Sunday, 6 November 2011

Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang

Fig 1. Metropolis Cover

Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang (1927) is a silent sci-fi film. The film is all about the upper and lower class people who live in the metropolis.

The first character we are introduced to is the main character Freder (Gustav Fröhlich) who is shown in a very pleasant garden with many women to entertain him. He sees Maria (Brigitte Helm) come to the surface with the slave workers children. He clearly shows emotions towards her, he follows her down and is horrified by the conditions in which the slaves work. He confronts his father Joh Ferderson (Alfred Abel) the founder or of the metropolis who is fully aware of the workers. Freder wants to join the workers and help them have a better life, when Joh finds out about Maria and Freder.  He enlists the help of the scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) who creates the Machine Man which resembles the appearance of Maria to disrupt the rebellion and wreak havoc.

Fig 2. Freder in the garden

This film is the father of all modern sci-fi films, it revolutionised cinema back in the 20’s with its grand set designs, amazing special effects, “The special effects are able to create the futuristic cityscape that practically defined how the sci-fi cityscape looked for years to come” (Ewing 2011) and it really was the Avatar of its time.  “Generally considered the first great science-fiction film” (Ebert 1998). This was a big factor to the success of the film. The film had massive sets which helped portray the immense scale of the city, when the water floods the lower workers city the set it huge with lots of people running from the buildings that run all around the set. Also when Rotwang activates the Machine Man the special effects in that scene are incredible for the time the film was made. This really influences the fact that this film is set in the future with sophisticated technology.

Fig 3. The Heart Machine

This film has symbolism which can be seen from Fritz Lang’s German expressionistic influence. When Freder Goes below and see the workers struggling to keep the machine working which then explodes and kills a few workers. “He witnesses the massive machines the belch forth smoke and flames and the workers who are employed to keep the machine running, lest it explode in their faces. The work is relentless, the men strain to keep up” (Jerry N/A) He sees the machine transform into a monster which consumes the workers and just as they get pulled away more just replace them. Also the characters have exaggerated movements to really show the viewers what they were feeling. When the workers leave the machines below they walk out slowly with heads dropped to show how exhausted and sad they are. The Machine Man in particular uses very exaggerated movements to emphasize it as a character.

Illustration List

Lang, F. (1927) Figure 1. Metropolis Cover (Online) (Accessed on 05/11/11)

Lang, F (1927) Figure 1. Freder in the garden (Online) (Accessed on 05/11/11)

Lanf, F. (1927) Firgure 3. The Heart Machine (Online) (Accessed on 05/11/11)


James Blake Ewing. (2011) Cinema Sights (online) (Accessed on 05/11/11)

Roger Ebert. (1998) Chicago Times (online) (Accessed on 05/1/11)

Jerry. (N/A) Armchair Oscars (Accessed on 05/11/11)

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