Friday, 18 November 2011

Space: Metropolis Review

Fig. 1

‘Metropolis’ (1927) is directed by Fritz Lang and is an Iconic film which was said to be one of the most influential films as it set any conventions for the sci-fi genre. The great city of Metropolis s is one in which those with money and power rule over those without and class and status decides how you live your life. The workers live underground in huge constructed towers and work for hours on end to service the machines that control the city above.

The film was made on the verge of the 2nd World War and offers a surprisingly accurate depiction of what was to come. “With his futuristic film, Lang anticipated the rise of Fascism in his home country, with its white clad elite and black clad slave labour.  Freder's vision of the M-Machine, Moloch (Aleksandr Sokurov used this name for his Hitler film), as the god of fire feasting on workers, is an eerie premonition of the Holocaust.” (Clifford, 2010) The man who resembled Hitler in this film is Joh Frederson, the man who oversees the city and ensures that everything is done to his liking. He keeps the workers underground like slaves and forces them to work until death. This is not that different to how concentration camps were run during ww2 and the flood at the end of the film could be seen as an interpretation of the wiping out of the Jewish people. 

There are many different issues in this film but the main one appears to be class, and the segregation of it. The film shows a clear difference of how the two different classes live, the workers, and the ‘thinkers and makers’. The privileged class lives a glorious city of architectural marvels and aesthetic delights built by a virtual slave class of workers, a literal underground society segregated in a sunless, joyless subterranean existence beneath the city. The visionary leader of this society, Joh Frederson (Alfred Abel), is an industrial mogul as authoritarian leader determined to keep the lower classes in their place.” (Axmaker 2010)  Again this idea of having one figure leading the rest of the people could be related to the depiction of ww2 and the Nazi style of ‘leadership’ in Germany. However it could also be a look at how those with money and power always have some form of control over those without , which still appears to be the case in modern day society, if not a slightly diluted version.

For many sci-fi films the futuristic civilization is often a depiction of the issues in modern living and Metropolis does this very well. “Metropolis fixed for countless later films the image of a futuristic city as a hell of material progress and human despair. From this film, in various ways, descended not only “Dark City'' but “Blade Runner,'' “The Fifth Element,'' “Alphaville,'' “Escape From L.A.,'' “Gattaca'' and Batman's Gotham City” (Ebert 2010) The same basic theme runs through each of these fictional cities where their design and the stories told within them can be associated with certain issues such as poverty, class, crime, violence and many other things which we are confronted with today.  Metropolis was one of the first films to do this and set a bench mark for how a futuristic setting can be used to bring up things which may be difficult to represent in a current setting.


Cliford, R (N/A) (Accessed on the 13/11/11)

Image List:
Fig.1 Metropolis Poster

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