run city setting for Metropolis
In the film, the workers are portrayed as lower class men working below the earth’s surface on the machines with the rich living on top. This is one of the important elements of this film which according to Kenneth Turan, “the film of huge ambition took on such big themes as the nature of capital and labor and the ease of mass manipulation, filtered them through a personal story of a young couple in love.” (Turan, 2010) This also reveals the director’s intentions-like the scene where Freder complains about the chaos that went on down in the mines, his father replies that accidents are unavoidable even though Freder insists that the workers should be rewarded for their credit for building the city. Because of this, the workers rise to the surface to gain what they’ve deserved, as described by Michael DeZubiria,  This is the kind of content that foreshadows some serious mutiny, and at the same time it shows what may very well happen when large groups of people feel mistreated. ‘Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups' is a saying that doesn't necessarily only apply to stupid people, as Metropolis suggests.” (DeZubiria, 2001).
How Metropolis (bottom) buildings influenced Bladerunner (top)
The setting for the film is run in a machine city, making it industrial futuristic & with its factory tops set amongst majestic like buildings with domes on top. In particular, the pyramid shaped building near the beginning of the film, is heavily influenced to become one of the main buildings used in Bladerunner set also in the future. The idea of “being god and creations wrecking havoc” has also influenced the film, “Bride of Frankenstein”Stars Wars” (the settings and the robot which resembles to C3-PO) among others.  However, the film was the most expensive European film made, with the budget of 310 shooting days and 36,000 extras.
The saint-like Maria (left) and the fake-robotic Maria (right)
The film also includes the idea of having faith for people, using Maria as a saint- like prophetess of which people adore her and follows her ways. Though when the fake robotic Maria enters the world, it represents the seven deadly sins as this fake Maria becomes seductive on men as well as doing opposite actions from the real pure Maria.  The "Maschinenmensch" robot based on Maria is a brilliant eroticization and fetishisation of modern technology and the current crisis in Dubai, whose economic boom was founded on a colossal import of globalised labor, makes Metropolis seem very contemporary.” (Bradshaw, 2010)

List of Illustrations:

Lang, F (1927) Metropolis Film Cover (online):
Greco, J (2010) The machine-run city setting for Metropolis (online):– (accessed on 27/10/11)

Gaalen, S.V (2010) How Metropolis (bottom) buildings influenced Bladerunner (Top) (online):– (accessed on 27/10/11)

Stephens, I (2010) The saint-like Maria (left) and the fake- robotic Maria (right) (online): – (accessed on 27/10/11)


DeZubiria, M. (2001) Early science fiction story that presents a pessimistic prediction of a future society (online): – (accessed on 27/10/11)

Turan, K (2010) MOVIE REVIEW: “Metropolis” (online):
Bradshaw, P (2010) Metropolis (online):

1 comment :

  1. Hello Jo,

    Few things here...

    "portrayed as lower life class men"

    remove life - its not needed

    "machines with the rich living on top is"

    put a full stop after top then add "This"

    "workers should be deserved for their credit"

    shouldnt deserved be rewarded?

    change this to: "workers should be rewarded for building the city"

    "The setting for the film is in a machine run city"

    just a rejiggle here - "the setting for the film is ran in a machine city"

    "industrial futuristic"

    just add an &

    “Stars Ward”

    isnt that star wars?

    "prophetess which people adores her"

    add an "of" infront of "which" remove the "s" from "adores"

    Other then that awsome stuff :)
    GJ JOE