Fig. 1. Metropolis poster.
It is highly possible that Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) is the film that set the standards for todays CG intense films, as Quinn points out ‘Here is the starting-point of so much modern cinema.’ (Quinn, 2014). Metropolis is packed with effects and environments that are astounding for the time they were created. Metropolis tells the story of a man in power (Joh Fredersen) that treats everyone below him as a slave; the workers are overworked and poorly treated. Eventually they rebel against Joh Fredersen and begin to tear down the city. A key message that Lang expresses during the film is that the hand and head can’t see eye to eye without the heart, Joh Fredersen, the workers and Joh Fredersen’s son Freder, symbolizes this (see fig. 2.).
Fig. 2. Head, hand and heart still.
You get a deep understanding of just how over worked the workers are from the very beginning of the film, they walk along in unison, slowly dragging themselves (see fig. 3.). It’s very much a Utopian society, where the rich lead enjoyable lives on the surface, while the poor working class suffers in ‘the depths’. As Wise points out “more a warning than a romance, it deals with issues of modernity that have never gone away. Class conflict is its main thread.” (Wise, 2010), Metropolis explores a major issue that still plagues society today.
Fig. 3. Workers march still.
Religion is a key factor to this film, with Maria preaching words of peace throughout. It appears that Lang uses statues of the seven deadly sins and the grim reaper to relay the impending doom on to the audience. It is likely that the film is touching on the conflict between religion and science; it is possible that Lang uses the grim reaper as a symbol of the destruction of the city due to the work of science (see fig. 4.). “Every contemporary disaster movie owes something to Lang's rampaging flood scenes. And the movie's strain of apocalyptic religious imagery - including the Grim Reaper and embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins - might have lodged in Ingmar Bergman's memory long before he made The Seventh Seal.” (Sragow, 2002).
Fig. 4. Grim reaper still.
The scene in which the mad scientist Rotwang captures and uses Maria to transform the robots appearance is fascinating. It breathes life into the science fiction side of the story, which is expressed throughout the film as a whole with the futuristic city. It’s a startling scene, which is glued together with bolts of lightning and boiling flasks. At this point you get a sense of how chaotic the film will become (see fig. 5.).
Fig. 5. Transformation still.
Lang, F. (1927). Figure 1. Metropolis poster. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/94/Metropolis_poster.jpeg (Accessed on 01/10/2014)
Lang, F. (1927). Figure 2. Head, hand and heart still. http://i2.wp.com/vigilantcitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/metro54-e1288122007687.jpg (Accessed on 01/10/2014)
Lang, F. (1927). Figure 3. Workers march still. http://cdn.madman.com.au/images/screenshots/screenshot_4_8753.jpg (Accessed on 01/10/2014)
Lang, F. (1927). Figure 4. Grim reaper still. https://unholyterrors.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/metro-gothic.jpg (Accessed on 01/10/2014)
Lang, F. (1927). Figure 5. Transformation still. http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2008/07/03/metropolis460.jpg (Accessed on 01/10/2014)
Quinn, A. (2014). independent.co.uk. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/metropolis-pg-2075116.html (Accessed on 30/09/2014)
Sragow, M. (2002). baltimoresun.com. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2002-09-13/features/0209130369_1_joh-metropolis-maria (Accessed on 01/10/2014)
Wise, D. (2010). guardian.co.uk. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/21/metropolis-lang-science-fiction (Accessed on 01/10/2014)