Metropolis (1925)

Creators

Thea von Harbou (writer).

Subject

Thinkers live well on top and hordes of manual labourers slave away in the hidden depths of a vast ultramodern city in 2026 CE.

fiction text

Adaptation:

Metropolis (1927) IMDb

Extent

Review refers to the 2001 (partly) restored version, after which more footage has been found.

Categorization

Science fiction, Christian allegory. Melodrama on ginormous sets.

Subject

A young thinker awakens to the plight of the workers but is unable to prevent a mad inventor from misleading the masses, channeling their fury by means of an android.

Commentary

Intensely moral, and ideologically suspect. The masses are very easily led and the central problem of the dystopia is identified as a lack of communication between thinkers and workers. At best, this can be read as a call for greater commingling for empathy, but it looks a lot more like blind faith in the motives of capitalism. Moloch from Cabiria (1914) has a cameo but the occultism is stripped from von Harbou’s plot, which was written for this adaptation.

References here: “The Plane Cabby’s Lucky Day” (1927).

fiction moving picture

Spin-off:

Metropolis (2001) IMDb

Creators

Kawajiri Yoshiaki (key animator, layout artist).

Commentary

Clearly an exercise in style over substance, with a plot (by Ōtomo Katsuhiro) even weaker than Lang and von Harbou’s 1927 script. It isn’t based directly on the older film but on a comic. Mediocre steampunk CGI, lax direction by Rintaro. It is nice to see Tezuka’s designs moving so fluidly, but this is no Akira (1988).

animation fiction Japanese production moving picture