USA Release date: 13th March 1927
Watched on Sky+ Wednesday 21st November 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
A film I first saw when I was quite young (a long time ago) but one I’ve been intrigued to see again. I should say, for the record, that this was not the extended version with the recently discovered footage added (sadly) – I am adding it to my Christmas list as I type (Region 2 - *hint*). It was surprising just how much of it I remember from all those years ago; I can only have been eleven or twelve at the time but it obviously stuck in the memory bank somewhere! Here’s an exceedingly brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Metropolis is set in a future where the rich live in great towers in the sunlight whilst the workers are kept in the dark below. One of the rich, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), son of the lord of the city, Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), wants to know more about those below. To this end he disguises himself and joins the work force, going to the catacombs below their city where a secret meeting is taking place. This meeting is led by Maria (Brigitte Helm) who urges patience and understanding amongst the workforce. Meanwhile Joh Fredersen meets with Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), the inventor, who has designed a robot that could be used replace the workforce. Hearing Maria’s words, Fredersen decides to have the robot made in her likeness so as to spur the workforce into revolution; just the excuse he needs to be rid of them. But has he thought his plan through?... I will leave it there or I may give too much away.
All the performances are excellent but I will give particular praise to Brigitte Helm, who actually plays five parts in this film. For me, it was the opposites of Maria that she plays with such skill; at one point she’s caring and understanding; the next, inciting a riot! Quite hard to get across without any sound. The look and feel of the film is just outstanding, given when it was made it is a tremendous achievement! The film also proves that special effects are nothing new; just look at the robot transformation scene and tell me that would have been easy to do in 1927! On the down side it does get a little too melodramatic (for my tastes) in places, but that’s only a minor glitch in what is without doubt and outstanding piece of work.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 9.6/10
IMDb Score: 8.4/10 (based on 62,671 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 98/100: (Based on 14 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 89/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 57,466 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Maria: "We shall build a tower that will reach to the stars!" Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they had thousands to build it for them. But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned. And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many - BABEL! BABEL! BABEL! - Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.
Man at Nightclub: For her, all seven deadly sins!
Maria: There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site for the 2002 restoration: http://www.kinolorber.com/metropolis/