‘Metropolis’ (1927) is a silent film from the German Expressionist movement, directed by the “Master of Darkness” himself, Fritz Lang. It is this week’s Throwback Thursday, where ScienceFiction.com takes a look at great works of science fiction from the past.
‘Metropolis’ was produced by Ufa (one of the principal film studios in Germany) and stars Brigitte Helm, Gustav Frohlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. It was filmed in 1925 and is considered one of the first feature-length science fiction movies.
The film takes place in the future where the rich live in giant high-rises and the lower-classes live underground, where they work tirelessly at machines that provide power to the city. The ruler of Metropolis, also known as the Master of Metropolis, is Joh Fredersen (Abel). He has a son Freder (yes, I know, Freder Fredersen) who falls in love with a woman named Maria (Helm) who hails from the underground section of Metropolis.
Freder (Frohlich) goes to find Maria and ventures to the lower section of Metropolis, only to discover the miserable working conditions of the city’s poorer classes. Freder switches places with a worker and attends a meeting led by Maria who states that one day a person will come who will unite the richer classes with the poorer classes.
Meanwhile, after finding out about this gathering of the workers, Fredersen and his frenemy, an inventor named Rotwang, go to spy on the meeting. Fredersen asks Rotwang to create a robot-version of Maria to unleash havoc amongst the lower classes.
While the original release is beautiful and creepy, I believe a special recognition should go to Giorgo Moroder’s 1984 rerelease.
Italian record producer, musician and DJ Giorgio Moroder restored the film, upped the frames per second and released it with the most (to borrow a phrase from this TBT piece) 80’s-tastic soundtrack ever, including music from Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, Loverboy and Adam Ant. Many film purists may scoff at Moroder’s release, but this version is fun, fast, dark and extremely haunting.
Multi-colored and sped up, the film also includes some of Lang’s preliminary sketches of the city, including various buildings and cityscapes. It adds a lot to the film, allowing the audience to gain a better visual understanding of the world of ‘Metropolis’.
If you have yet to see ‘Metropolis’, it should definitely be on your to-do list.