Movie Review: Metropolis Restored (1927)
Fritz Lang’s classic silent film tells of a future dystopia in which the elite few who live in a shining city are supported by the low-class masses in the depths of the earth performing mundane jobs. Joh, the son of the mayor, becomes curious and goes to the slums below where he becomes infatuated with Maria, a peace-loving woman the masses look up to and adore. The mayor along with the sinister inventor, Rotwang, decide to steal her likeness for a robot in order to bring the masses back under control.
This classic film has inspired art, music, and other films for decades, so I suppose I was expecting something mind-blowing. Instead I found myself and my friend creating a drinking game to go with watching it, because it is just that ridiculous of a movie.
Now I have an appreciation for older films, including silent ones. What made the film disappointing had nothing to do with the trappings of the time–the overly expressive facial cues, the odd choice of dress, the exaggerated movements. It had entirely to do with the plot.
Supposedly the “moral” of the story is “between the brain and the hands there must be the heart–the mediator.” Ok, so, this whole incredibly unequal society is a-ok and the only thing that will work for everyone, it’s just that there has to be a mediator between the elite and the lower class? That’s a bit….depressing. One wonders why such a film has remained so popular for so long with such an awful final message.
Plus there’s the whole Maria and her double plot that makes almost zero sense. Although the robot double was supposedly made in order to make the lower class rise up to give the elite an excuse to be violent against them, her first task is to go to an elite club and dance sexually before the men causing them to abandon the women they usually sleep with. What does that have to do with anything? Why was that even included in the film?
In the end, I’m a bit baffled as to how this has remained such an inspiring classic over time. Although it wasn’t dull to watch, there was nothing mind-blowing about it. Overall I would recommend it to fans of silent films and those wondering what the fuss over Metropolis is all about, just don’t expect to be blown away by it.
3 out of 5 stars