Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Yesterday me and Anders saw Metropolis at the Broadway. I'll be honest, I really wasn't sure about going. In fact, I was chatting to Nick on the phone just before, declaring "I don't even like songs without words and they're only 3 minutes long!" I had reservations about the length of the film and the length of time it could hold my attention for without any dialogue. In fact I loved it. It was fascinating and beautiful and I barely missed the dialogue/ ambient sounds (footsteps, doors closing etc) after the first 5 minutes. It was definitely a bit long though and I definitely had a little cat nap at the end. In fact as soon as we got home after I had to go to bed. I felt really drained, I think something in the focus and concentration needed for a film without dialogue with a pretty involved storyline just wiped me out.

The film is amazingly well restored which makes it a pleasure to watch - not like some grainy/scratchy/blurry old films. You could see the nuance of expression and it didn't feel too broad and over-acted because of that. Plus you could really see the details of costumes & sets and (even though it sounds silly) I really appreciated much more how people from the olden days (1927 to be exact) actually look pretty similar to people from nowadays. I think they always look so different in photos - stiff & still - that they feel really removed from me and my life. Seeing them crisp and clear moving and talking (silently) made it feel much more relevant for me. In fact, I thought the central male character was reminiscent of Johnny Depp & Ray Liotta.

There were some amazing things in it, and I kept wondering afterwards how much of the stuff we were seeing had been invented by 1927 and how much was sci-fi prediction genius from the director. 

For example, cars... I just checked, and they started being mass-produced in around 1910. Still, there were scenes with four lanes of traffic winding through the Metropolis, which just looked normal to me as a commuter, but in 1927 surely would have seemed a bit crazy?

The Empire State was built by 1931, so I guess the visual of this very tall, imposing, dominant city wouldn't be so unusual at the time. Still, if you were from a small town in England this would have been like Futurama looks to us now I reckon.

There's a scene where the boss of the city talks to one of his workers via telephone & TV screen - like the buzzer systems you get in flats. They were only just inventing television in the 1920s, never mind it being readily available in people's homes.

Finally then, here's the trailer:

And here's a clip I borrowed from Joey's blog, because it shows this incredible dance scene where the evil version of Maria dances and bewitches men into duelling and fighting. Check out how bewitched they are:

Plus you can see some of the effects Lang used, back in 1927 for chrissakes! They did stuff like combining miniature models of sets with real people using mirrors, with everything looking in perfect scale. They also did amazing scenes like the transformation (scene shown in the trailer) manually - exposing each individual piece of film as many as 30 times for shots which ended up lasting only about 10 seconds. Incredible.

I really enjoyed this as an experience at the cinema, and as an experience of seeing the result of lots of people's labours of love looking so beautiful up on screen.


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