I am a lover of classic films, black and White, silent with just the sounds of instruments and subtitles. The love of silent films is not for everyone, some have a hard time adjusting to not hearing talking. I find these films most intriguing imagining those actors and actress act out those roles, knowing that that they just have to look like they are speaking and subtitles will do the rest. I am sure it’s more involved than that, if you have ever seen the film Chaplin with Robert Downey Jr. as the great Charlie Chaplin (English accent).
The Film of The Future
Metropolis is a film from 1927 directed by fritz Lang, a story that considered a pioneer in science fiction films. Ladies and Gents this is where many of our films and stories came from. Although Science fiction the genre has been around for centuries beginning in ancient times fusing myth and fiction together, which is what it is today. From the books and films out there it is my belief Science fiction has not fundamentally changed, but has grown more graphic in how we wish to display and tell stories. We have some of the best films and books in science fiction, and I find this genre creative in the sense that you literally create something that doesn’t and can’t possibly exist such as in “Aliens” the film. But Science fiction has had some of the greatst pioneers to write it including H.G. Wells, one of my personal favorites.
Metropolis is an incredible film that I never grow tired of watching, there is actually two versions, one which has the original score and one that create with a pop soundtrack in 2010, both are great, but being a generation X-er I love the pop version the most.
The History is Just as Important
The film details Made in Germany during the Weimar period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, In a city called, what else “Metropolis” wealthy industrialist and business magnates and their top employees rein from high-rise towers, while workers work underground to operate the great machines that power the city.
- Alfred Abel as Joh Fredersen, the master of Metropolis
- Gustav Fröhlich as Freder, Joh Fredersen’s son
- Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Rotwang, the inventor
- Fritz Rasp as The Thin Man, Fredersen’s spy
- Theodor Loos as Josaphat, Fredersen’s assistant and Freder’s friend
- Erwin Biswanger as 11811, a worker, also known as Gyorgy
- Heinrich George as Grot, guardian of the Heart Machine
- The Creative Man
- The Machine Man
- The Seven Deadly Sins
- Brigitte Helm as Maria[Notes 1]
- Heinrich Gotho as Master of Ceremonies in Pleasure Gardens (uncredited)
There are a few main characters that you will get to know in this film, all I should are spectacular and although we have terrific actors and actresses today, these actors really had no sound or a voice to convey the message of what the characters where going through. The following characters/cast include:
The Story of Freder and Maria
Joh Fredersen is the city’s master. His son Freder idles away his time at sports and in a pleasure garden, but is interrupted by the arrival of a young woman named Maria, who has brought a group of workers’ children to witness the lifestyle of their rich “brothers”. Maria and the children are ushered away, but Freder, fascinated, goes to the lower levels to find her. On the machine levels he witnesses the explosion of a huge machine that kills and injures numerous workers. Freder has a hallucination that the machine is Moloch and the workers are being fed to it. When the hallucination ends and he sees the dead workers being carried away on stretchers, he hurries to tell his father about the accident; Fredersen asks his assistant, Josaphat, why he learned of the explosion from his son, and not from him.
Grot, foreman of the Heart Machine, brings Fredersen secret maps found on the dead workers. Fredersen again asks Josaphat why he did not learn of the maps from him, and fires him. After seeing his father’s cold indifference towards the harsh conditions they face, Freder secretly rebels against him by deciding to help the workers. He enlists Josaphat’s assistance and returns to the machine halls, where he trades places with a worker.
The film follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city master, and Maria, a saintly figure to the workers, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes in their city and bring the workers together with Joh Fredersen, the city master.
In the film it’s a powerful story of the wealthy who only wish to use the workers to keep the city going, as they work themselves to death. As the workers work, the rich play. The story centers around a Maschinenmensch, which is a gynoid, a female android, who is made from a image of a real women, which she uses her power of percussion and sexuality to entice the men , attempting to control them in which one scene she dances in a very risque bra and shirt, but for 1927 this would be considered scandalist. Maria had a great deal of influence to the workers. In the film, she was basically copied to give the illusion it was her, but wasn’t because she was robot could be controlled
Today’s Representation of Yesterday
I look at today as a example, that really not a lot has changed for centuries, there seems to be always one group attempting to control those around them and those who are vulnerable such as the poor. In the film workers believe are slaving away attempting to keep the city going why the people above enjoy life. So you may ask well whats your point, that’s just the way things are , people have to work, to eat , to survive and many times we are at the mercy of those we work for. I see all too often, Although I live in the United States, land of free, that freedom comes at a huge cost, I am not talking about politics, just what it takes to survive in the big city.
History is a great indicator of what is to come, but it seems year after year the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer, while costs continue to sky rocket out of control for those just trying to survive. It seems each day we hear about a new millionaire or billionaire. Which many of you who read this may say, well I don’t care about that, who cares, those people started companies, invested their money, they are fiscally responsible and that was their reward for their hardwork.
To the extent you would be correct, we can all start a company, think of a great idea , market it, sell your idea and products to the highest bidder and become fifthly rich. I always wondered where that term fifth rich came from, those people are not necessarily dirty people, but probably just means that they so much money they know what to do with.
The Prediction’s Continues
I ask myself, if this film was made in 1927 and clearly depicts the wealthy still reminiscence of today, it’s amazing this film was almost like telling the future. I am sure back in 1927, it was probably implausible that a society would be that way. I can only imagine if we went back in time, if we could tell those in previous centuries what our society is like too. Again not all bad, we have modern medicine, technology, industrialization and we continue to grow and change in to a new society.
I encourage you to watch this film, breath it in, enjoy and look the similarities of that film to today. Now we may or may not have people work under ground to keep the city going, but we do have people, little people who make the world turn and without them we would no where. I am grateful for those who do jobs no ones wants to do and keeps society maintained in a way to prevent sickness or death, such as those pick up our garbage, those who keep our electrical grid going, those who make sure our water is somewhat drinkable.
For those who have seen this film, watch it again, study it if not just for the culture significance but for majestic way this film infuse science fiction into a great story and dynamic actors and actresses. I think we should think critically too about if we were to make a movie today to show those in the future what kind of film would you make. This film by Fritz Lang had vision of the future, what is your vision? As a writer we are called to visionary’s of the unknown, of the unseen for those who will one day see or read our work. It definitely encourages me to write and think about what has society not read or seen.