Short summary of the film
To begin with, it is important to note that the current paper aims to discuss the Metropolis silent film, which was released in 1927. A close look at the data indicates that this film was made in Germany by Fritz Lang, who was an Austrian-German screenwriter, producer, actor, and director. It should be mentioned that Fritz Lang is famous for his experiments with expressionism in cinematography (Kobel, 103). This fact is very important in the analysis of the Metropolis film.
The film was the biggest-budgeted movie in Germany, produced by Erich Pommer with the help of Babelsberg Studios. The screenplay was written by Thea von Harbou. The main actors were Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Brigitte Helm, and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Karl Freund, Walter Ruttmann, and Gunther Rittau were responsible for cinematography.
The running time of the first version of the film was 153 minutes. Unfortunately, the original film was lost due to partly unknown reasons (Giannetti, 82-83). The film was retranslated in truncated versions. According to the critics, the film lacked a quarter from the primary length. The filmmakers and film lovers have found the parts of the film and partly restored it. After different attempts of restoration, the film was remade.
Metropolis was nominated for various awards, such as Saturn Best International Film Award. The film has won the Avignon/New York Festival Award and New York Film Critics Award. As a result, the Metropolis film is considered to be among the first cinematography projects in the genre of science fiction, which became especially popular after the WWII.
Synopsis of the film
The film describes the society of the future. The action happens in the specific city-state Metropolis, which has strange Gothic skyscrapers and discriminative social structure. The society is divided into the two groups. The first group is consisted of thinkers and planners, who live on the surface of the planet with the best conditions of living. The second group is represented by the workers who live underground. Their only aim is to maintain the luxury life of the people from the first group. The city is governmed by Johann Fredersen.
The narrative describes beautfil Maria, who lives with workers and tries to help them. She wants them to forget about the ideas of revolution and search for “The Mediator”, who would unite the two groups in accordance with her prophecy. When she comes to the city of rich, Freder, who is the son of Fredersen, becomes infatuated with her charm and beauty. He follows her to the underworld, where he finds the awful conditions of worker’s living. He wants to help them.
At this time, the scientist Rotwang creates the robotic gynoid with the face of Maria. He makes it to help Fredersen to control workers. However, he has his own intention to kill Freder. Rotwang imprisons Maria and sends robot with her face to set the riot and destroy the life of workers. The leader of workers Gont argues that this is a bad idea. The workers follow the advices of robot and destroy the power station. It leads to the destruction of the electrical system in the city.
Maria escapes from Rotwang and tries to find Freder. At this time, angry workers are going to find Maria and kill her. Fortunately, they kill robot and Maria survives. Freder finds Rotwang and kills him. Finally, Maria asks Freder to be the mediator between head and hands or Gont and Frederson.
Summary of one external film review
It is possible to discuss the review of Philip French from The Guardian online newspaper. French points out that the film was very expensive: “worked for over a year on his most expensive movie” (French 1). The high budget demonstrates the possibilities of the director. Therefore, it would be better to watch the film without shorten length.
Philip French points out that the film received mixed reviews due to some illogical aspects of the plot. He states that the famous critics, such as Herbert Wells, were “scornful” (French 1). However, it does not make the film to be bad. French believes that Metropolis continues to be one of the most influential silent sci-fi films of the epoch. The film had a huge impact on the further development of cinematography: “It influenced generations of film-makers and musicians, providing iconic images of oppression and liberation” (French 1).
The critic thinks that film has a rare mixture of melodrama, German romanticism, and expressionism. The film is very stylish, which is important for the cinematography. French summarizes that it is essential for everyone to watch this film due to its high cultural importance and specific charm of the silent film: “It should be in everyone’s film library” (French 2).
Discussion of the director’s vision of future and elites
The director tries to reveal the difference between the two social groups with the help of dresses and conditions of living. It becomes clear that the planners live better because they have nice suits and work with cozy offices. The presense of animals is also very important. It demonstrates that the elites are close to the natural living. Obviously, they enjoy cars and all achievements of civilization.
On the other hand, the workers look very poor and stressed. Their faces represent much suffering. They are surrounded by machines. Thus, they have no connection with flowers or animals. Their destiny is to be the part of the system. Obviously, this idea is common for anti-utopian genre. The diversification of the society on the two polar groups is usually used to demonstrate social inequality (Fabe, 173).
The theme of connection between the hands and the head is essential in understanding of the film. The hands mean the working class while the heads mean the organizators of the process. This theme makes the film to be not only anti-utopian narrative but also to reveal the interesting idea of adequate governing. The director aims to demonstrate that both workers and planners are equal. It was an important idea in the year 1927 in Germany with increasing role of radical parties when the gap between the leaders and workers increased.
The idea of the connection between hands and the head is common in our society. It makes the film actual in the 21st century. Evidently, the life of top-management significantly differs from the life of common employees due to the difference in benefits from work. However, these benefits are created both by workers and planners. Therefore, the system of capitalism could be also discussed in accordance with conclusions of this film. It makes Metropolis to be actual in the long-term period.
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Fabe, Marilyn. 2014. Closely Watched Films: An Introduction to the Art of Narrative Film Technique. University of California Press. Print.
French, Philip. “Metropolis Review”. 2016. The Guardian. Web. February 18, 2016.<http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/mar/15/metropolis-fritz-lang-philip-french-classic-dvd>
Giannetti, Louis, Eyman, Scott. 2006. Flashback: A Brief Film History. Pearson Publishing. Print.
Kobel, Peter. 2006. Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture. Brown and Company. Print.