Friday, December 6, 2013

Have you ever seen "Metropolis"?

This is a movie that I experienced for the first time in college.
It was a 1927 film that was considered early science fiction. When I first saw it was in the 1980s and it was considered an art house kind of movie. I remember watching it in Jeff Thompson's art class. Jeff was an experience. He taught me how to visualize art - I also learned spacial reasoning. Which for someone with poor vision in one eye and good vision in the other I am a walking eye strain. His classes helped me mentally figure out distances, packing and what looks right. "Less is MORE, less is MORE. Go with less. It is better art if you DON'T put it in."

Anyway, "Metropolis" was something that I always thought was too weird for me.
Then I saw it.
It wasn't weird. It was sad. It was a story about the plight of the workers and the uber wealthy living off their labors.

Winkipedia describes it like this, "In the future, wealthy industrialists rule the vast city of Metropolis from high-rise tower complexes, while a lower class of underground-dwelling workers toil constantly to operate the machines that provide its power. The Master of Metropolis is the ruthless Joh Fredersen, whose son Freder idles away his time in a pleasure garden with the other children of the rich. Freder is interrupted by the arrival of a young woman named Maria, who has brought a group of workers' children to see the privileged lifestyle led by the rich. Maria and the children are quickly ushered away, but Freder is fascinated by Maria and descends to the workers' city in an attempt to find her."

There is much more to it that this but really, it was a real eye opener for a naive college student- although those who knew me might think differently.
Some people were fascinated with the movie, the Art Deco, the use of tall buildings, the Biblical references to the Tower of Babel. There were references to the "red light" district in Tokoyo. It had the features of a total freak out weird movie, yet the stills and the silent part of it were what made the story more compelling.

I have hear there were remakes but I do not see how anyone could replace the orginal cast nor the un-computerized special effects which took more talent than we would ever see now.

The shooting of the 1927 movie was draining on the actors, the director, and the times.
This is working at the highest level to get the best out of the most and the people working it were largely unknown and had little prior acting experience. Maybe that is why it is so powerful or maybe it was this description by Brigette Helm (Maria):
"Helm recalled her experiences of shooting the film in a contemporary interview, saying that "the night shots lasted three weeks, and even if they did lead to the greatest dramatic moments — even if we did follow Fritz Lang’s directions as though in a trance, enthusiastic and enraptured at the same time — I can’t forget the incredible strain that they put us under. The work wasn’t easy, and the authenticity in the portrayal ended up testing our nerves now and then. For instance, it wasn’t fun at all when Grot drags me by the hair, to have me burned at the stake. Once I even fainted: during the transformation scene, Maria, as the android, is clamped in a kind of wooden armament, and because the shot took so long, I didn’t get enough air."
The website for the actual movie is pretty interesting. This link
is available but make certain you have a good computer. It was hard to manipulate.

There was lost footage that was located in Argentina in 2008 and the movie was re-leased with the cut footage in 2010. It appears that Lang himself was at a loss as to why anyone would be interested in a movie that was no longer available. Although it took awhile it appears that he was wrong. His movie was still out there. It just took awhile, and the right people needed to find it.


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