Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Unit 2: Space - Review - Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927)

Figure 1. Metropolis (1927) Poster Art

A film based on the embodiment of Christian Religious Ideals as opposed to aesthetic Marxism. Biblical references force one to consider a “messiah” an infamous “mediator” to connect the bridge between the working hands and the domineering minds. Dictatorship see’s scientism as its deity while the worker ants flock to a pure and quaint Apostle, freeing them from their physical restrictions albeit briefly to proclaim a world above the clouds.

•Directed by: Fritz Lang
•Written by: Thea Von Harbou (Screenplay) August Scherl Verlag G.m.b.H (Novel)
•Cast: Alfred Abel as Joh Fredersen, Gustav Frohlich as Freder, Joh Fredersen's Son, Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Rotwang, the inventor, Fritz Rasp as The Thin Man, Theodor Loos as Josaphat & Rudolf Lettinger, Erwin Biswanger as 11811, Heinrich George as Grot, the guardian of the Heart Machine & Brigitte Helm as Maria
•Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Classics,
Science Fiction & Fantasy
•Duration: 153 Minutes (aprox)

Figure 2. "Look! these are you brothers! Look!"

The story unfolds as Freder the son of industrial mogul Joh Fredersen follows an angelic disciple to the netherworld which in turn illustrates a problem with the proverbial cogs in the machine. It is not long before the pure vibrancy of Maria is replaced by an elaborate mark of evil scientism created by mad scientist Rotwang. A robot Instructed to defy & destroy, acting as an antichrist of sorts proclaiming multiple forms of corruption but succinctly known as the “Machine Man” which systematically attempts to undo the Apostles majesty of good will & in turn diminish her flock of believers. In a more violent twist the flock is encouraged to rebel ushering in a call of arms with acts of apocalyptic literature namely – “the Book of Revelations".

“Strong biblical tones underpin Metropolis throughout. Its vision of humanity’s downfall borrows directly from the Book of Revelations, yet carries a Marxist message throughout. Consider that one is a spiritual vision and the other a humanist mantra – the film gladly takes both without losing any cohesion in its own message.” (Jammathon: 2011)

Figure 3. ""I want you to visit those in the depths, in order to destroy the work of the woman in whose image you were created!”"

In terms of set design the film is a marvel showing an industrialist vision of an ancient roman society with a class structured divide of levels and layers with iconic and archaic majesty. The upper world features a dominant architectural spectacle with a rather desolate lack of understanding of humanity or failure. The lower world features a sunless subterranean repertoire of endless manual labour shrouded in a cloud of ejected steam or smog.

“Set in a future city where a sliver of gilded society lives atop a mountain of subterranean labour, ‘Metropolis’ sends the city leader’s son on an odyssey to the depths in pursuit of saintly workers’ advocate Maria.” (Walters: 2010)

Figure 4. "Maria speaks of peace, not killing! This is not Maria!!"

Metropolis was filmed at a time of hardships following namely the first world war which was rife with conflict & dissatisfaction with German political powers. Director Fritz Lang wanted to convey this concern on a higher level that would illustrate the feelings of the Majority and Minority through symbolism. One could argue that it was Fritz Lang himself that wanted to act as a real life “mediator” of sorts communicating the message of the lower class to the pinnacle of the upper class.

“For Lang to make a realist film that dealt directly with the troubles of the day would not have pleased German audiences. Instead, he tapped into Germany’s power struggles, issues of poverty and conflict, and fears for the future, using an entirely constructed and heavily stylised futuristic landscape filled with symbolism and metaphors to convey political messages.” (Film Education: 2010)

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Metropolis Poster Art. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on:09/11/11)

Figure 2. Look! these are you brothers! Look! (com) [Online image]. At:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Y32nBaee2kw/TN8QXVhDyHI/AAAAAAAABMk/1wLSKL7wp_M/s1600/metropolis05-thumb.jpg (Accessed on:09/11/11)

Figure 3. I want you to visit those in the depths, in order to destroy the work of the woman in whose image you were created! (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on:09/11/11)

Figure 4. Maria speaks of peace, not killing! This is not Maria!! (com) [Online image]. At:
http://kennethmarkhoover.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/metropolis6-maria-human.jpg (Accessed on:09/11/11)



Jammathon, James. (2011) The Book of Revelations in Art Deco At: http://filmatica.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/the-book-of-revelations-in-art-deco/
(Accessed on: 09/11/11)

Walters, Ben. (2010) Metropolis Movie Review At: http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/73119/metropolis.html
(Accessed on: 09/11/11)

Film Education. (2010) Metropolis Themes & Context At: http://www.filmeducation.org/metropolis/pdf/Metropolis_Themes_and_context.pdf
(Accessed on: 09/11/11)

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