Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Film Review: Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' (1927 )

Fig 1. Metropolis Poster

Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' (1927) is a German Science - Fiction film set in a futuristic city. The city seems to be full of life as there is always something going on in either the background or the main focus. The city's structure seems to resemble a high earning settlement where it is controlled by one man Joh Frederson (The main characters father).

The Main character of the film is presented to the viewers as a hero, some may seem him as a martyr, others may see him as a freedom fighter via the use of his position and voice, there is also a religious aspect, where people see him as a symbol of hope, the saviour of the city and the people who are stuck down in the working class area.

Peter Bradshaw: "one of the biggest, strangest, maddest films in cinema history returns, with missing footage restored:
 a textual enlargement that of course "explains" nothing about the film, and just makes it bigger, stranger and madder than ever. Fritz Lang's 1927 film is a crazed futurist epic, a mythic sprawl with something of Jung and Wagner, and dystopian nightmare about a city-state built on slave labour, whose prosperity depends on suppressing a mutinous underground race whose insurrectionist rage is beginning to bubble. Metropolis predicts the ideologies of class and race of the 20th century, and there is a perennial frisson in the way the workers' leader Maria longs for a messianic figure who can find a middle way between the head and the heart, the bosses and the workers: he will be the Mediator, or the "Mittler" – a word that has a chilling echo with another real-life leader who at the time of Metropolis's premiere had a few seats in the Reichstag. The "Maschinenmensch" robot based on Maria is a brilliant eroticisation and fetishisation of modern technology and the current crisis in Dubai, whose economic boom was founded on a colossal import of globalised labour, makes Metropolis seem very contemporary."

Characters to focus on are Maria ( The Heroin ), C.A Rotwang (Mad scientist), Joh Frederson, Freder ( Main Character/Hero). All these characters have a specific focus onto them such as Maria who seems to be the voice of the working class, a symbol to them which makes them want to fight for their freedom through the means of peaceful actions. C.A Rotwang is a mad man who has suffered great loss of losing a woman who left him for Joh Frederson and eventually died giving birth to Freder, and thus has become dependant and driven insane with building a life like replica of Hel . Joh Frederson is the head of the city and is set on power and control. It seems the pyramid effects comes into play with his mind where Upper class can never mix with the lower class and thus an ongoing War is formed between right and wrong. And lastly Freder who seems to believe that his father is blind to his beliefs and believes that all people should be equal and work together. He seeks out to try and bring everyone together by his own hands using his position of power and belief in the system that is corrupt.

Fig 2. Still of the metropolis.

Roger Ebert: "Generally considered the first great science-fiction film, "Metropolis" (1927) fixed for the rest of the century the image of a futuristic city as a hell of scientific progress and human despair. From this film, in various ways, descended not only “Dark City” but “Blade Runner,” “The Fifth Element,” “Alphaville,” “Escape From L.A.,” “Gattaca,” and Batman's Gotham City. The laboratory of its evil genius, Rotwang, created the visual look of mad scientists for decades to come, especially after it was mirrored in “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935). And the device of the “false Maria,” the robot who looks like a human being, inspired the “Replicants” of “Blade Runner.” Even Rotwang's artificial hand was given homage in “Dr. Strangelove.”

The entire story gives off many thoughts on what the directer is trying to base the story around, Is it religious terms, Equality rights, a man blinded by power who people seek to conquer, or is it just simply a film about rebelling.

Fig.3 Still of Joh Frederson and C.A Rotwang.

Mick LaSalle: "Seeing it is a time-bending experience, a way of visiting the past and glimpsing the past's idea of the future. A masterpiece of art direction, the movie has influenced our vision of the future ever since, with its imposing white monoliths and starched facades. In "Metropolis," the upper class inhabits the city's surface, while workers, held in little better than slave conditions, live and work in underground mines."

Brigitte Helm plays a saintly figure named Maria who rallies the workers and acts on their behalf. But she is imprisoned by the ruling powers, and a replica robot Maria is sent down to the mines to incite the workers to a self- destructive riot.

Around the time the film was being produced the Ruhr Uprising was happening which was a Left- wing workers revolt. This may of given the director an idea for the film and so based the film on  his research and experience into the Ruhr Uprising.

Overall the film contains many strong characters with a wide range of personality and beliefs.

The camera angles used in the film was very clever, The wide camera that was used, was to show the pure size of the fictional city Metropolis. When the destruction of the city was happening at certain points, a handheld camera was used, in which the camera shuddered forward at certain points as if to make the viewer feel like they were in the destruction of the city as it was happening.



Peter Bradshaw, (2010), Metropolis Review, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/09/metropolis-restored-film-review

Roger Ebert, (1998), Metropolis Review,

Mick LaSalle, (2002) , Metropolis Review, 


Fig. 1, Metropolis Poster, (2009),  en.wikipedia.org

Fig. 2, still of film, (2013),finzi22l.wordpress.com

Fig. 3, Still of film, (2012), www.myfilmviews.com


  1. Getting there, Sam! Some interesting points explored here...

    Make sure that the quotes you use are concise and focus on the point you are trying to emphasise...your first quote, for example, is very long, and you could probably have extracted some of the more relevant themes, and cut it back a bit. Also, when introducing the quote, give a little more information about what is coming; so for example,

    'As Peter Bradshaw explains in his review, 'One of the biggest...blah blah blah' (Bradshaw, 2009)

    See also how I have included the reference directly after the quote.

    Double-check that your bibliography is set out in the required fashion by looking again here - http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/Harvard-Referencing

    Looking forward to seeing what you made of 'King Kong' :)

    1. Thanks for the feedback Jackie, I will look into my quotes further and also will try to correctly present my bibliography.