Metropolis: The Future According to People From the 1920’s

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This was my first silent film ever, and I quite enjoyed the experience, mainly because the actors have to exaggerate so much, and that is very entertaining. Especially when the main actress thought that groping her own breasts was the best way to denote distress. And I’m pretty sure I saw characters grab their heads in despair every two minutes. But most astonishingly, the look of the main character gives proof that Johnny Depp is immortal. I knew he was a little off. I bet it had something to do with Helena Bonham Carter.

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Metropolis comes all the way from 1927 Germany, and is directed by Fritz Lang. It is a sci-fi dystopian film about a futuristic city in which the rich live in sky scrapers while the poor live and work underground. Privileged Freder (Gustave Frolich) decides to join the workers underground. He meats the beautiful Maria (Brigette Helm) who preaches peace to the workers and tells them to wait for the mediator who will unite the hands (the workers) and the brains (the rich). However, the mad scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) creates an evil robot woman who looks exactly like Maria, and watches as chaos ensues.

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I enjoyed watching this movie. As my first silent film, it was a very interesting experience. And I feel Metropolis was very ahead of its time. But if you forget the beautiful cityscape and special effects (in context of the time) I do have a few complaints about the story. It was quite simplistic, and the characters extremely flat. Freder, the hero, only goes underground because he sees Maria and thinks “Boobs! I must follow!” Then he sees the workers and suddenly becomes the legendary mediator. That is an important transformation that is not very well established.

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Even worse, the audience is not told at all who Maria is. You first meet her when she’s preaching in a cathedral, so you can only guess she’s an important religious figure. But the film doesn’t even try to provide a background for her, or establish motivation for her actions. But I forget. This movie came from the 20’s, when women weren’t important.

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And even Rotwang, the mad scientist character is just a flat cut out. He wants to make Metropolis fall, but we are never told why.

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Despite all these problems, I think Metropolis is still worth seeing. Especially if you’ve never seen a silent movie before. It’s a very interesting experience. Taking into account this movie’s story limitations but also it’s very innovative artistic appeal, I give this movie a 4 out of 10.

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5 thoughts on “Metropolis: The Future According to People From the 1920’s

  1. I feel like some of this could be said for Soylent Green as well. Both of these are SciFi cult classics but both have plot holes, flat characters and faults once you actually watch them.

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