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Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance
IMDB rating:
Fritz Lang
Alfred Abel as Joh Fredersen
Gustav Fröhlich as Kenichi
Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Duke Red
Fritz Rasp as The Thin Man
Theodor Loos as Josaphat
Heinrich George as Grot, the guardian of the Heart Machine
Storyline: Sometime in the future, the city of Metropolis is home to a Utopian society where its wealthy residents live a carefree life. One of those is Freder Fredersen. One day, he spots a beautiful woman with a group of children, she and the children who quickly disappear. Trying to follow her, he, oblivious to such, is horrified to find an underground world of workers, apparently who run the machinery which keeps the above ground Utopian world functioning. One of the few people above ground who knows about the world below is Freder's father, Joh Fredersen, who is the founder and master of Metropolis. Freder learns that the woman is Maria, who espouses the need to join the "hands" - the workers - to the "head" - those in power above - by a mediator or the "heart". Freder wants to help the plight of the workers in the want for a better life. But when Joh learns of what Maria is espousing and that Freder is joining their cause...
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A true gem of the silent era
For starters I have to say that I don't really dig into the whole silent movie deal due to being stressed by the absence of conversation. But this movie is indeed a gem, a true gem among the silent movies, and even among all other movies, considering it's time frame. Fritz Lang is a straight down genius to have directed this movie. And the cinematography is indeed a brilliant job, even for today's standards. The swinging camera in the air shafts is just pure genius, and rarely reused technique for capturing a shot.The set building and dressing is just purely a work of class; how they nicely build it in detailed precision is a marvel for the 1920s time. The acting overall feels rather nice, although it still has it's dose of over acting by most of its cast, as most silent movies do. But The facial expressions really supported the story telling considering that we only have the inter titles to rely on for story clarity.
An amazing movie
I am going to watch more of what is considered to be bar none top-of the range classics. There are reasons for this, one of them being that I haven't seen that many earlier then a certain date and I feel as though with the three Italian animated Titanic movies, a Coleman Francis movie, Manos: The Hands Of Fate, Night Of Horror and Monster A-Go Go I've seen enough on the other end of the spectrum and my thoughts are "If there are movies that are worse I DO NOT want to know!". So I started with arguably one of the best movies of the 20's and for a means of storytelling that was only 40 years old at the time. I am seriously impressed with what they did here.

The plot is that you have hundreds of people down below one of the biggest and most prosperous cities being put to work in shifts that take their every waking moment with no breaks. These workers all dress the same and don't have identity (and now I know where Orwell got some of his inspiration from! This also being a dystopian future movie to me proves my point). The above city is full of carefree rich people unaware of the thousands of people down below making sure they live those carefree lives. The son of the person running the city finds out about the poor conditions of the working man and decides to switch places with one of them out of guilt, also considering his father won't help them.

Both the father and the son find out that there's a preacher there, promoting peace and hoping that the messiah that they want comes soon and brings about equality, being pure coincidence the son decides to do it because he has a crush on the preacher and she was the reason he stumbled across the working man's life. But the father who earlier found out a mad scientist created robotics and decides to have the robot take her form and switch places. So it does promoting violence and carnage to the rich and the poor so it's up to the son and his friend to set things right.

Before I go into what I think of this movie I think I should tell you a couple of things. From the looks of things over an hour is lost from the original version and while there are titles to fill you in on what happens and there is some re-construction work... The re-construction doesn't look that good compared to the rest of the movie. It looks more like an early Chaplin film. But how it is with a 2 and a half hour run time, you can follow it.

The effects to this movie (considering that film was 40 years old at this stage) are f##king brilliant! The robot (or Machine Man) is a suit that has not only achieved iconic status but it's something that to me holds up after nearly 100 years. The city, aside from some Matte paintings feels alive. The sets for the city, the models and the interiors all hold up really really well. While it maybe standard nowadays I honestly can't think of an earlier movie with effects this good in it or a scale this massive for that matter with at least a couple hundred cast.

What else works? Well, I enjoyed the story despite parts I'll get to later and I think the ties with the industrial revolution is actually pretty clever and a great underlying theme. I like that the titles aren't always a jump-cut to the title card and I did like the music I was hearing over the movie.

