Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blu-ray Spotlight -- Metropolis

Today I would like to highlight Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi opus, Metropolis. While this movie is very hold--hell, it's positively ancient--it is also one no self-respecting science fiction fan should miss. I recently picked it up at Barnes & Noble, and I heartily recomend every sci-fi fan see it at least once in their life.

The story deals with the titular city Metropolis, a glittering massive paradise--at least, for those priviledged few who live in the upper part. The lower class citizens who live below the surface must toil day and light to keep the city running. Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, the, uh....I guess he's the mayor of Metropolis...Freder one day discovers the horrible reality of the conditions in which the workers must work. Freder quickly sides with the workers, much to the chargrin of his father, and meets Maria, the beautiful prophetess who gives hope to the workers by preaching the arrival of a mediator who will bring peace to Metropolis. Rotwang, a local inventor, has created a humanoid automaton, and Joh Fredersen tells him to make his Machine-Man look like Maria so the doppelganger can destroy the hopes of the workers once and for all. Rotwang agrees to the order, but secretly has his own agenda to crush Joh Fredersen; apparently they were once rivals for the affections of Hel, Fredersen's wife and Freder's mother. Freder discovers the android double and races to prevent the destruction of Metropolis.

Since it was made in 1927, it is a silent movie and therefore uses dialogue cards to convey what the characters are saying. The problem is that there is so much talking in the movie and most of the characters' speech does not have accompanying text, so you have to infer what is being said based on the context. Also, much of the plot is merely hinted at, so we can only guess what happened in the past between Joh Fredersen and Rotwang the inventor. This may have to do with the fact that parts of the original reel were lost long ago.

The visual aspect of the movie is hit-or-miss due to the degraded parts of the original film. Parts of the movie look really good, and other parts are really grainy. Fortunately, the movie is very up-front about this, so you know what you're getting into beforehand. On the plus side, the artwork within the movie has easily stood the test of time. The pictures of Metropolis shown within the movie are highly detailed and fantastic. I'd love to hang them on my wall.

The one thing that is excellent all the way through is the music. The original orchestral score has been faithfully recreated and is top-notch. In fact, this is the kind of movie you'd want to buy the soundtrack to.

All in all, Metropolis is a little confusing, very weird and pretty awesome.

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