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Movie Review - Metropolis (1927 Germany)

Updated on March 7, 2012


How amazing it is that we can now watch classic films such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis whenever we wish, and in lovingly re-mastered and restored prints, with the original score, too!

The first time I saw this picture in the mid-1970’s, the 16 mm print was horribly scratched and murky, the scenes were out of order (this picture was re-cut several times by studio hacks instructed to "improve" Lang's masterpiece), and it was sans either title cards or score. The kindly film historian who screened it for me apologized and said that what we watched that night was as close as anyone would ever get to seeing this movie as Lang intended. Not so! The Metropolis you will get today is a true wonder, re-mastered, spliced together in the correct order (there are, however, bits missing that may never be found and restored), with Lang’s title cards and score back in place.

Watch the trailer:

The picture itself is so ahead of its time that it astounds me. First of all, it is the first true full length Sci-Fi film (although the short French 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune and Danish 1918 short Himmelskibit predate it), and innovative in the use of special effects, as well. And the theme -- that we are doomed to be slaves to technology even as that same technology provides us with the basics of life -- is more apt today than ever, when our love/hate affair with The New has reached the fullness of its pathos.


The visual elements in Metropolis are absolutely stunning; it is a rich kaleidoscope of Art Deco design and futuristic fantasy. It is a film that can be enjoyed just on the virtues of set design, costume and concept as a work of art even if you pay no attention whatsoever to plot and storytelling.

The usual caveats that apply to any silent era film are pertinent here: the acting had not as yet evolved from broad, gestural stage acting style and the pacing is much more stately than in any contemporary film. Personally, I feel that none of that significantly detracts from its ability to tell a complex story in a coherent and dramatically satisfying way. Besides all that, this is also quite simply a fun picture to watch, filled with surprises and in every way worthy of inclusion on any list of the best movies of all time.

Metropolis is a very cool picture, recommended for all, enjoy!


Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.


(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at RobertaLeeArt.com.)

Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 2 hr.

In Theaters: Mar 13, 1927

On DVD: Feb 18, 2003

Box Office:$0.5M

Distributor:Paramount Pictures

Directed By: Fritz Lang


Cast:

Alfred Abel - Joh Fredersen

Gustav Froehlich - Freder

Rudolf Klein-Rogge - Rotwang

Theodor Loos - Josaphat/Joseph

Heinrich George - Grot (Foreman)

Brigitte Helm - Maria/Robot

What do think of Metropolis?

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    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Great hub about a great movie. I did a hub about the German silent era that has a little bit about Metropolis, but not in such detail, more or less about how it inserts into the German Expressionistic era. The only thing I'd question is the assertion that this is the first scifi film, with Le Voyage dans la Lune and Himmelskibit having been made before. I will say that it is the most profound and still relevant scifi, and more importantly one that changes the game.

      I really enjoyed this hub and I'm going to add it as a link to my hub so that when other people want to know about German history, they can have this to read as well.

      https://hubpages.com/entertainment/German-Cinema-W...

      I hope you don't mind. I also love that you sneaked in M in there. I love that one as well, in fact, it's one of my favorites. Great job.

      Voted up awesome and interesting!

    • DIYmyOmy profile image
      Author

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful observations! I think of Metropolis as the first full-length, fully-realized sci fi, but I will amend this review to mention the two pioneering works you mention. Isn't it *wonderful* that we can watch this films whenever we want, and in remastered versions, as well?

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Absolutely! I had the pleasure of watching Metropolis on the big screen when he was re-released and it was a-ma-zing. The picture was so grand and all encompassing that it was easy to sink into Lang's world.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image
      Author

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I've never seen it on a big screen, maybe one day.....sigh.

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      My suggestion to you is to look at your local universities or New York if you're inclined to go there. They show Lang, Weine and Pudovkin often on the big screen for the students!

    • DIYmyOmy profile image
      Author

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Sounds like a plan, thanks!

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Good work, a sci-fi classic and an expensive flop in it's time. Looking at Vanessa's comment it wasn't the first sci-fi film but it was the first 'big' sci-fi film and the first to feature a robot on screen?

      I can't remember that last picture in the film though. [wink]

      Voted Up.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image
      Author

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Steve - Thanks so much for the encouraging words, I've been reading your movie reviews at http://hubpages.com/@stevelensman and I'm way, way impressed!

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