So… yeah. It’s me. I’m back. It’s 2016. Day one.
Happy New Year.
So, one of our Christmas presents that the wife and I got for ourselves was a smart TV and a subscription to Netflix. So today, on the first day of 2016 I watched the restored version of the classic science fiction film Metropolis.
Metropolis is widely regarded as the very first major science fiction film. If you’ve seen a truncated version or the execrable Georgio Moroder new-wave soundtrack version released in the 80’s, then you really haven’t seen the movie. If you have Netflix already I can’t recommend it highly enough. Despite the fact that it is a silent movie and is hampered my the accompanying undercranked sequences, this restored version is a revelation.
The action sequences use techniques that will be familiar to modern audiences. Very early on, early filmmakers like Fritz Lang learned how to manipulate audiences with creative editing and musical cues. These techniques… the cinematic bag of tricks… haven’t changed much in the eighty-nine years since this film was originally released. Particularly in the climactic sequences when the underground city is being flooded and Freder is trying to rescue Maria from the deranged Rotwang on the roof of the cathedral, modern audiences will see familiar shots, editing and pacing.
Yes. the film is a bit clunky in some areas. Some obvious camera trickery won’t fool the jaundiced eye that is used to high end CGI, but even so some of the practical effects are surprisingly effective. Also the political message behind the film is quite dated. Also the seductive dance that is performed by Brigitte Helm as the robot Maria is probably the least sexiest dance performance ever.
Still, the film has an impact even today. I really can’t recommend it enough. If you have Netflix, check it out. It’s available on DVD at Amazon and it is worth the price.
Trust me. I went to film school. I’m a science fiction writer. That makes me an expert.