Costumes make a character. Actually, all aspects of the mise en scenè make a character, but the costume adds just the right amount of character into a film. Many people watching the film Metropolis, may not notice the simple costume changes, or costumes on a certain character because the film is in black in white. However, when watching the film it is very noticeable that the workers down below the earth of Metropolis were filmed wearing dark, dirty, and unkept clothing. While the people above ground, living in the actual city of Metropolis are see wearing white, proper or classy entire. The use of the costumes also describes the separate class levels, which will be discussed below.
The opening scene of Metropolis shows a shift change for the workers. It is in this scene that the viewer is able to see the first costumes of the film. The workers are shown with their heads down, slowing walking in multiple lines to the depths of Metropolis to begin work. Their work attire is similar to a modern day prison outfit; a full workers suit, dark seen material, with a hat, and heavy work boots. Upon a closer look, when Feder, the main character of the film, goes down below to replace lives with a worker more detail in their costume is revealed. Georgy, the worker, has not only his name, but also a number to characterize his place. This again gives a resemblance to a prison, labeling workers by numbers and names.
When you take a look at the other spectrum, the residents of Metropolis, the color scheme changes. When the viewer is first shown the citizens of Metropolis they are viewed wearing all white, and with smiles on their faces. The viewer is also shown the people of Metropolis in suits and ties, the women is fancy lace dresses, and everyone is having a great time. As well when the viewer is taken to Feder’s father’s building we are shown the “boss” wearing a classic suit for work and the people working for the boss in work suits as well.
This difference in attire and costume, not only generalizes the characters, but it also creates a class difference that is created throughout the film. The film is simple, about a mediator for the city, a person to be the heart to connect the head, Feder’s father, and the hands, the workers under the ground of Metropolis. Now in the beginning the mediator is seen wearing upper class costume, but throughout the film he is shown in the worker’s costumes. It is not until the end of the film, when both the head and the hands connect, does it show Feder in a costume that represents both classes. He has been in a fight and his “proper” clothes are now torn and look to be dirty like the workers. This costume choice surprising brings together the film and the mise en scenè for the ending. Without the costume approach that is taken in this film, it would be harder for the viewer to recognize not only the story, but over meaning.