Sunday, October 31, 2010

Metropolis (1927)

Happy Halloween everyone!

I gave it a good try to attempt to horror-ify my posts in honor of this month but alas outside responsibilities demanded my utmost focus and attention.

I will end the month with a movie that I just recently watched that has been stuck in my mind. This movie was amazing, dark, exciting, and oddly enough disturbing. It's a movie that is referenced in movies, novels, and general geek culture. Crazy thing is, this movie was made in 1927!

"Metropolis" is a german silent movie that deals with human communication, love, and robots. That's right, ROBOTS. There is also alot of reference to Babylon and other biblical references which I didn't get at first which really annoyed me.

Here's how the story goes: there is an upper city, where the rich walk and play, and a lower city, where the workers live and toil. There is a main Rich man who runs the city and his Naive son. The Naive son falls in love with a saintly woman named Maria who resides in the lower city. As he chases after her, he discovers the harsh world of the lower city and empathizes with them.

There is a pretty scary part where one of the workers dies as he is working the main machine. The main machine then turns into a hungry temple where people are led to it's hungry mouth. Without any preparation, it becomes a pretty scary scene. It was pretty confusing and shocking.

I guess it's the film during that time but the graininess and jerky movements of the actors is just plain scary! Especially when your sick out of your mind and watching the movie in the pouring rain. And you have a fat black cat that insists on digging her claws in her leg at every scary moment.

Anyhoo, the Naive son is touched after hearing a rousing sermon by Maria to the workers to wait for the "mediator". The workers are fed up with endlessly working and are ripe for a riot. Only the calm word of Maria convinces them to wait.

Which brings us to the main lesson of the movie: 'The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!". The hands are represented by the workers and the head is represented by the Rich Man.

Meanwhile, the Rich Man meets with a mad scientist named Rothwang. The connection between the two is that the Rich Man married Rothwangs daughter,Hel, who just passed away. In his grief, Rothwang creates a robot in the hopes of capturing Hel's essence.

The Rich Man finds out about Marias sermon and demands Rothwang to take care of her. Rothwang then kidnaps Maria and then inserts her likeness into the robot.

That part just plain confused me. Maria was helping by calming the crowd. Without her as a buffer, anything would spark the workers into a frenzy. How was it going to benefit the Rich Man by wiping out Maria? Dumbass...

So begins a double cross scheme. Rothwang uses the Fake Maria to lead the Rich Man to believe that she is following the Rich Man. The Fake Maria then begins to destroy the solidarity of the workers and corrupts the rich men.

The rest is just crazy, dramatic, and like I previously said disturbing. There aren't any jump scare scenes or gore. The horror comes with the atmosphere and tone of the movie.

The one part of the movie that has refused to leave my mind is the dream dance by the Fake Maria. She does this crazy, uncomfortable dance. It is just weird. Something about her chest seems a huge disconnect from her body. The actress, Brigette Helm, who played Maria/ fake Maria did an amazing job. In fact, this actress is who made the movie really mesmerizing for me.

With silent movies, the acting is often over exaggerated and dramatic to convey the emotions of the actors. You could easily differentiate the real Maria from the Fake Maria. I really loved how she played Fake Maria. Helm would distort her face and twist her body in an awkward way.

There is a reference to Babylon. I have no idea if I'm going to get this correct, but there was a fake pariah that the people followed which led to their doom.That's where Fake Maria comes in. The Fake Maria instigates the downfall of the city just like the Fake Pariah brings the Apocalypse. Right? I dunno.

Theres also a reference to the Naive heading to his fathers place which is the "New Tower of Babel". From what I know, Tower of Babel was supposed to be the epicenter of learning all the languages.

Communication is a strong thread in this movie. With every lack of communication, problems ensues. From the workers listening to the Fake Maria instead of reason results in the flooding of the lower city. Lack of communication between Rich Man and Naive son results in the Naive son placing himself in danger (which is a good thing later however).

This was my first silent movie so it was kind of difficult to get used to it. The orchestra movie was really beautiful and set the tone of the movie seamlessly. The movie is also split into parts so it's a pretty long movie to sit through.

I can understand why this movie was so powerful. It was way before it's time. Even though the movie was silent, the acting was pretty lowkey and to the point. It was just simply amazing and has not left my thoughts at all.

Plus, I think the Naive son looks like Gerald Way...

Happy Halloween everyone!

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