So what's bad about this top-of-the range classic? Well, I don't like how silent film stars acted. They just seem too over-the-top... Other then that I might have to go really digging for stuff I don't like. With the story as is (I write this in case in the future more footage is found) the romance is literally just a glance and BAM! They're in love and with what we have as of now, there isn't anything to it. If a longer cut is made and I see it maybe that last part will be re-evaluated but as of now, the movie's romance is not very good.

In all honesty, this is probably an easy vote for my favourite silent movie. It's a classic example of going above and beyond and succeeding gloriously. If anyone would like something to ease themselves into the movies of that time then I would highly recommend this movie. It not only is deserving of film critics and teachers calling it one of the best movies ever made but in my opinion, as someone who I consider halfway between an average movie-goer and a "film snob" this is something I'd recommend.
Holy cow, is this really nine decades old?
Long live modern cinema. No matter how revolutionary the avant-garde movement was for art as a whole, the modernists' true medium, was definitely, the last, seventh art. Metropolis captures perfectly the zeitgeist of its moment: the Weimar's republic contradictions and overlapping between Marxist ideas, Christian references and a futuristic faith in the machines. The way these interplay is astonishing, because the final result is as relevant to today's reality as it was to that of the inter-war period. We still have segregated cities; we still have enslaved proletarians in East Asia building iPhones for a few; violent revolution is still not the answer. And I find very curious how the movie, despite its socialist claims, depicts the workers as an irrational crowd, easily manipulated by pretty much anyone with a tiny bit of agency. And the relation Man-Machine is never completely resolved: are they evil? are they a tool for exploitation? are they the basis of our survival?

What also makes me marvel is that this movie is from the time before the stock market crash; before Hitler. The camera techniques, the special effects (!), the massive amount of extras, have nothing to envy those of today's blockbuster. The plot situations that rise up in this movie, have become way too recognizable tropes over the course of the century. The evil double, the fight on the rooftop, the water rising scene, the artificial hand, the wrongdoer who later sacrifices himself, the damsel in distress... Hollywood seems to have run out of ideas these past ninety years. And yet Metropolis has bits that resemble nothing I ever saw, and completely blew my mind; above all the dancing scene at the end of the Intermezzo, which is probably among the best movie scenes in history, full stop.

Metropolis is, therefore, a virtuous combination, between a movie that fully captures the zeitgeist of the avant-garde time, while at the same time being a timeless piece that is relevant to today's world and can be enjoyed by today's audience as much as the audience it was intended too. Few movies deserve as much to be on the podium of greatest movies of all time.
A silent film ahead of its time...
First of all, I don't consider myself a silent film fan. Actually, I never really seen a silent film until METROPOLIS, unless you count THE ARTIST. Like most people, my first impression would be that silent films are boring. But I was wrong...

METROPOLIS took me completely by surprise. I was impressed at how advance the special effects are. The set design of the city is fantastic, looks very similar to something you would seen in Sci-Fi films today. The story is original with a powerful message. Though the performances of the actors are a bit over the top, which I suppose is to be expected in silent films. Also some lost parts of the film were recovered and restored, so the transitions of different qualities throughout is a bit distracting.

Overall, METROPOLIS is a great film ahead of its time. Though, I must admit it is a little hard to sit through; I myself ended up stopping it occasionally, it is a good 2 hours long.
Great Historical Movie
I liked this picture, it's a great example of a visionary mind, and the sets are astonishing. The only thing that keeps me from scoring this movie higher is its futurist message, much identified with fascist ideals of man beneath the machines and the subjugation of people under an automated system, with some elites ruling the world from above in an unfair hierarchy. but this is exciting to watch just for the rules it broke in the time it was made. Oh, for future viewers, please avoid at all costs the 80's version with a score by Giorgio Moroder, since it destroys all the suspense and atmosphere of the movie. I don't know who approved that work, and what took Moroder to do it, but the result is like playing a record of him for 2 hours, disconnecting all the climax from the movie which is to it attributed: for example, a horror scene has the same music as the scene where we see images of the city...horrible to say the least. Whatever problems I find in this picture, I have to take my hat to the way it influenced many pictures till this time, like "The Fifth Element", "Blade Runner" and even "Batman" (the final scene of the cathedral is a perfect pastiche of the one in here). It's a work of vision. Let's praise that!
Almost Its Own Form of Folklore in the World of Cinema.
Metropolis is almost 90 years old to this day. Fritz Lang gave what is arguably the most important film of the silent era with Metropolis. It was the first ever science-fiction feature film when it was made in 1927, and what's also notable is that the film remained partially lost for many years. Thanks to Kino International and film-archivists who discovered a 16mm print in Argentina, combining it with Australian and New Zealand prints of the movie (among other pre-existing positives from Germany, etc.), Metropolis was 95% restored to its original state.

