Metropolis (1926)

Article #99 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-23-2001
Posting date: 11-6-2001

An industrialist makes use of a newly invented robot to cause unrest among the workers at his factory.

First of all, I have to point out that my copy of this movie has the most godawful soundtrack I have ever heard; it sounds like someone slapped on the cheeriest good-time music they could find onto the soundtrack without the slightest care or any sense of appropriateness to the story. I have to turn the sound down completely, or the movie becomes unwatchable; it’s more palatable completely silent than with the music it has. It also runs about ninety minutes, and it’s in pretty ragged condition. All of which I mention simply to point out that these circumstances may very well color my opinion of what is generally considered one of the great classics of science fiction. When and if I encounter a superior copy of the movie, I will revise this review accordingly.

At any rate, that the movie is a visual treat is a given; the factory sequences are absolutely hypnotic, and the sets are stunning. It is simply one of the great visions of the future, and would be worth watching for this reason alone. I do have some problems with the story; the mad scientist Rotwang, though he is no doubt somewhat archetypal, seems to me somewhat out of place in the story, which is more concerned with social issues, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why Fredersen wants the workers to revolt. Nonetheless, both Brigitte Helm and Rudolf Klein-Rogge give memorable performances. Perhaps someday a better print will help me to give a fairer assessment to this movie.

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