Monday, 6 October 2014

Film Review - Metropolis


This review examines Fritz Lang's 1927 film; Metropolis, in particular its design, plot and characters. Metropolis features a city of epic proportions with innumerable citizens with an "underclass" and "eliteclass". The workers live in squalor maintaining the massive machines underneath the city while the elite live in luxury enjoying leisurable activities.

Figure 1
Anthony Quinn of the Independent mentions in a review; "a nightmarish projection of humanity forced to operate as machines" (Quinn, 2010). The machines that power Metropolis are horrible, large devices that require constant attention and care and no attempt is seemingly made by the management to make the machines easier to use or mainatin with the men working them having to maintain them for seemingly hours at a time without rest. It is possible that the film depicts the social status and worth of the working class who are little more than drones who work and then sleep with little hope or future. "Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) and Triumph des Willens (Leni Riefenstahl, 1934), two important German films separated by almost a decade, one is reflection of society’s desire to break class ranks and seek equality within a fascist state." (Boland, 2010). The scene depicting the workers and in particular the workers being fed to the machine bears a vague yet grotesque resemblence to jewish prisoners in the concentration camps during WW2.

This raises the question of whether the film speaks about political themes such as capitalism or exploitation, during the time of this film Nazisim was on the rise and Metropolis exemplified the notion of revolution and classess society, it is true that in 1937 Nazi propoganda minister Joesph Goebbels offered Lang a top place in the German Cinema Institute which Lang refused.

Figure 2

Figure 2 depicts Maria being turned into a robot, this scene is iconic in science fiction.
"The sequence in which Rotwang, the inventor, manufactures a double of Mary is put forth in a startling fashion" (Hall, 1927) in agreement with this point is that the scene in which Mara is transformed is quite fantastical making use of special effects and an inspiring set design.

The films humble plot of a love story soon delves deep into the hearts of several of the characters, the protagonist; Freder becomes infatuated with a girl Maria who is in fact a beacon of hope for the oppressed workers. Freders infatuation brings him into conflict with his father who orders Maria captured by the deranged scientist Rotwang and turned into a robotic humanoid in order to sow discord and chaos in the worker ranks and quell their hope of freedom. The situation degrades rapidly and revolution enses, ironically the working masses are so easily swayed, instead of being freed from slavery to make their own lives they have simply been manipulated by yet another figure who practically enslaves them yet again. They follow orders willingly without pause or question even when asked to carry out atrocities.

Figure 3

"The actors give typical silent-film performances, full of exaggerated expressions and broad gestures, but they express their characters' fragile humanity despite these mannerisms." [Jardine, 2010]. As Jardine points out the actors live in a silent film, that being said their actions and expressions show their respective personalities. Maria represents hope and innocence while Freder portrays courage and morality. The insane Rotwang has become epitomical of the mad scientist stock character. Even the mob portrays a personality of anger and naivety.


Anthony Quinn. 2010. metropolis-pg-2075116.html. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6th October2014].

Mordau Hall. 1927. review?res=9A05E2D8143BE13ABC4F53DFB566838C639EDE. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4th October 2014]

David Jardine. 2010. metropolis-germany-1927-fritz-lang-set.html [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6th October 2014]

Illustration List
Figure 1
N/A, (1927), 1424.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed on24 September 2014].

Figure 2
N/A, (1927), 156876-science-fiction-metropolis-1927.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed on 6th October 2014]

Figure 3
N/A, (1927), 43254-hi-tcm_metropolis.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed on 6th Octorber 2014)

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