Silent, black and white, old format, some very grainy frames and inline intermissions speak to an era way gone by – however, it still makes an impact. I can’t say whether or not the theme of a utopian minority juxtaposed with a dystopian majority was born from this film but its a theme consistently laid down by the film industry. While late-model films based on this theme, like Elysium, have relied on FX to convey the disparity, Metropolis relies on acting, directing, musical score, choreography and for the era, extremely well-designed sets and lighting. It works exceedingly well.
Its disorienting to be sitting in front of a flat screen here in 2014, watching a film made in 1926 about a future set in 2026. Aside from a few anachronisms, as a sci-fi film prognostication, Fritz Lang’s vision of 2026 is disturbingly similar to those made later in time, maybe without the 1920’s propensity for heavy eye makeup.
Are you the one who figured out what the color red meant in Sixth Sense before someone told you? Well then, you will need to watch this a few times to hack through the forest of symbolism and biblical allegories, which seem to all lead back to the Tower of Babel.
I read a little about the history and restoration. Apparently, when it debuted in Berlin circa1927, it was not considered a raging success. The protocol mafia had 25 minutes removed because those bits were considered offensive at the time. Strangely, an unedited but badly damaged version of the film was recovered in Argentina circa 2008 and restored (as best they could). This version is known as The Complete Metropolis.
For film fans, this is required viewing. And for all others, you’ll still want to see it, just to say you’ve seen a film almost a century old – and you liked it.