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Thank you, Fritz Lang.


misswonderly3
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For reasons that even I, a confirmed movie-lover, cannot explain, I had never seen Metropolis all the way through, beginning to end. I'd just seen bits of it here and there, and had foolishly thought I'd seen enough to say I knew the film.

No. I did not "know" the film until tonight, when I finally saw the whole masterpiece in its entirety.

 

I suppose for some here it's like saying I'd never seen Citizen Kane, or Casablanca, before. Still, better late than never. Certainly when it comes to this fantastic cinematic creation about - well, it felt like it was about everything. Science, magic, history, the past, the future, politics, revolution, power, love, fear. A genuine work of art that moves and engages us as only a few artistic creations do. A feast for the eyes, the mind, the heart, and the imagination.

 

Do you folks out there agree, or am I over-reacting? But no, I don't think so. I only wish I hadn't waited this long to see it.

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Do you folks out there agree, or am I over-reacting? But no, I don't think so. I only wish I hadn't waited this long to see it.

 

No, misswonderly3, you are not over-reacting.  It would be difficult to over-state the scope of the movie.  You've hit on the thing that makes Metropolis one of the true masterpieces of art.  It operates on many levels at the same time, mythic, religious, psychological, social, economic, personal.  And, since the characters embody the themes the movie examines, they are linked through them, and their actions drive all the elements forward as the story plays out.  So, as Freder pursues his love Maria, he also fulfills the mythic, and religious prophecies.  It also awakens him to the social divide between the owners and the workers.  It's one of the most brilliantly structured stories in film.  It is my understanding that Thea von Harbou, then Fritz Lang's wife, wrote the screenplay/novel with him.  Of course, as is true with all science fiction, it is not about a distant time or place, it's about us, about modern industrialism/capitalism, and the disparities is produces.

 

It would also be difficult to over-state the importance and influence of the movie/novel on other movies, and indeed on a lot of the way we think about the relationship of humans, and machines, and society.  I've stated elsewhere that Metropolis is the most influential movie ever made, and it's easy to see how it echoes through time.  Any movie with any reference to dystopias (Things to Come, Fantastic Planet, Soylent Green, Blade Runner, etc.) can all trace their origin to this movie, for von Harbou created the concept (notwithstanding some hints at it in earlier s/f writing).  But it doesn't end there, even if Metropolis were only responsible for the creation scene, where the Man Machine is given the form of Maria, it would still be one of the most influential movies.  It is the archetype of the mad scientist's laboratory.  All the Frankenstein movies, The Mystery of the Wax Museum, Doctor X, Star Trek (you will remember a particular episode), Casino Royale, The Man in the White Suit, and any number of other movies, owe their atmosphere, equipment, and processes to this scene.

 

Think also of the concept of the city.  A super-dense, vertical environment, existing on many levels (literally and figuratively), with people and vehicles moving on roads, tracks, bridges, flyways, and through the air.  Any movie with futuristic portrayals of cities will echo these elements (even today, we still look forward to a time people commute with personal aircraft).  Compare also the tower Joh Fredersen runs Metropolis from with the Tower of Babel in the story Maria relates.

 

A last note.  Metropolis has with it one of the finest ideas in Western thought.  The epigram of the movie:  Between the Head and the Hands must be the Heart.  That is, between the intellect and instinct must come something, humanity, compassion, love, however you want to call it, to reconcile to two, to get them to work together rather than conflict.  It is a formula for civilization, for how to live in a civilized manner, humanely, humanly. 

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One very interesting movie.  There's this 2010 fully restored version which TCM airs.  Then there is also a shorter 90 minute version which contained all the footage known to exist up to 1984, and incorporated popular 1980s musicians and the often heard (but seldom seen) synthesizer keyboards of Giorgio Moroder.  Before that it was essentially a "shelved" movie.

