Posted by: David Stewart | August 14, 2010

Catch Metropolis in the theaters while you can

Metropolis is a silent movie, originally released in 1927. Although much of the footage was lost soon after the movie premiered, it was recently rediscovered in Argentina in bad condition.

The restored movie is showing currently in art house cinemas. I saw it at the Living Room Theater in downtown Portland, Oregon.

  • The story is of a rich young man who descends from his tower of privilege into the depths of the lower classes, all for the sake of love.
  • But young fresh love isn’t the only driving force; there is also obsessive love, that doesn’t die even when the object of that love has been dead for many years.
  • But ultimately it’s social context lies in the tension between labor and management, rich and poor, privileged and downtrodden.
  • A Mediator is needed between the head and the hands of this great city. There is a spiritual element of how the Mediator provides Redemption
  • An artificial person, indistinguishable from a real human, plays a key role in bringing down society. Much like the story line of Battlestar Galactica in this decade.
  • The visuals of the massive, dystopian future city are amazing, particularly given the technology of 1927. 
  • Metropolis the city becomes the visual model for many movie dystopias to follow, including Blade Runner, Brazil, the original Tim Burton Batman and The Fifth Element.
  • The working class are pictured as slaves of the machines that power the great city above. In many scenes, they become the working parts of the machines themselves, moving and practically dancing in unison with the great engines. There is a fantasy scene where the workers are fed like human sacrifices into the mouth of the vast machines.
  • The soundtrack is of the original orchestral score. Unlike current movies where the music is filtered and sweetened, this was a bit raw, with little sounds from the players kept intact. As if a real orchestra were playing.

This is a must-see for any fan of original cinema or speculative fiction. It’s worth seeing in theaters while you still can.

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