Metropolis: Father of Sci-Fi
What connects films such as Dark City, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Gattaca, Escape from New York etc. etc. One name and one film – Fritz Lang and his 1927 masterpiece Metropolis. It has written a number of rules on such themes as totalitarianism, German expressionism, camera angles, mis-an-scene, the use of shadows.
It is a Stanley-Kubrick-film before Stanley Kubrick, which is certainly observable in Kubrick’s homage to the film in Dr Strangelove. The films usage of special effects gave a wind in the back of future (no pun intended) sci-fi films which used miniature sets to bring something only human mind could think of, but still could not built. The mesmerizing usage of thousands of extras, all working and walking in unison has a mental effect on the observer, as we see that kind of robotic movement of the masses today, let alone during the totalitarianism of National Socialism and Communism.
The aesthetics of the film are so strong that, although, in reality, we still do not have that dystopian future depicted in the film, we can truly believe sometimes we had it or might have it in the not so distant future. The story in which the heights of the city are reserved for seemingly bourgeoisie layers of society with elevated motorways, gardens and stadiums, while below the surface, workers work as much as the (need) can and live in slum like conditions. No, Fritz Lang was not “reading in the future” with these observations, he was merely showing the “Marxist class welfare” and, being perfectionist as he was, showed how a material progress does not necessarily mean happiness but rather human despair.
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