Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich
In 2026 Metropolis is run by the wealthy industrialists who have enslaved the working class in an underground world. When Joh Frederson’s (Abel) son Freder (Fröhlich) is lured into the worker’s world, he witnesses a horrible accident and begins to have a crisis of conscience. Now he’s decided to trade places with one of the workers to better understand their plight. This decision leads to a bigger crisis when he falls in love with a prophetess (Helm) who threatens everything his father has worked for. As his father seeks to destroy the young woman and the people who have followed her, he also threatens the existence of all the working people in Metropolis.
Metropolis is a visually stunning film. Fritz Lang (M) essentially created the science-fiction film genre when he co-wrote and directed this epic film. The movie was produced in Germany at cost of five million Reichsmarks, making it the most expensive movie produced up to that point. The result is a large-scale epic that tells a tale of a futuristic world ruined by industry. This would also be a major building block for Lang, a director who made the transition to American films under his contract with MGM.
The acting in a silent film is all about body language and facial expressions. This movie displays great acting by all of the people involved. It definitely has a melodramatic feel, but that’s something common to most silent films. Brigitte Helm (L’argent), Alfred Abel (Phantom), and Gustav Fröhlich (Asphalt) do a great job as the three main characters. Lang also worked well with the massive number of extras that included over five hundred children.
Classic movies are often lost due to age and damage. The film wasn’t made to last for 100 years, and unfortunately this has cost us many of the classic films of the early years of movie making. Thankfully, this movie was saved through hard work and a lot of luck. Most recently a copy of this film was located in Argentina and allowed restoration work to be done that brought back a lot of missing footage.
If you’re a fan of classic movies and you haven’t seen this one, I think it’s a must-see movie. This puts early innovation on display as Lang stretched the technology and the art of cinema to the breaking point. This isn’t a short movie or an easy one to watch. I would recommend this for people who want to see some of the best early feature film-making. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.