Now, Metropolis: The Restored Cut is a masterpiece of classic cinema that is bold, gorgeous, and very to-the-point with its man-in-the-machine subtext and premise. Its story of classicism is timeless and the set pieces, ranging from the city itself to the reveal of the maschinenmensch (machine-human) this film has many memorable moments. Its stylized landscape shows off the many beauties of German Expressionism in its purest form, and it complements the story being told.

Without this film, there would be no Blade Runner, no 2001: A Space Odyssey, no Star Wars, and definitely no Terminator films. Metropolis is the genesis of modern science fiction cinema, plain and simple. It has been miraculously preserved through the ages since its release and will continue to influence future generations decades from now.

Metropolis is a rich, memorable and honest science fiction film that expresses ideas of one's place in modern society perfectly; and that a little perspective is all it takes to make great changes happen.

Please watch this film when you can. The science fiction genre's inheritance of this film's influence should be reason enough to give it a go.
Make sure you get the latest version!!!!
Metropolis is so gigantic and important a picture that its impact and genius can't be exaggerated. However, almost from the day filming was completed it has been subject to butchery. As a result, chunks of Fritz Lang's original vision have been lost forever, and the film exists in numerous dodgy, splotchy prints, hacked up and misedited, cut down and supplied with musical soundtracks that range from the completely inappropriate to wonderful modern techno-rock things which, nice though they are, are not what Lang had in mind.

Kino came out with a DVD just a few years ago that is a fantastic attempt to restore Lang's original. I am NOT shilling for Kino -- you don't have to buy it, as there are plenty of sources for super-cheap rentals, or you can borrow it from some libraries (or friends!) for free. The point is, if you intend to see this movie, and even if you have seen a videotape version of it before, see this latest version: the picture is super-clear and the lighting restored; every bit of Lang's film that survives is included; Lang's original title cards are restored; the bits that have been lost forever are discreetly replaced with a title card to summarize the action that you should be seeing, in a way that completely unobtrusively, but helpfully, clarifies the film; and the soundtrack is the restored musical score.

If your only experience of this movie has been a rocked-up modern club-kid version, or a creaky, shadowy poor print on video with a single cheery piano tune incessantly repeated as the score, see this latest restoration. It will become clear to you what all the excitement and angst was about back in Lang's day.
Watch the Kino Video DVD; It has the Complete Storyline.
Story Line:

Joh Fredersen is the leader of Metropolis, a sunny, towering city full of energy and commerce. Freder is his son who revels in the libertine freedom that he has as a son of privilege. One day, while cavorting in the Eternal Gardens with a dozen scantily clad women, Freder sees a school teacher bring a group of dirty, poor children into the garden. The staff and the women are shocked and annoyed, but Freder is captivated by the teacher's words that "we are all brothers" and, of course, her beauty.

Freder sets out to find the school teacher and investigate the world of the workers. The workers live deep underground operating the machines that keep Metropolis operating. The workers are not like the Morlocks of Wells' The Time Machine, they do not terrorize the upper dwellers, but they are rarely seen on the surface. He is searching the underground for her when he witnesses a terrible accident where dozens of workers are scalded with steam. Freder comes to see the machine as a god demanding sacrifice. He rushes to see his father to tell him of the horror, but his father is only upset that his own people didn't tell him first.

We are introduced to Rotwang, an inventor who was a suitor of Joh Fredersen's now dead wife, Hel. He has created a Machine Man whom he says is Hel still living. But before we can work that out, we find the school teacher, named Maria, leading a religious service with the workers. She tells them that a mediator will come to set them free peacefully. Rotwang and Joh Fredersen decide to make the Machine Man look like Maria, and trick the workers into attacking Metropolis so they can be put down with brutal force.

Unknown to Joh Fredersen, Rotwang is still bitter about Hel and has set Machine Maria to not only destroy the workers, but Metropolis too. Machine Maria not only convinces the workers to destroy the machines that power Metropolis but also those that keep underground water from flooding the worker's living areas. At the same time, she uses her body as a dancer to keep the people of Metropolis too distracted to know what is going on. The workers storm the machines to the strains of La Marseillaise.

