Thursday, 29 October 2015

Metropolis (1927) Film review

Fig. 1 Metropolis original
movie poster (1927)

Metropolis (1927) was directed by Fritz Lang, a German-Austrian filmmaker. Generally regarded as one of the most influential and pioneering science-fiction films of all time, Metropolis explores a futuristic world in which science and technology cause the downfall and despair of humanity. Lang's Metropolis has influenced many well-known films of today, such as Blade Runner (1982) and Batman's Gotham City.

Fritz Lang's primary source of inspiration came from the city of New York, from when he went on a short voyage with fellowman, Erich Pommer in 1925. Lang's set design confirms this as we are shown a panoramic shot of the city in the beginning of the film, displaying towering skyscrapers and great government buildings. In an interview, Lang stated that 'the film was born from my first sight of the skyscrapers in New York' and 'I looked into the streets - the glaring lights and tall buildings - and there I conceived Metropolis' (Minden and Bachmann, 2002).

Metropolis, just like Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) was filmed during Weimar Germany. Many events were taking place during the time in which the film was created. The most important being the removal of censorship by the Weimar Republic which led to a rise in artistic freedom. This resulted in a revolution in German cinema and art. Artists were suddenly permitted to express their creativity, no matter how sexual, political or rebellious their ideas. However, Germany was also recovering after World War 1. The political turmoil was reflected in artist's work, leading to the beginning of German Expressionism. It is therefore highly probable that Lang was influenced by the events happening during his time, therefore Metropolis is an example of German Expressionism, with its dark, highly stylised sets, dramatic camera angles and use of bold, menacing shadows.

As well as being influenced by New York architecture, Lang was also inspired by Gothic and art deco architecture, specifically with his use of towering spires and cathedrals, an example is shown in fig. 2.  The film also makes several biblical references, particularly Maria's constant reference to The Tower of Babel to highlight the great social divide between the workers and the rich and powerful.

Fig. 2 The Chrysler building in New York
City, inspired by Art Deco architecture
The film received a great number of positive critical reception and many critics regarded the film as 'a great technical marvel' (Hall, 1927) with its astonishing use of special effects. However, other critics like Hugenberg criticised the film for having a similar storyline to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Today, Metropolis is still regarded as one of the best films of the Silent Era and also remains in 'The 100 Best Films of World Cinema'. Lang's Metropolis has also inspired the fashion world, including some of the top fashion designers in the world such as Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci and Versace's Donatella.


Text sources:

Ahearn, W (2012) 'Metropolis' 1927 [online] At: (Accessed on 29.10.15)

Ebert, R (1998) Great Movie: Metropolis [online] At: (Accessed on 29.10.15)

Minden, M and Bachmann, H (2002) Fritz Lang's Metropolis: Cinematic Visions of Technology and Fear. New York: Camden House

Hall, M (1927) Movie review: Metropolis (1927) 'A Technical Marvel'. The New York Times

Hutchinson, P (2012) Future-proof: How Metropolis still inspires fashion [online blog] in: At: (Accessed on 29.10.15)

Illustrations list: 

Fig. 1 Metropolis (1927) [Poster] At: (Accessed on 29.10.15)
Fig. 2 Chrysler building, New York At: (Accessed on 29.10.15)


  1. Thoughtful, concise review, Sky :)

    Just make sure that your bibliography is organized in alphabetical order - this becomes more important when you have lots and lots of sources to reference.

    1. Thanks, Jackie :)

      I'll keep that in mind for my next film review.