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September 1, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Classic Film: Metropolis

Directed by Fritz Lang

It is said that Joseph Goebbels was so impressed by Metropolis that he offered Fritz Lang the position as head of Universum Film AG (the powerful German film studio, which became synonymous with propaganda following the ascension of the Nazi party), however not being a fan of the fascists he chose to flee his home land, continuing to direct in Hollywood, but none of his US films ever lived up to Die Nibelungen and Metropolis which ensured his place as one of the silent era’s greatest directors.

The film set in the year 2026 tells the story of a stratified society. The elite philosophers and designers live atop magnificent gothic skyscrapers; they live in luxury but most don’t know how their machines and world continues to be powered. Meanwhile the Proletariat toil below the clouds – ensuring the great machines and power plants are kept in motion – yet are kept in the dark about their real purpose. Until one day a young man from the upper city visits the underground, where he see the horrible life-threatening conditions of the workers and falls in love with Maria, one of the workers who longs for revolution but who rejects the “by any means necessary” revolutionary mindset.

It is an epic in every sense and its story is still poignant to this day, especially its musing on the power structure behind how we fuel and support our society’s progress and comfort through the repression and sacrifice of others.

But its greatest contribution to film is its photography: the visuals remain without parallel. The cityscapes have influenced every image of a dystopian city since, owing much of its beauty to the German expressionist painters of the time, most importantly George Grosz (see below)

It’s art in the true meaning of the word. And with an original print just recently unearthed, the future for this classic is looking bright.


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