The result is the destruction of the worker's homes and the imperiling of their children. When the workers realize the folly of their acts, they turn on Machine Maria and burn her at the stake as a witch.

There is a silly chase at the end (the acting has been very good up until this part), where Freder saves the real Maria, then brings both the workers and the city dwellers together to fix their city.

Metropolis as Christian Allegory:

The most obvious example of Christian symbolism is the Whore of Babylon story from Revelation, with the Machine Maria playing the part explicitly while she is distracting the city dwellers. But there are others, too.

The teacher is named Maria, a variant of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Maria is the one who finds the mediator between head and hands like Mary brings Jesus, who is said to be the mediator between God and man, into the world. In Mary's religious chapel in the depths, the symbolism is strongly Christian, with crosses and fish. One of her prayers is that "The mediator will come" just like prayers in the Bible that the messiah will come. The movie opens and closes with the quote: "The mediator between head and hands must be the heart." Freder is placed as that heart, that mediator, that savior figure who beings healing.

Even pagan gods mentioned in the Bible are alluded to. The word "Moloch" flashes up in the scene where Freder sees the machine as a god demanding sacrifice. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that Moloch is named in the Old Testament of the Bible as one of the pagan religions stamped out early on: "The chief feature of Moloch's worship among the Jews seems to have been the sacrifice of children, and the usual expression for describing that sacrifice was 'to pass through the fire,' a rite carried out after the victims had been put to death."

When Joh Fredersen's right hand man is fired because of his incompetence, he is sent into the depths with the workers like a person being cast out of God's sight and being damned to Hell. Freder acts the part of the Jesus the savior by offering a job and allowing him to stay. The depths where the workers live and work look like Hell with smoke, steam, and heat.

Metropolis as Foreshadowing of the Holocaust:

Although Mein Kampf was published the year before the movie was released, but it would still be several years before the Nazis came to power in Germany. Nevertheless, Metropolis is an eerie foreshadowing of the work and death camps to come. Just like prisoners in a concentration camp, the workers do not have names, only numbers. They have been dehumanized to the point where they not only look and act like a part of the machines they operate, but they are numbered like parts in a catalog. When his son tells him the plight of the workers, Joh Fredersen comments that "the workers are where they belong, in the depths" -- sounding much like the Nazis saying Jews and other undesirables belonged in ghettos and camps. During the metaphor of the machine as Moloch requiring human sacrifice, there are dozens of men marching into the gaping, flaming maw of the god like so many concentration camp victims marching to the crematorium. Finally, during the story of the Tower of Babel that Maria tells the workers, there is a depiction of thousands of nearly naked workers who were shaved bald that looked just like concentration camp workers from the Nazi era.
the best
the greatest movie ever made.this movie set the ground rules and framework for so many movies,and not just sci-fi...langs'genius has been copied by all those that have followed...i think the only thing that comes close is bladerunner... but harrison fords' dark brooding,and sean young we could have done metropolis,the silent version is superior to the remade moroder version,although i loved the music,but that was redone only for those with poor attention spans... that a film can be so outstanding and visionary is a tremendous achievement...i really hope that we don't have another remake,for goodness favorite scene is of the "sacrifice"to the monster "moloch".ie,the totalitarian regime...
Highly influential and, dare I say, prophetic?
Fritz Lang's Metropolis is the first true masterpiece of science fiction in film. You can see it's influence in films such as Star Wars, The Matrix, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Blade Runner, and countless others. Despite the fact that parts of the film are no longer available, the efforts to reconstruct the original film from its remains are valiant enough to provide enough to make the story clear. The special effects were far ahead of their time and the set designs were, in some cases, phenomenal. I can see where some people may not enjoy this movie. It is hard for some to really appreciate a movie that is 77 years old, because a lot has happened in film since then. Yet, if you look at the basic elements of this movie - its story, characters, artwork, cinematography, etc., I believe this movie has just as much to offer now as it must have in the late 1920's. Also, take into consideration the asthetics of German expressionist film when viewing this. The performances and set designs are going to be over the top. That was part of the style. Metropolis may not be for everyone, but, for those willing to read between the lines, this film still has a lot to offer!
See Also
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