Monday, 29 July 2019

Metropolis


“The mediator between the hand and the brain must be the heart”.  This is the epithet to Fritz Lang's masterpiece silent film “Metropolis".  



 Released in 1927, this is a story of  a distopian city of the future. In Metropolis, the working classes live and work in an underground city whilst the upper classes occupy a futuristic community of skyscrapers and gardens.
The film was noted for its groundbreaking special effects and its attention to detail. Studio sets were on a grand scale and many scenes were represented by large models.
Fritz Lang was an exacting director and filming lasted for 17 months from May 1925. Some short scenes took two whole days to complete.  For the sequence where the worker’s city is flooded, 500 children were brought in from the poorest parts of Berlin. They were required to work for 14 days standing in a pool of very cold water while numerous re-takes were ordered. A robot poses as a false version of the character Maria. When ordered to be burnt at the stake, the director required this to be carried out with real fire. The dress of the leading actress Bridgit Helm caught fire in the process.
New special effect processes were invented including a system of mirrors which gave the impression that the actors were inhabiting the model city.
After release, the full version of the film, which lasted for over two hours, was cut considerably by the distributors with further editing bringing the running time down to 90 minutes.  The original film was lost until in 2007, a full length copy was discovered in Argentina. Although in damaged condition, it has enabled the restoration of an almost complete version of the film. In the public domain, this may be viewed on YouTube.
“Metropolis” was much admired by Germany's emerging National Socialist movement and the Nazi party's propaganda minister hoped that the director would make films on their behalf.  Fritz Lang, however escaped to Paris shortly afterwards and later to the United States.

We have colourised a number of stills from the film and these are presented in chronological order. They do not attempt however,  to tell the full story of “Metropolis” 


Steam sirens signal a change of shift and the workers descend to tend to the machines that power the city.
The women of the Eternal Gardens entertain Freder, played by Gustav Fröhlich
Maria, played by Bridgit Helm, brings the worker's children to see the Eternal Garden. "Look !  These  are your brothers"
Freder walks through the streets of the Upper City. Note the posters in the style of the Bauhaus Movement, popular at that time.
 
Regimented groups of workers, uniformly clothed stand in the main square of the Worker's Underground City.

A lone man walks through the streets of the Upper City.
Maria addresses the workers at the Catacombs
A worker struggles to save the machine from destruction
                            
In the Cathedral, Freder confronts Death and the Seven Deadly Sins.


A robot takes on the embodyment of Maria.


Freder suffers from hallucinations


Death descends upon the city



















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