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Metropolis (1927 movie)

Metropolis is a black and white silent science fiction film by Fritz Lang. It is widely regarded as a masterpiece.

The film is set in the extraordinary Gothic skyscapers[?] of a corporate city-state, the Metropolis of the title. Society has been divided into two rigid groups - one of planners or thinkers, who live high above the earth in luxury, and another of workers who live underground toiling to sustain the lives of the privileged. The city is run by Johhan 'Joh' Fredersen (Alfred Abel[?]).

One of the workers, the beautiful Maria (Brigitte Helm[?]), takes up the cause of the workers. The son of Frederson, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich[?]), becomes infatuated with Maria, descends into the working underworld and, shocked, joins her cause. To counter this threat his father has The Robot built by the scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge[?]). The Robot is given Maria's appearance and is directed by Joh to spread disorder and so allow the workers to be crushed.

The film climaxes with an attack on the upper world, foreshadowing the "destruction of the enemy in the citadel" ending still seen in films. But through the intervention of Freder, Joh and the worker's leader are persuaded to reconcile their differences and work together - an anti-Communist gesture.

The film features special effects and set design that still impress modern audiences with their visual impact - glorious expressionist design and geometric forms. The effects expert was Eugen Schüfftan[?] who did sterling work on the enormous set.

On January 10, 1927 the film premiered in Berlin and a badly-edited version was released in the United States in March of that year. Following the bankruptcy of the filmmakers, the American print seems to be the only extant copy.

Several restored versions (all of them missing footage) were released in the 1980s and 1990s, running for around 90 minutes. A 147 minutes, digitally restored version was released in 2002 by the F.W. Murnau Foundation. It is believed that the original film was over 180 minutes.

Note: most silent films including Metropolis were shot at speeds of between 16 and 20 frames per second, but the digitally restored version with soundtrack plays at the standard sound speed of 24 frames per second, which often makes the action look unnaturally fast. The reason for the decision to show the film at this speed is not clear. In the 1970s the BBC prepared a version with electronic sound that ran at 18 frames per second and consequently had much more realistic-looking movement.

Thea von Harbou[?], Lang's wife, published a novel, Metropolis, which was published in an English translation in 1927.

External Link

  • Metropolis web site (http://www.persocom.com.br/brasilia/metropo.htm)
  • Metropolis page (http://www.unesco.org/webworld/mdm/2001/eng/germany/metropolis/intro) at the UNESCO Memory of the World Register

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