|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
Ahearn, W (2012) 'Metropolis' 1927 [online] At: http://www.williamahearn.com/metropolis.html (Accessed on 29.10.15)
Ebert, R (1998) Great Movie: Metropolis [online] At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-metropolis-1927 (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: theguardian.co.uk At: http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2012/feb/27/metropolis-inspires-the-fashion-world (Accessed on 29.10.15)
Fig. 1 Metropolis (1927) [Poster] At: http://scifimoviefilms.com/unique-posters-metropolis-1927/ (Accessed on 29.10.15)
Fig. 2 Chrysler building, New York At: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chrysler_Building_1_(4684845155).jpg (Accessed on 29.10.15)