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How ideal to wacth and review Metropolis the day after an election; a movie that depicts the effects of overlooking the working class and how the people can be convinced of non-truths strictly because they have a leader that they blindly put their faith in. Sound a little familiar? The movie was originally created in Germany during the uprising of the Nazi political movement and at face value portrays the evils of the mechanical revolution. However, if one digs deeper a few different plots arise. For those not familiar with Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, the official summary is a good starting point:
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
Considered by almost all film historians to be the pioneering movie of the Sci-fi genre, Metropolis is a blank and white, “silent movie.” Unfortunately due to age and the fact that the movie was created during the rise of Nazi Germany, there are no surviving copies of the entire film. Rather pieces of the film have been remastered and put together to complete the vast majority of the movie to it’s original state. Even with some scenes missing (a black screen with the script description is displayed to give the viewer the whole story) one can see the power and imagination of the movie. Often thought of as a propaganda movie to promote “single state” mentality to the masses, one can actually pick up on a rather interesting subplot – if you do not think critically, you can be tricked/controlled by your own enemy. It actually is a great description of exactly what the rise of the Nazi party did to the German population and can be said of the current state of American’s following a mob of like-minded individuals without stopping to develop their own thoughts.
As a former architecture student and art history buff, the images of the movie are amazing. Many of the scenes start with picturesque landscapes of a future city with flying machines and art deco buildings similar to the future city sketches by Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe. The idea of a working class below the city while the elites live and play on the surface actually came to be with the city plan for Chicago (albeit as the levels relate to vehicles and not so much for people). The idea of the city being developed for the people yet taxing the population just to keep it going also reflects the current argument for the sustainability movement.
As a bit of warning however, this movie is old. Very old. As such the special effects are cheesy, the acting is rather pitiful by today’s elements and as it is a silent movie, there is no script or dialogue. You have to use your imagination to truly love this movie. That is in fact another reason why I like it. The movie is more like ready a book. You et to fill in the gaps to make the story more relatable to you. However if you like anything by Michael Bay or are hoping to sit back and and be wowed, you may be disappointed.
Movies that I am reminded of when watching Metropolis but are not really related to the plot or genre at all: