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Metropolis 1927

Metropolis 1927

Kelly Peretz

Metropolis is a film about creating peace between social classes, and is explained by the epigram: The mediator between the head and hands must be the heart. In this futuristic world, the head is Joh Fredersen who designed the city. The hands are the thousands of laborers who worked relentlessly with their machines to make the city a bustling dystopia. The heart, and mediator is Freder, Joh Fredersen’s son, who discovers that there is a completely different world underground with the machines and makes a prince and the pauper-esque trade with one of the workers so he could see how the laborers lived after he was entranced with the laborer’s prophet, Maria. The film was made after World War I and directed by Fritz Lang.

The lighting was exaggerated to define each of the different social classes. The head, or wealthy citizens were shown in lighter settings accompanied with their graceful movements; show a carefree attitude about life. On the other hand, the hands, or laborers are shown in a darker scene and their movements were slow and methodical, as if they were becoming the machines they worked on all day. With their uniforms and orderly marching, the laborers acted like prisoners, which added to the theme of the laboring class being inferior to the upper class. The music played also distinguished class, with light and happy music in the Club of the Sons, and low, drudging music while underground with the machines.  There was also a lot of magic in this film, with the robot and Rotwang’s pentagram-strewn house, and presented a dark tone to the film which added to the evil presence given by Joh Fredersen and Rotwang as Fredersen conspires to defeat the laborer’s upcoming uprising.

I found it interesting how this society was supposed to be so futuristic with its machines and transportation systems, yet when faced with a problem of the past, (Maria/robot being accused of witchcraft), the citizens dealt with it in an archaic fashion: by burning her at the stake. Another note about the robot/ Maria is that there was a distinct difference created between her and the real Maria. For example, the robot Maria wore very dark makeup because the film was in black and white, and a lot of makeup during that time period meant that the girl was considered to be low-class or of loose morals. However, the real Maria wears no makeup and always wears her dress tied completely shut, which adds to her saintly character. Most of the characters in this film wore makeup because it enhanced the face of the character and better defined the face in the black and white film.

Because it was a silent film, the hand gestures and facial expressions of the characters were extremely exaggerated to better portray the action and reaction of the characters. Each emotion portrayed shown in both the movements of the character, as well as the face, so the characters make very broad hand gestures and their hands are virtually never static. The character that I believe is a model example of this is Maria. Her facial expressions are extravagant to almost a comical level, and her hands are consistently moving and raised to convey her many emotions.


3 responses to “Metropolis 1927

  1. I believe focusing on the aspect of the workers becoming more like machines with sharp movements and the upper class having more graceful movements was well thought out. Also, I did not notice that Maria was not wearing makeup and her robot counterpart was in fact wearing heavy makeup. I also noticed that the hand gestures and facial expressions had to be completely exaggerated to show an emphasis on the emotions of the film. I believe that actors of today have lost that ability to show such extreme emotion through the use of new technologies such as well developed cameras, audio capturing devices to record actual dialogue and special editing.

  2. rdflood ⋅

    I agree that because the film was silent, the gestures and expression were enhanced greatly. It is hard to communicate what is happening in the film when there is a lack of dialogue, so to make up for the silence, the actors exaggerate everything, which made their acting seem over-dramatic. I believe that Freder is another great example because throughout the film, any time he was shocked, his mouth would drop, his body would lean back, and his hand would flail around his face.

  3. Pingback: Metropolis (1927) | timneath

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