Metropolis (1927)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Metropolis</strong> (1927)

(Kanopy Streaming, October 2018) There’s a good case to be made that Metropolis was one of the first (if not the first) attempt to cohesively portray a future and, as such, earns the crown of being the first feature-length science-fiction film of note. Yes, I know about Méliès’s Un Voyage Dans la Lune—but it’s a short, and it’s strictly focused on one specific idea, whereas Metropolis shows us an entire future, restrained to a town but filled with texture and details. The vision shown here by Fritz Lang is ambitious and expansive—you see some of these shots and can almost hear Lang pining for CGI. It’s a film that tackles a thicket of issues from mechanization of labour to human/robot romance, adding to the sense that we’re watching something more than just a simple adventure story set in the future. For modern viewers, it’s impossible to deny the frisson of concern given by some of the film’s sequences, knowing what we know about where 1927 Germany was headed a decade later. (Of particular note here is the all-Caucasian vision of the elites in the film. Try not to squirm when you see the role played by the film’s darker-skinned actors.) Still, Metropolis itself remains a masterpiece even ninety years later: Imaginative, influential, and still a yardstick for good science fiction.

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