film is far-reaching in its style, lighting,
cinematography and even the first instances of montage. The film was a
huge technological achievement, way ahead of its time - ironic
considering it imagines a world light years removed from the day it was
is a privatised city state, run by the flinty-hearted
techno-industrial autocrat Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel). While the
privileged playboys and playgirls disport themselves in nightclubs,
airy sports stadia and heavenly gardens, a lovely young woman, Maria
(Brigitte Helm), takes up the cause of the oppressed machine workers
toiling underground, in so doing entrancing Fredersen's idealist son
Freder (Gustav Fröhlich). But Joh has a bizarre secret weapon: the
Robot, a post-human ideal fashioned as a metallic archetype based on
his late wife, which assumes Maria's form as an evil twin to provoke
cataclysmic disorder, under cover of which the Workers can be crushed.
The performances are eccentric and hysterical as befitting silent film;
but in a way this behaviour is indicative of the changes in people as
the 20th century progressed, sometimes the world moves too fast for
some people. But there are hints at things to come from a
cinematic standpoint - influences can be seen in Bergman, Scott
(Ridley), Gilliam and even the most important influence was on Leni
Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda films (e.g. Triumph of the Will).
The additions of missing footage, adds nothing new; much has been made
about special editions and adding on scenes, textually it adds nothing
to the story of the film, cinematically it makes the film longer.
But it is a pleasure to see this film again on the big screen, with a
fine score - futuristic but entrusted to the works of the past, gothic
and otherworldy at the same time, operatic in its sprawl. It can
be considered to be the first film that created its own myth. Due to
the Nazi uprising, the film remained unseen for years and
Lang fled to America.
When Lang arrived, soon Hollywood used his method of female brides in
'The Bride of Frankenstein' (1935), ultimately coming to a crescendo
with the replicants of 'Blade Runner' - ironically a film that itself
has gone through many special editions.
Considering it did not have digital effects back in 1927, the effect is
the grab it has on your imagination - you have to have a sense of
disbelief at the other world you are witnessing.
METROPOLIS will be released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of the Masters
of Cinema Series in the Autumn of 2010.