Metropolis (1927)

metropolis poster

This image is really tall!

Metropolis is a funny film about funny people doing funny things. Such as, fly Bi-Planes. Create machine hookers. And move obnoxiously large clock hands into various positions to keep the water pressure from exploding nasty water vapor that can cause 3rd degree burns or instant death. Unless you are a robot. Essentially, it mirrors the modern world exactly! What a coincidence. Fritz Lang is a time traveler. Or a witch. Either way, there are only two options: Burn his corpse at the stake, you know, just for the principal of the matter. Or, get drunk and run around naked, stark raving mad, for no good reason, and sit down to watch Metropolis. Drunk. and Naked. Okay, skip the naked part. Let’s just watch Metropolis drunk and theorize on the nature of the time travel device/pagan black magic involved.

Another entry into my fascination with the ghosts of ancient Hollywood, this ancient science fiction spectacle is filled with ever more creepy looking ghostly ’20’s people, unaware that they will look creepy and ghostly within a century, and hilariously impressive for the day special effects. Was Fritz Lang the James Cameron of his era? Hello no. That analogy makes no sense at all. Fritz Lang was the Fritz Lang of his day, but he did have a knack for pelvic thrusting his strange, expressionist gooey creations upon the world with shocking and monumental effect, much like Mr Scrooge McDuck does today. What happens this time? Apparently some rich asshole, John Frederson, has total authoritarian control over the giant city and forces all the poor people into slave labor running large steam engines. Welcome to California.

Metropolis screenshot city

Modern day California.

The Rich Guy’s son Freder is playing with an ancient hot chick in his playground, when some crazy foxy looking woman storms in with a bunch of homeless kids and informs him that they are his brothers. Phew! Thought she was going to say that they were their kids, and that she’s come back for child support. That would have been awkward and uncalled for. All of this happens to the tune of composer Sergei Prokofiev‘s Montagues And Capulets, an excellently badass piece of 20th century classical music. All of you should hit stop on your wanky Bring Me The Horizon horse dung and listen to a real musician like Sergei instead. That’s what grown ups do, after all.

He follows her down into the working environment of the laborers. The machine explodes and lots of workers die, much to his horror and humorously primitive over-acting, common in all silent films. Also, he sees a vision of a giant monster named Moloch who eats people in the machine. Another good reason to be horrified. I appreciate the symbolism. Giant machine = Monsters. Wow, this guy has more in common with James Cameron than I first realized! Now he’s pissed, and cries about it to daddy, but daddy is more pissed that his son had to tell him about it instead of his employee. For this he fires him. Yup, sounds just like California.

Metropolis screenshot Moloch

Holy shit it's Moloch!

Even more pissed now, Freder recruits the former employee, right before he commits suicide, to help him free the slaves. Sounds like a good idea, but there is a lot of paperwork involved. They soon join forces with the foxy little resistance leader from before, who’s name turns out to be Marie.. played by foxy in her prime but unfortunately is now a corpse Brigitte Helm. She eventually turns into a robot because some crazy old guy named Rotwang hates her. Such is the politics of California. Damn, I’m really beating that joke into the ground. I’m starting to turn into the Nostalgia Critic! In text form! Oh god no. I’m clearly desperate for attention here. … ANYWAY.

So the crazy old guy, Rotwang, builds a robot intended to replace living workers. Give him 24 hours and he will make one that is indistinguishable from a person! Well, that’s it. I think I’ve figured it out. Fritz Lang IS James Cameron. He used his temporal displacement device to create a big electrical ball to travel in to the 1920’s, completely naked and armed with a billion dollars. It all makes so much sense!

metropolis screenshot groping

He REALLY wants to touch those. Very badly.

Eventually, Rotwang captures Marie and, using some raygun gothic mad scientist bullshit technology,  copies & pastes her image onto the robot, making it look just like her. During all the struggle and screaming, our hero Freder happens to be walking by Rotwang’s house at the most convenient time, and he hears her screams and breaks into the house to rescue her, only to fail against some locked doors.

They proceed to use her robot doppelganger to incite bullshit among the revolutionaries and everything goes postal. They also make her strip for a bunch of horny gentleman. Yay for sexbots! Thought that was a new development? Hell no. We’ve been fantasizing about sexbots since at least the 20’s, and probably earlier. Clearly it’s a prominent theme in the human condition, embedded amongst us all in the collective unconscious.

metropolis screenshot milf

RILF. I'll let you figure out what that stands for.

So the evil robot Marie leads the workers to destroy the machines and flood the city. The real Marie manages to finally escape from Rotwang’s robotic smut house and rushes into the worker’s city to save the children from the flood, where she reunites with Freder. They save the children from aquatic devastation and they make for the Eternal Gardens.

In the ensuing chaos, a mob finds fake robot Marie and decide to burn her at the stake after finding out what a bitch she was for making them flood their cities and kill their children. In the flames she melts off that bulky skin and reveals her shiny, inner robot-y goodness. Rotwang, fearing the mob will lynch him too for deceiving the crowd, chases real Marie up onto some roofs, where Freder notices and gives chase. In a climatic final battle that’s sure to give Avatar’s final battle a run for it’s money, Rotwang and Freder get into a good old fashioned scrap on the rooftops, which ultimately leads to Rotwang falling off to his death, creating a messy, gorey splattering against the pavement.

Having saved Maria’s pasty white ass, it’s clear that Freder is about to get laid an awful lot from now on. The hero gets the girl, and they share a kiss. John Frederson, witness to all this, highly shook up at seeing his son almost killed, and generally sick and tired and bored of being a rich, prickish asshole, decides to end the brutality and free all the slaves or whatever. What a ride! A silent, black and white roller coaster of a James Cameron film made in 1927. That slick, time traveling bastard. How does he do it?

This is a film every serious film fan should watch, purely for the
educational value. This was like, the Avatar of 1927, and it still looks pretty good today!* The production values are something lots of film students today probably couldn’t duplicate. This is a film that explores the bridge between the hand and the heart, so the title cards inform me. It’s all metaphorical, you know. That’s what the German Expressionist masterminds were getting at while they were chewing lots of fly agaric mushrooms. That’s what they do in Europe, right? If only Uwe Boll could get his hands on some of that fly agaric, he might gain the creativity to make better movies. Oh oh. I can’t believe I said that. Now he’s going to challenge me to a boxing match. Fuck it. Bring it on Uwe!

In 2008, film experts from Berlin, who were hanging out in Argentina for some reason, found a lost, more complete copy of Metropolis with lots of extra footage, and they played it to a bunch of more privileged people than me this year. I have not seen that version, so if this is missing some stuff, that’s why. No, this version is the “old” version that’s missing the Argentina footage. Oh well, maybe I’ll update this when I happen to catch it, which will probably be in several years. What should you do to wait in the meantime? Go watch Metropolis right now!

*Okay, so sometimes the analogy does make sense.

2 Responses to “Metropolis (1927)”

  1. Actually if it’s all the same to you, I’m gonna watch it naked.

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