 

In 1984, Giorgio Moroder (music producer and composer for Flashdance, Top Gun, etc) compiled a new restoration and edit of the silent film Metropolis (1927) and provided it with a contemporary soundtrack. This soundtrack includes seven pop music tracks from Pat Benatar, Jon Anderson, Adam Ant, Billy Squier, Loverboy, Bonnie Tyler and Freddie Mercury. He also integrated the old-fashioned intertitles into the film as subtitles as a means of improving continuity, and he also increased the film's framerate to 24 frames a second. Since the original speed was unknown this choice was controversial. Known as the "Moroder version", it sparked debate among film buffs, with outspoken critics and supporters of the film falling into equal camps.[26]

 

Wikipedia page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Moroder

 

IMDB page

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002380/

 

Giorgio+Moroder.jpg

 

I am only left to imagine what it might be like if they added these synthesizer sound effects and music to the newest version, with some newer Moroder composition to fill in the blanks.  Preferably in the style of his early 80's music - or maybe even fill the gaps with some of the original composition, as used in the 2010 version.  The most recent restoration is easier to watch, but I think the 1984 version is easier to listen to.

 

 

Here is a sample of what the 1984 version was like.  (Also available on Kino DVD/Blu-Ray)

 

 

 

 

And here is the music (with Pat Benetar) they used for the end of the final scene and the closing credits

 

 

 

Fritz Lang and Thea, circa 1923/24

 

Fritz_Lang_und_Thea_von_Harbou,_1923_od.

 

P.S. No I don't think you are overreacting.

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Miss Wonderly, I certainly agree with your sentiment.  One possible advantage you had in waiting this long is that you were able to see the film in its 2010 restored state, which is far beyond anything that was available for as much as 70 years prior.  You really have to admire and appreciate the work the film restorers do in bringing these back.  For Metropolis, we are now able to enjoy the restored visual portion of the film along with a beautifully recreated score as well.  Another example is the new version of Too Late for Tears that was shown on TCM Friday night. Eddie Muller was rightfully proud of the role the Film Noir Foundation played in its recovery.  With TCM HD and good DVD / Blu-Ray versions we are really fortunate to get to experience something closer to the original presentation.

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I had seen several versions of METROPOLIS through the years and when a friend did a private screening of it at the theater, I yawned. Fellow film buddy Markfp2 urged me to come along, he's always up for a movie.

 

Boy am I glad we went. Seeing it on the BIG silver screen was a joy. If it held your attention at home on TV, imagine what it's like seeing it in a movie palace with a group of friends.

 

I love Fritz Lang's films. Many are diverse in theme, but they all feature clocks & doorways.

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misswonderly3--you are not overreacting.

 

TCM is showing "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919),  Sunday, Sept. 6th at 12:00 a.m. It's maybe the 1st classic of German Expressionism, & it also references dystopias--but I'm not about to quibble with slaytonf's review of Metropolis. :)

 

 

I saw Metropolis in 1994--& this was like seeing it all over again, with gaps and question marks filled in--Thank you, TCM. :)

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No, misswonderly3, you are not over-reacting.  It would be difficult to over-state the scope of the movie.  You've hit on the thing that makes Metropolis one of the true masterpieces of art.  It operates on many levels at the same time, mythic, religious, psychological, social, economic, personal.  And, since the characters embody the themes the movie examines, they are linked through them, and their actions drive all the elements forward as the story plays out.  So, as Freder pursues his love Maria, he also fulfills the mythic, and religious prophecies.  It also awakens him to the social divide between the owners and the workers.  It's one of the most brilliantly structured stories in film.  It is my understanding that Thea von Harbou, then Fritz Lang's wife, wrote the screenplay/novel with him.  Of course, as is true with all science fiction, it is not about a distant time or place, it's about us, about modern industrialism/capitalism, and the disparities is produces.

