Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Metropolis Review

This unfinished review has been deliberately submitted as to receive feedback on whether I'm on the right track in layout, content and that the Harvard Method is being used successfully.

Metropolis Review by David McCleery

I have recently seen the silliest film. I do not believe it would be possible to make one sillier. And as this film sets out to display the way the world is going, I think [my book] The Way the World is Going may very well concern itself with this film.
It is called Metropolis, it comes from the great Ufa studios in Germany, and the public is given to understand that it has been produced at enormous cost.
It gives in one eddying concentration almost every possible foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general served up with a sauce of sentimentality that is all its own.
H.G. Wells on "Metropolis"
The New York Times.
Published April 17, 1927.

The Way The World Is Going. H.G. Wells 1928

It just goes to show the sign of the times in 1927 towards possible future concepts, but who could have predicted the vital creative influence Fritz Lang’s silent black and white Sci Fi epic would have for the future of Sci Fi productions.
Metropolis has become one of the main reference archives to which many directors, concept artists and special effect pioneers have delved into over the years for their own inspirations and visions. This huge budgeted masterpiece has stood the test time and beyond.
Below is an exert from a review by Bryan Young submitted to the official Star wars site on August 18th 2014

For anyone who has ever looked at the poster for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, it’s quite clear that it influenced Ralph McQuarrie’s designs and paintings of See-Threepio.
 The machines of the under-city seem to do something, but their workings are almost absurd. With the juxtaposition of shots that seems much more careful in silent films that today, it would not surprise me to learn that George Lucas had studied the film to crib Lang’s editing and special effects techniques. One of the things George Lucas is best at is making you believe the machines being manipulated on screen are real and work when operated by characters and since Metropolis seems to be the first example of this in cinema, it seems like an easy thing to connect those dots.
The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Metropolis By Bryan Young 

Star Wars Concept Art by Ralph McQuarrie 
Behind the Scenes // AUGUST 18, 2014 
Inset is Fritz Lang’s robot woman from Metropolis 1927

This exert from a review by artist and designer John Coulthart highlights the similarities very well between Blade Runner and Metropolis

These shot comparisons aren’t exactly news but they’ve become more evident since rewatching the restored print of Metropolis. Among other things, the rediscovered footage yielded a scene with a character reading a newspaper that’s a match for Harrison Ford’s first appearance. The similarities extend, of course, to the thematic: futuristic megacities, flying vehicles, the creation of artificial human beings. Both films also end with a struggle to the death on the roof of a building. The cinematographer for Blade Runner was Jordan Cronenweth; Metropolis was the work of Karl Freund, Günther Rittau and Walter Ruttmann.
By artist and designer John Coulthart
Blade Runner vs. Metropolis Apr 13, 2015

Nick Lang was an expressionist pioneer who was clearly well ahead of his time in this 1927 film about a futuristic city loosely based on the biblical story of the tower of Babel.

Under the tyrannical rule of overlord Joh Fredersen from his tower of Babel, the futuristic city is an opulence of wealth and success. Bellow ground in the catacombs is a different story; amongst the grime of the mechanical mayhem in the machine room, the depressive workforce, who are nothing more than slaves to system, live a repressive and isolated existence from the plentiful world above. The segregation between the rich and poor in this lavish production is substantial.
Lang’s own references have clear links to religion as this flamboyant film bares a few similarities to the bible. Salome and the dance of the seven veils becomes Robot Maria’s dance of seduction and enticement. The Garden of Eden is re-created as the Eternal Gardens and the Tower of Babel is named the New Tower of Babel.

Beneath the ground, Maria, is their one symbol of hope, a saintly figure, a leader in which the workforce all revear. She’s a bright and clever woman with a deep understanding of their hardships and depression. The workers are guided by Maria, who is desperate to find a mediator between the upper class above and the workers bellow so their plights may be heard.
It’s when Johhan Fredersen’s son Freder and Maria first meet in the Eternal Gardens where Maria appears from bellow, leading a group of poor undernourished children to the surface to pleed for help. Freder becomes so infatuated that he ventures deep into the machine room below against the wishes of his powerful father to find her. After discovering the poverty and isolation in the depths, he’s appalled at the conditions and gladly offers to swap places with a tired and exausted maching worker.
In his discust, Fredersen approaches an old colleage named Rotwang, an outcast but brilliant inventor with a lust for revenge. His finest achievement is in his creation of a robot in a female form. In his desperation, she was invented as a replacement for his lost love Hel who chose to be with Joh Fredersen instead of him and then died while giving birth to Freder, Joh’s son.
His lives in an old run down house in the middle of Metropolis with a shape and rough textured exterior that contrasts the smoove futuristic designs of the city that surrounds it. 
When Federsen approaches Rotwang with his proposal of revenge on the workforce, Rotwang had his opportunity to fulfil his vendetta with Federsen.


  1. Hi Dave - this isn't about the content - this is about the formatting; some quick reminders:

    1) Always title your blogposts! 'Untitled' doesn't help readers know what they're clicking into.

    2) Rationalise your typeface - take a look at your review; you've got different sized font, fonts in bold etc. It looks like you're bringing in formatting from other sources - so to neutralise your formatting (and thereby ensure that all font sizes are the same etc) select the text and click on the little Tx button - this will return all type back to 'factory settings' allowing you to format it yourself.

    3) Rationalise your alignment of text: right now, you've got text aligned to the left and lots of text aligned centrally; either align all text left or justify your text (these buttons are identified by little black rows - the one with the black rows spanning the full width of the button means 'justify').

    I think there is LOTS of great content here, but your formatting makes your review very 'bitty' and it appears much less organised and 'cared for' than it is. Re-edit this post, get it looking more orderly and controlled, and then I and others can focus on the content etc.

  2. Hi Dave,

    Yes, everything Phil said!

    I can comment at the moment on the use of the quotes; you need to make sure that they are set within "..." and are italicised, to set them apart from your own writing. (The first paragraph, for example - it is not clear that this is a quote attributed to Wells). You then need to reference the quote directly afterwards with the author's surname and the date, so (Wells, 1927).

    If you find that the quote you want to use is too long in its entirety, you can take bits out and replace them with ..., but you should try and make sure that what is left still makes sense.

    Label your images 'Figure 1' etc as well as the caption, as then you can refer to them within the text, for example, 'The Garden of Eden is re-created as the Eternal Gardens and the Tower of Babel is named the New Tower of Babel, as seen in figures 6 and 7 below.'

    You can get the full info on how to format the bibliography using Harvard here -