Top 100 Films #84 – Metropolis (1927)

 

image-w1280#84. Metropolis (1927)
Directed by: Fritz Lang
Written by: Thea von Harbou, Fritz Lang (based on Metropolis by Thea von Harbou)
Starring: Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Brigitte Helm

In 1927, Fritz Lang unleashed one of the most important, most ambitious science fiction films ever made.  Metropolis is recognized as one of the first works of the sci-fi genre, and continues to entertain and thrill audiences around the world. The epic story follows young Freder (Gustav Frohlich), the son of Metropolis’ master Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), as he joins the ranks of the city’s oppressed working class.  He meets a woman named Maria (Brigitte Helm), who serves as inspiration to the city’s working class citizens, inspiring them to rise up and take control.  Fritz Lang’s epic film spans nearly 2 ½ hours, but never feels too long or bloated – instead mesmerizing the audience with its incredible sets, inspiring and universally relatable message, and dazzling special effects.  Much of Metropolis was thought to be lost until 2008, when a large portion of the film’s missing scenes were discovered in an Argentinian museum and restored for the public. This new and nearly complete version of the film is the best possible way to experience Metropolis, making the already epic film seem even larger in scope and scale.  My personal highlight of the film has always been the performance of Brigitte Helm, who plays dual roles in the film – the innocent and inspiring Maria, and her mischievous, rebellious robotic counterpart.  Helm’s performance holds up to this day, and really stands out as being exceptional in a silent film full of typically exaggerated and larger than life performances.  If you’re a science fiction fan, you owe it to yourself to discover the roots of the incredible genre. Even with minor scenes still missing from the film, Metropolis is still a masterpiece nearly 100 years after its initial release – I can only hope that someday we get to see a definitive version.

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