METROPOLIS (1927

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Directed by Fritz Lang Starring: Gustav Fröhlich Alfred Abel Brigitte Helm
Fig. 1. Poster art Metropolis is a highly influential silent film of the early century that depicts a futuristic world of corporate commercialism and its consequences. This film boils down to being about identity and how dividing the masses is considered inhuman within our natural culture, in this case this mega city known as Metropolis (Meaning simply a large city or more fittingly with the film, ‘mother city’, bearing by its Greek historical meaning) is being run by innumerable numbers of workers who live confirmative, mundane and laborious lives among the rugged, machine ridden underbelly of the city, visually being posted themselves as robotic. The main characters in the film stand as reference for each key aspect of this film’s ideology, Jon Fredersen, played by Alfred Abel is the mega-mind behind the entire construct of the city and within the film, stands as the source of power and institution that the city gives off in its corporate ethos. Jon Fredersen’s son, Freder of whom is played by Gustav Fröhlich is the mediator; Freder has evidently been given the principles of Jesus within the film, gaining the link of the lower working class and the having the link established to the higher upper class by his father, he is enlightened by the story’s prophet, Maria who is played vividly by Brigette Helm as the setter for the religious frequency, cast solidly within the plot, all this making it a structurally integral film with very interesting and diverse ideology. ‘Fritz Lang's 1927 feature if a truly seminal epic in every sense of the term.’ (Levy, E: 2011)

Fig.2. Jon Fredersen close-up Fig.4. Maria close-up Fig.3. Freder close-up

Fig.5. View of Metropolis With all the meaning in place, the set design is the binding agent that makes all these aspects come to life and convey the mood and intimate feelings that the director Fritz Lang is trying to issue to the audience. You get the awe-factor from the sheer scale of the world that’s being depicted, Ed Halter presses the significance ‘Lang's impossibly vast skyscraperziggurats (inspired, it's said, by his first view of the Manhattan skyline) are the blueprint for nearly every science-fiction movie city of the past 30 years’ (Halter, E: 2007). The set design had gained the sense of being epic and dense but in its monochromatic standpoint, the use of camera work (On observation, similar to that of a later Hitchcock film, quite possibly Strangers on a Train) was equally as important to both its logical and perceptive narrative, expressing its means through scenery.

The machinery itself, under the city in the dark depths is an industrial complex of iron, sweat and labour, the machines themselves are either being powered by human force or the power is too great and has to be maintained, either way they do not remain stagnant. With the morals of the workers Fig.6. View of the work station being constantly pressed on the audience, when workers are hurt or even dead, they’re replaced and expected to still work and the drone-like system is kept in place, a possible influence for this distinguished work ethic might have been the response to the soldiers of World War one. ’In the titular futuristic city, a ruling class live in opulence, while a literal underclass toil in a vast subterranean workshop....With its immense sets and stark lighting, the workers' city is a credible image of hell, while the overground landscapes were a seminal influence on all subsequent science fiction.’ Expresses Nev Pierce (Pierce, N: 2003) Fritz Lang makes the distinction very clear when contrasting each division of the world against one another, solidifying a visual landmark into Metropolis that has fed to service even the most contemporary works of this century over eighty years ahead, works far from the methods that this film had used yet remaining very close in the efforts of creating a stylistically conceptual, dystopia.

Fig.7. Metropolis in Ratchet and Clank FUTURE A very vibrant game full of colour and diverse architecture, the Ratchet and Clank series by Insomniac has been a strong standpoint for both the flux in turning gaming into an art form via its adaptive and conceptual nature as well as reinventing definitive visuals into something intriguing and fun to look at. If you were to compare the bulbous structure on the far left with Jon Fredersen’s tower, on the previous page you should see a distinctive visual link with these two mega structures. The dystopian ethos runs through many other examples yet one is a direct adaptation of Metropolis itself.

Fig.8. Mega-structures in Metropolis the anime This anime adaptation is possibly the most powerful insight into the influence of the original Metropolis due to it being a direct take on its form and narrative and furthermore showing how the grandeur of the dystopian template has caught the minds of artists and directors for a long period of time and in turn, recreating different ways to portray its principles within different cultures, forms and ideologies.

‘ The plot borrows heavily from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (my favorite movie ever). When that movie was released, creator Osamu Tezuka -The Godfather of Anime - passed by a poster of the classic silent film and was inspired to write his manga.’ (Mark and Ed: 2010)

Fig.9. Metropolis the anime, poster art

Fig.10. Metropolis poster art [2]

METROPOLIS (1927) List of Illustrations; -Fig.1. Poster art (1927) At: http://impawards.com/1927/metropolis.html Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.2. Jon Fredersen close-up (1927) At: http://metropolis1927.com/ Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.3. Freder close-up (1927) At: http://metropolis1927.com/ Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.4. Maria close-up (1927) At: http://www.matttrailer.com/metropolis_1927 Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.5. View of Metropolis (1927) At: http://classical-iconoclast.blogspot.com/2010/09/fritz-langmetropolis-1927-restored.html Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.6. View of the workstation (1927) At: http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/09.19.02/metropolis-0238.html Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.7. Metropolis in Ratchet and Clank FUTURE (2007) At: http://www.desktopexchange.com/gallery/Video-Game-Wallpapers/Ratchet_Clank_Metropolis Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.8. Mega-structures in the Metropolis anime (2001) At: http://electrokami.com/film/nine-animemovies-worth-seeing/ Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.9. Metropolis the anime, poster art (2001) At: http://neonboy619.blogspot.com/2010/04/osamu-tezukas-metropolis-my-kinda-movie.html Accessed (13/11/11) -Fig.10. Metropolis poster art [2] (1927) At: http://www.panicposters.com/metropolis-poster.html Accessed (13/11/11)

Bibliography; -Levy, E (2011) Rotten Tomatoes At: : http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1013775-metropolis/ Accessed (13/11/11) -Halter, E (2007) Rotten Tomatoes At: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1013775-metropolis/ Accessed (13/11/11) -Pierce, N (2003) BBC At: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2003/01/06/metropolis_1927_review.shtml Accessed (13/11/11) -Mark, Ed (Sic) (2010) Blogspot At: http://neonboy619.blogspot.com/2010/04/osamu-tezukasmetropolis-my-kinda-movie.html (Accessed 13/11/11)