 

It would also be difficult to over-state the importance and influence of the movie/novel on other movies, and indeed on a lot of the way we think about the relationship of humans, and machines, and society.  I've stated elsewhere that Metropolis is the most influential movie ever made, and it's easy to see how it echoes through time.  Any movie with any reference to dystopias (Things to Come, Fantastic Planet, Soylent Green, Blade Runner, etc.) can all trace their origin to this movie, for von Harbou created the concept (notwithstanding some hints at it in earlier s/f writing).  But it doesn't end there, even if Metropolis were only responsible for the creation scene, where the Man Machine is given the form of Maria, it would still be one of the most influential movies.  It is the archetype of the mad scientist's laboratory.  All the Frankenstein movies, The Mystery of the Wax Museum, Doctor X, Star Trek (you will remember a particular episode), Casino Royale, The Man in the White Suit, and any number of other movies, owe their atmosphere, equipment, and processes to this scene.

 

Think also of the concept of the city.  A super-dense, vertical environment, existing on many levels (literally and figuratively), with people and vehicles moving on roads, tracks, bridges, flyways, and through the air.  Any movie with futuristic portrayals of cities will echo these elements (even today, we still look forward to a time people commute with personal aircraft).  Compare also the tower Joh Fredersen runs Metropolis from with the Tower of Babel in the story Maria relates.

 

A last note.  Metropolis has with it one of the finest ideas in Western thought.  The epigram of the movie:  Between the Head and the Hands must be the Heart.  That is, between the intellect and instinct must come something, humanity, compassion, love, however you want to call it, to reconcile to two, to get them to work together rather than conflict.  It is a formula for civilization, for how to live in a civilized manner, humanely, humanly. 

 

I was going to give my thoughts on this film, but slaytonf has already done a brilliant job of it!   :)

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Pretty good flick, but I've always found the visuals and the sets

more impressive than the story, which is rather heavy handed

and even silly at times. As Sir Alfred supposedly said, It's only

a movie. :)

 

Oh, Vautrin, my friend, I've known you to say that often over the years.  "It's only a movie."  

To which I say, "What the frig? Of course it's only a movie."

 

Whenever you say that, it sounds to me like you're being dismissive. Not only of whatever movie we're talking about, but of movies, period. 

I don't want to go into a big long treatise about movies, and why they're important, and why we love them, because anyone -including you- who comes to this site already knows all that. But I have to say, I find it a particularly pointless statement. It implies that we are foolish when we "get involved" with a film, get upset or elated by it, because after all, it's not real.

 

But to me, that's the whole point - well, one of them, anyway - of watching a film, or reading a novel, or listening to music, and being engaged in it, thinking about it, pondering the characters' decisions and actions, etc.-basically caring about it.

 

It's no fun if every time I watched a film and responded to it emotionally, I were to remind myself, "Oh, it's only a movie."

 

Now here's where you can go, "Don't worry, it's only a post."   B)

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As much as I like Metropolis in general, the story never seemed

very interesting. The class struggle between the capitalists and

the proles and its influence on the lives of each. I think I've read

that one before. Lang does a wonderful job of visualizing it, but it's

rather old hat.

 

To abuse your metaphor, this was the original hat.  The reason you've read that one before is because so many over the years have taken that hat and worn it themselves.  You don't disparage Frankenstein (Shelly's or Whale's) because so many have riffed on it since them.  Your boredom with the story is an indication of the movie's surpassing influence.

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By reading it before, I was thinking of Karl Marx. The basic framework is

there, though not the details and the visualization of the future. H.G.

Wells wrote about many of the same themes prior to Metropolis. Lang

added am impressive visual flare and set design to the old hat story.

To me that's what makes the film stand out.

 

It is reported that Hitler was a big fan, but for all the wrong reasons.  When the rubber met the road, Lang fled Germany, but Thea von Harbou (credited with the screenplay) chose to stay behind.  I have read that a common thread of Lang's films is they serve as a warning in some way or another, and I would agree with that. 

