Rainy Day Movie is a new feature here on Living With a Nerd. These will be short insights into movies that you should save for a rainy day, so that you can spend time after viewing to reflect on what you have just experienced. For the first Rainy Day Movie entry, we will be taking a look at the classic film Metropolis.
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is an unrivaled achievement in cinema history. Movies have been made with better special effects, better story, and better sets…but it would be decades before a movie as big and complicated as Metropolis was even attempted. The storyline of Metropolis is fairly basic, examining the divide between the elite and working classes in a dystopian/capitalist society. As a silent film, the storyline is not very intricate, however the visuals tell you all you need to know. Unfortunately, many versions of the film exist, with some scenes thought to be lost forever. Still, what remains intact will stay with the viewer long after the film has concluded.
Utilizing a wide range of visual effects, it is mind boggling how some of the scenes were accomplished. A set involving huge pistons moving at a constant rate with workers walking around underneath would presently be accomplished through some simple CGI and green screen…but, naturally, this option was not around in 1927. Amongst effects common of the era such as models and floating cameras, the Schüfftan process is one of the more inventive new technologies and techniques used in the filming; mirrors and live actors were set and adjusted to project the actor’s reflections onto small-scale sets. Frame-by-frame modifications were also used.
In addition to examining the relationship between workers and the upper class, the film also explores how technology has impacted daily life. From advanced transportation to buildings so massive they were once thought to be impossible, nearly everything in the daily life of Metropolis has been directly influenced by technology.
Like other silent films, Metropolis can be a bit slow moving at times….but next time you find yourself stuck inside on a rainy afternoon, you should definitely view this piece of history. Metropolis is about as unique as you can possibly get in the world of cinema; you need to watch this film.