Metropolis

I saw Metropolis yesterday. I’d heard a lot about this 1927 silent movie from Germany with regards to it’s futuristic depictions of science. The movie is centred on a city in the future named Metropolis. This city has two levels — the one above has skyscrapers, trains and roads built in the air between them and flying aircraft while the level below holds the machinery that powers the city and the workers who man the machines. The people above live in luxury where as the people in the depths live in squalor. There is an undercurrent of dissent among the workers and is waiting for the right spark. Their inspiration comes from a woman named Maria. In the world above, Freder (the son of Joh Frederson, the ruler of Metropolis) discovers that his life of luxury is built on the sweat of poor workers and decides to free them. And this is where the story goes all awry. Joh requests his chief scientist Rotwang to send his robot in the likeness of Maria and break the dissent of the workers. Rotwang has been waiting for a chance to take revenge on Joh and so he screws up the plans and makes the robot Maria to inspire the workers to rebel. They wreck the machinery that runs the city. This also causes their underground city to get flooded. And it is the real Maria and Freder who rescue their children from the rising waters. All ends well when Joh acknowledges that this disparity between the thinkers above and the workers below has to end.

The scope of this movie’s story is huge. Themed on an industrial society, it covers everything from machine, technology, dull life of the future, robots and societal problems. I guess its influence will be there in all sci-fi movies made even now. The story in the second half isn’t great and I began wondering what was the point of all this. The effects and vision of the futuristic depictions are simply stunning. Remember that this was a movie made even before the clunky King Kong movie. There is a continuous symphonic background music which I felt was really good in the first half, but grew dull in the second. The music that leads up to the blast in the Heart Machine is neat. The movie is a bit slow (like most old movies) and the second half is especially so. I couldn’t watch this movie again.

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