Metropolis is one of the greatest films of all time. Done. Review over–I’m out… Okay, maybe you don’t know the splendor of this film so I’ll give you some citations. It is one of the few films on Rotten Tomatoes to receive a 100% Fresh rating. Coming from how snarky this site is that is an achievement. It is or is one of the earliest feature length science fiction movies of the its type. It had one of the largest budgets of any film when it was made (taking nearly half of the annual budget or twenty films’ budgets to complete). There is still a loyal following.
The story would seem outlandish even by today’s standards and it was even more than a little improper (nearly nude dancing, smoking, and drinking) when it first premiered. It was and still is a masterpiece of accomplishment in practical filming effects. Lastly it still makes waves in the creative minds of young and old who view it.
Also–its my favorite movie of all time.
So what the heck is it (one may ask if they have never seen it)? It is an epic science-fantasy movie about the son of a city planner in a futuristic city who falls in love with an impoverished working class prophet. Through her teachings the city planner’s son becomes involved in a social revolution lead by evil robot created by a techno-wizard who threatens to destroy the entire city. By overcoming intelligence and muscle (working and ruling class) with heart, the city sees the joining of two previously un-mingled cultures come together.
Some wacky-packs believe that it is the owner’s manual for the illuminati initiates to learn how to subjugate society. However these people seem to have no grasp on the history of Germany at the time it was made (1927). The film is lousy with occult symbols that mixes Orthodox Judaism with Christian mysticism and even alchemic/Ptolemy symbolism that were a part of everyday life and art of the time. The film is filled with symbolism that is meant to make the viewer think more, not less. However, to anyone actually watching the film, it touches on a much more important topic: compromise.
To be short–it’s about finding a happy place between capitalism and communism, between atheism and faith, between working and ruling class, between pure fact and pure fiction, and between the privileged and underprivileged. So through all the magic, robots, masonic symbols, Nazism, and trippy scenes of Death and Time it is about finding balance in life and society (or at least agreeing to disagree). To reach these ends the means utilize fear, perversion,
The film had a profound effect on me when I picked up a copy in high school. It took everything I knew about science fiction and turned it upside down. It invigorated my creativity because it showed me how you could do so much with so little. What’s more, it taught me that you could make a spectacular story even with tired story-lines.
In many ways this film was monumental in guiding me toward becoming a writer, a dreamer, and world citizen. It sounds funny to give so much credit to a silly old movie, but that is what old films do to us. They open your mind, question your beliefs, and make you grow in incredible ways. That is why some dusty old film like Metropolis can still be important today–because it touches something deep inside us.
But that is why art–in any medium–is important. It has nothing to do with your personal taste when you view the art and has everything to do with how you will change and think after viewing art. Art, like being a nerd, is to change and grow and be curious about the world around you. Art is one of the ways you can be fulfil that need in your self to change and grow.
Think about it–if Metropolis hadn’t inspired people more than ninety years ago would science fiction and fantasy have their place in society today? Would we be getting movies like Guardians or Robocop on the big screen? Would we still be fighting just to have materials stocked on at least one shelf at a bookstore or library? That is the legacy of this film, no matter how controversial or how little money it brought in, it set the standard for science fiction and fantasy that is still the bar for contemporary creative society. It paved the way for the genres early in the twentieth century for later generations. And no matter what–it changed me; my art, my career, and my future.