Wednesday, October 14, 2009

30. Metropolis (1927)

Running Time: 114 minutes
Directed By: Fritz Lang
Written By: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Main Cast: Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Brigitte Helm

Sidenote: So I sat down on Sunday night to check out what many consider the greatest silent film of all time, Metropolis. After a bout of sneezing and coughing and basically thinking I was coming down with a cold, I succumbed to the warmth of my bed after only making it through about an hour of the picture. The next night, I gave it a second shot, but after waking up at eight o'clock for work, and not attempting my second shot until about eleven o'clock, I again, succumbed to my bed, with a still unfinished Metropolis. So tonight was the night, and the third time was the charm as I knocked it off and came one step closer to completing my journey.
Now then...


First of all I want to say that I really, really wanted to enjoy this movie. Unfortunately, on an enjoyability scale, I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

Set in the future, the population is broken down into two societies, the workers and the upper class. The workers occupy the underground, in their own city and the upper class live in the grand, gorgeous city of Metropolis. The workers keep the city running, by manning machines underground that power the great city.
Freder, spoiled son of Joh Fredersen, the master of Metropolis, is frolicking in the Eternal Gardens one day with his many lady friends, when a woman appears, with a group of children saying, "Look, these are your brothers!", which deeply touches Freder. When the woman is ushered off by some hired hands, Freder, fascinated with the woman, goes in search of her. He ends up in the underground, where he witnesses the terrible life that the workers go through to keep the machines running, that power Metropolis.

Freder, disturbed by the treatment that he's seen the workers endure, runs back to the New Tower of Babel, where his father's offices are, and begins to question his father about the welfare of the workers. His father exclaims that the workers are where they the depths. Freder snaps back, bringing up the question of what would happen if the workers were ever to rise up and revolt against his father. Fredersen is interrupted by Grot, the chief foreman of the Heart Machine, the main power source of Metropolis, who shows Fredersen plans that he found on some of his workers, that seem to lead to somewhere.

In the meanwhile, Freder leaves and heads into the underground again, relieving a collapsed worker, of his post and taking over, as he feels sorry for the tired man. The worker is only known as 11811, and Freder tells him to leave the underground, get into his chauffeured car and head to the home of a colleague of Freder's.

Joh Fredersen, meanwhile, goes to the home of Rotwang, the master inventor of Metropolis, who unveils to Fredersen a female robot that he's created to replace his lost love. He claims that he only needs twenty four hours and the robot will be finished, and be created to look exactly like a human being. Fredersen also shows Rotwang the plans that we're brought to him earlier by Grot and Rotwang concludes that they are some type of map to the catacombs, the depths of the workers city. Rotwang leads Fredersen on a hidden path, underneath his home, to the catacombs.

Freder, finishes his ten hour shift and follows the workers into the catacombs, where they are holding secret underground meeting and being preached to by a pacifist by the name of Maria, the same woman who appeared to Freder in the beginning of the film. She preaches to them about peace and declares that someday a mediator will come, who will be able to help the hands (the workers) and the head (Joh Fredersen) unite in peace. After the meeting, Freder meets privately with Maria, and Maria sees Freder as the heart (the mediator) and rejoices at his presence.

The films finale comes when Rotwang finishes the femme bot and creates her in Maria's likeness, as ordered by Fredersen. He unleashes her on the underground workers and thinking that it's Maria, the workers hang on her every word, when she tells them to riot and kill the machines, thus killing Metropolis.

Visually this movie is a spectacle to behold. The sets are immaculate, some of the shots are innovative and some of the scenes that you'll see just make you go "WOW!". The scene of the workers burning the femme bot at the stake, the scenes of the camera swooping over the great city and the scene of the creation of the original Tower of Babel are all excellent and this film is a must see for the visual effects alone. As far as the enjoyment factor goes, this film lacks and maybe it's a case of "it just wasn't for me". In the parts of this movie, where there wasn't immaculate images on the screen to look at, I found myself very bored and for a movie that was less than two hours it felt a lot longer than that, in some parts. I don't know, it's just that something with this movie and me didn't click and although I really can't put my finger on why, I just didn't enjoy it that much.

RATING: 5/10 If I was rating this movie on a visual scale, I'd give it an eleven, but I'm rating them on a scale of how much I enjoyed them, so in that case we'll strike it right down the middle and call it a five.

NEXT UP: Sunrise...F.W. Murnau directs another film that is considered one of the great silent films. Comes tomorrow from Netflix!

October 14, 2009 12:54am

1 comment:

  1. Sounds pretty good to me, I may have to check it out sometime in the future.


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