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Metropolis (1927) Essay (Movie Review)


Introduction

Metropolis (1927) is a silent cinema, which is a prophetic (somewhat dramatic) science-fiction film produced in Germany by the Universal Film AG (UFA) at the height of the Weimar republic. Directed by Fritz Lang, produced by Erich Pommer and starring Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel and Gustav Fröhlich, the movie is considered to be the first of its kind, that is, of a science-fiction genre. It opened the door to a fictional world, influencing other fictional films such as Star Wars and Forbidden Planet.

It is set in a futuristic city predicting the effects of technology and rapid industrialization (Minden & Bachmann, 2002). Considered to be the biggest budgeted movie ever produced by UFA who found it hard to recoup its costs, the film revolves around a preacher/prophet named Maria (Brigitte Helm), who foresees the coming of a savior/mediator, and her love interest, Freder (Gustav Froehlich): the son of the city’s mastermind, Jon Fredersen (Alfred Abel).

Main Body

Maria and Freder meet at the eternal gardens, where Freder spends most of his time. Freder is amazed by her talk about togetherness and decides to follow her to the depths of Metropolis. On his way, he sees a horrific accident in the machine halls where workers work in despair.

He confronts his father about it but is turned away on the notion that the workers deserved it. Freder, interested in the plight of the workers, is determined to do something but needs to track Maria first to learn more.

This sudden interest forces Fredersen to hire an investigator to follow Freder. In the meantime, Fredersen witnesses Maria preaching patience in the hope that a savior who will reconcile the ruling and the working classes will emerge among them. Fredersen does everything in his power to destroy Maria and break the resistance.

He orders the making of a robot of Maria replica, which he would use to motivate the workers to violence so that he can apply force to them. To make this happen, he kidnaps Maria. Fredersen has a bigger plan to destroy the city. Fredersen is at odds with his son who sees himself as the savior and believes in Maria’s teachings. Metropolis is on the verge of total destruction as crowds hunt for Maria and her evil replica, and workers attempt to kill Freder and destroy the city’s generator driven by rage.

Maria escapes to the workers’ city, which is now flooding with children left behind by the workers. The children were saved by Maria and Freder. The Maria double is burned revealing the machine. At the end, Freder acting as a mediator secures a truce between Fredersen and the workers.

The film premiered on January 10, 1927 in Berlin and was greeted with a strong attendance. The audience was blown away by the spectacular scenes and showered Lang and Helm with flowers at the end of the film. However, criticisms of the film were echoed around the world, especially from one of its inspirations, H.G. Wells who describes Metropolis as the silliest film ever.

Conclusion

Metropolis represents an important and crucial point in film history. Studies suggest that Metropolis consolidates to what silent cinema was about. Over forty copies were made for the premier in 1927 and not even one exists. Various versions (with missing parts-about a third of the original piece) of the Metropolis have been released with the 1997 edited American edition declared as standard for both domestic and oversee.

In 2002, a restoration of the film was made to a 127 minute running time from lost footage. The latest restoration was in 2008, with the discovery of a lost footage from the 153-minute version. Though branded as the silliest film ever made, Metropolis is considered by many as one of the greatest movies of all time.

Reference

Minden, M., & Bachmann, H. (2002). Fritz Lang’s Metropolis: Cinematic Visions of Technology and Fear. Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture. New York, NY: Camden House.

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IvyPanda. "Metropolis (1927)." October 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/metropolis-1927/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Metropolis (1927)." October 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/metropolis-1927/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Metropolis (1927)'. 16 October.

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