Sunday, 4 October 2015

'Metropolis' The Hidden Side of the Story. Review 29/09/2015

Fig 1'Metropolis' Film Poster
Metropolis Film Link


The film 'Metropolis' is a silent film released in 1927 made by 'Fritz Lang'. 'Metropolis' was one of the films that set the standard for not only all science fiction films  but the standard for all special effects in films. The film was made only 7 (Seven) years after 'Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari', and you can see how much of an effect the film had on later films. The methods, scope and scale for the film were huge, but unfortunately parts of the film were lost (Most of these scenes consisting of the 'Thin Man' (Fritz Rasp)) and were replaced with text on a black screen. There has been a updated version of the film with more lost footage but this review focuses on the film without the added footage.

Fig 2 City Backdrop

There were lots of special effects in the film but one of the most iconic is the main shot of the city. Not only does it have a huge symbolic reference but the technical design behind it was genius. Using basic building materials people constructed a miniature version of the city, think of it like a small doll's house except much larger, there was also a large amount of symbolism behind the main tower, in the film there is a story told by 'Maria' (Brigitte Helm) called the 'The Tower of Babel' . The story behind 'The Tower of Babel' is about how Man attempted to build a tower so high that it would be able to reach the heavens henceforth the meaning of the word 'Babel' meaning 'Gate of God'.

Quote 1
"The workers in Metropolis are not to rebel or do anything for themselves, she teaches, because they may rely on the vindictiveness of Heaven." (H.G. Wells, 1927)

The reason humanity wanted to build a tower that high is so that they could admire how self sufficient they had become and bask in their self glory. However god was not pleased with this and gave the builders different languages so they could not understand one another. So because man attempted to rise up they were punished, could we not say the same with the film? As the workers attempt to rise up they are punished by the machines for their treason because they wanted something better.

Fig 3 'Robot Maria' Dancing Scene

When we were first introduced to 'Maria' (Brigitte Helm) she was portrayed as a saint, someone pure, innocent, with no means for harm. When her robot double is created she has quite the opposite impression on the audience. She seems vile, odd, evil, at one point she is even called a "Witch!" being the complete opposite of Maria. When at first the men do not realise the difference between the robot and Maria they follow her every command without even giving a second thought, they are not only fooled by the appearance but she also has their trust, Maria had never betrayed their trust before so why would she now? Then there are the scenes where the Robot Maria is performing before the rich people and 'Freder' (Gustav Fröhlich), Robot Maria is described by 'Freder' as the "Whore of Babylon". The Whore of Babylon (Babylon the Great, Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth) is a figure of evil in the Christian bible, now in the scene where Freder is hallucinating you can clearly tell that there was some research into how they wanted to depict Robot Maria and if you notice in the scene where she seduces all of the rich men you will see all of the eyes locked on her, licking of lips, lusty behaviour, the men even start fighting between each other, ensuing chaos, violence and disarray. Robot Maria is the visual and physical representation, of the seven deadly sins and Babylon.

Fig 4 Men going to work

Fig 5 The Machine Consuming the Workers

In the film there is a large amount of symbolism you can spot straight away, humanity worships their own god (The Machines) and if they either mess up a task or do not do their bidding (maintenance) then there will be consequences. Near the beginning of the film something happens to the machine and things start going wrong, turning the men into machines, but not gods.

Quote 2
"Fredersen’s city is designed to malnourish its inhabitants. The workers’ city is strictly utilitarian, its streets completely deserted with no signs of life save for when the grunts trudge home from work." (Abrams 2010)

Not only are a bunch of worker hurt in the process, but in order to fix the problem they need to sacrifice themselves to the machines, like some god require human sacrifices in order to keep them content. However when the Robot is built it turns on them, now this is due to 'Rotwang' (Rudolph Klien-Rogge) giving the order to the robot to follow 'Jon Fredersens' (Alfred Afel) orders. But as a result of Jon's orders he ends up making a version of Babylon. The machine tries punishes the humans by killing their children, this fails but reinforces this point.

Quote 3
"Rotwang is himself such a prototype, and his bringing the robot to life is a model that recurs throughout other sci-fi and horror films, and surely Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove, with his mechanical right hand, is a nod to Rotwang, as well." (S.Leftridge, 2015)

It is possible that the whole reason that the whole reason that the film started is unfortunate sequence of events was because 'Rotwang' became indoctrinated by the machines, henceforth why his had has been replaced.

Sources

Illustration List

Fig 1, 'Metropolis' Poster

Fig 2, 'Metropolis' City Backdrop

Fig 3, 'Metropolis' Robot Maria Dancing Scene

Fig 4, 'Metropolis' Workers Scene

Fig 5, 'Metropolis' Machine consuming the workers scene


Biblography

Quote 1:
(H.G. Wells, 1927)

Quote 2:
(Abrams, 2010)

Quote 3:
(S.Leftridge, 2015)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Thomas,

    Another very interesting review, well done :)

    When using quotes, you should embed them as part of your writing, rather than keeping them as separate entities... you need to introduce them and then 'unpick' them, in support of your discussion. So, for example you could say something like,

    'As Simon Abrams notes in his review, "Fredersen’s city is designed to malnourish its inhabitants. The workers’ city is strictly utilitarian, its streets completely deserted with no signs of life save for when the grunts trudge home from work." (Abrams 2010) From this it becomes clear that...blah blah...'


    Your last sentence needs a little edit to make it make sense :) 'It is possible that the whole reason that the whole reason that the film started is unfortunate sequence of events was because 'Rotwang' became indoctrinated by the machines, henceforth why his had has been replaced.'

    You are almost there with the bibliography and illustrations list, but there are still some elements missing - have another quick look at the guide.




    ReplyDelete