In 2026, the rich revel in the pleasures of the future as the poor are forced to live underground, working on the machines that power the overworld. A New Tower of Babel houses the man who rules over it all. This is the premise of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The film was revolutionary for its time, combining ancient philosophies with futuristic technology, including the idea of the “Middle Path.” The plot was a version of the Exodus story that touched on many ideas, including loyalty, love, and father-son relationships. There were some impressive special effects, and new concepts such as hydroelectricity and robotics were introduced. This movie is referenced quite often by the science fiction of today. Flash Gordon, one of Sci-Fi’s most popular shows this year, draws heavily from the world of Metropolis.
While revolutionary for its day, modern audiences will find Metropolis difficult to sit through. The film is silent, and requires a great deal of imagination to determine what is happening. Much of the original film has been lost, and the missing scenes have been replaced with summary text blocks. To my dismay, these often appear during action sequences. The pace is extremely slow, and characters may speak in pantomime for an entire minute, followed by one or two lines of text; however, the story is quite enjoyable, and leaves the audience with something to think about in the end. Overall, this film is not suited for most audiences; however, it is vital for any sci-fi lover to see it to understand the true origins of modern science fiction.
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