 

The striking visuals are his trademark.  There have been some who admittedly copied the visual aspects of Metropolis.  In the Forbidden Planet extras, George Lucas talks about his influences for Star Wars, and the first thing he admits is that C3PO was based on Maria.  Furthermore, there couldn't be any more exact an imitation than an early 1980s Madonna "music" video.  "Express Yourself" clearly copies the underworld view of Metropolis during the Moloch sequence.  At the end it has a paraphrased version of the same message shown at the end of Metropolis.  There are even more similarities between Metropolis and other music videos, but I will leave it at that.  Maybe some of the handlers in the music industry are Marxists or favor the idea?  Just a thought anyhow.

 

Personally I don't think it is meant to take one position or another, it is just meant to get the viewer to think.  It is a warning of sorts...  In the end, neither side really "wins" nor "loses".  There is no hint of compulsory redistribution of wealth.  It is the mediator who wins, he gets the two sides to at least begrudgingly shake hands.

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It is reported that Hitler was a big fan, but for all the wrong reasons.  When the rubber met the road, Lang fled Germany, but Thea von Harbou (credited with the screenplay) chose to stay behind.  I have read that a common thread of Lang's films is they serve as a warning in some way or another, and I would agree with that. 

 

The striking visuals are his trademark.  There have been some who admittedly copied the visual aspects of Metropolis.  In the Forbidden Planet extras, George Lucas talks about his influences for Star Wars, and the first thing he admits is that C3PO was based on Maria.  Furthermore, there couldn't be any more exact an imitation than an early 1980s Madonna "music" video.  "Express Yourself" clearly copies the underworld view of Metropolis during the Moloch sequence.  At the end it has a paraphrased version of the same message shown at the end of Metropolis.  There are even more similarities between Metropolis and other music videos, but I will leave it at that.  Maybe some of the handlers in the music industry are Marxists or favor the idea?  Just a thought anyhow.

 

Personally I don't think it is meant to take one position or another, it is just meant to get the viewer to think.  It is a warning of sorts...  In the end, neither side really "wins" nor "loses".  There is no hint of compulsory redistribution of wealth.  It is the mediator who wins, he gets the two sides to at least begrudgingly shake hands.

 

 

Thank you for your acute remarks.  Metropolis is neither socialist (H. G. Wells), or communist (Marx) in inspiration or derivation.  Neither Wells or Marx presented a futurist dystopic vision.  Although there may be some resonance in the themes of exploitation and authoritarianism in the movie and the novel, the core of the story is a parallel-ish retelling of the Christian myth--note the crosses and catacombs. Only this time, the mediator/savior gets the girl--and its the 'girl' who gets sacrificed.  The class divisions in the movie resemble more the aristocracy/peasantry divide of pre-industrial Europe, and what happens to that in an industrial situation.

 

As I said before, it would be difficult to over-state the influence of the movie, not only for its visuals (which are ground-breaking and stunning), and not only on other movies and visual media.  Its vision of human society has entered our mainstream thought.  A large part of how we understand our relation to industrialism has been shaped by it.

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The struggle between the workers below ground and the rulers

above it can certainly be seen as a parallel to the class struggle

of Marxism. Similar to parts of Wells' The Time Machine too. Not

that von Harbou was necessarily influenced by either one, but it

is a possibility. Either way, as a story it's not all that original. And

again, the idea of the exploitation of workers by their bosses is

straight outta Marx.

 

Again, and for the last time, as this is devolving into the same roundy-round of people not wanting to be convinced, and wanting to get in the last word.  You avoid the core of Harbou's creation, and focus on subsidiary elements to discredit the whole.  To note just a few of the heirs of Metropolis, there is Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451.

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Pretty good flick, but I've always found the visuals and the sets

more impressive than the story, which is rather heavy handed

and even silly at times. As Sir Alfred supposedly said, It's only

a movie.

 

I thought it was a documentary.

I feel like I was duped by Fritz Lang!

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  • 4 months later...

Wow, I'm sure it will be coming to the Eastman in the future. As stated earlier, Lang films are 3 dimensional on the silver screen, photographed so beautifully you feel sucked into the sets. Film at it's best.

 

I love the title of this thread!

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