Metropolis - Film Review

Metropolis is a German expressionist film that was made in 1927 and was directed by Fritz Lang. It is a silent, black and white film which is recognized as one of the leading films within the science-fiction genre for films. The film is set in the future in a dystopian city and it follows the story of Freder who is the son of Joh Fredersen, the city’s ruler. The film describes the city as “A futuristic, visually compelling allegorical look at relations between capital and labor in a Big Brother society ruled by robots, antagonism and fear." (Ephraim Katz, The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1998) (1) The film is about Freder and Maria, who is from a family of poor workers, and how they attempt to bring together the divide between the two classes in their city.

The film opens up on a scene which shows the workers of the city shuffling from their homes to the machines which they work at all day. In this scene the workers have their heads bowed and they are moving in formation and when they get to the machines they all work in synchronization, as if they are mimicking the machines. Later in the film the worker's city is shown and it is portrayed as an industrial and highly structured area which could link in again with the way that the machines are designed, showing that even in their homes, the worker's lives are dictated by machines. (Figure 1)
Figure 1
At times a hand held camera is used to accentuate the mayhem of a scene and a example of this is when the worker's city is being flooded and there is the high risk of the children drowning, a hand held camera is used among the crowds of children to position the audience as if they were within that scene, experiencing the same fear and panic as the characters are.
Another scene where the camera is used to highlight the emotions of the characters is when Maria is captured by Rotwang the inventor, as a high camera angle is used to look down upon Maria, to make her look smaller and heighten her helplessness. 

Looking at Rotwang as an antagonist leads to other areas of discussion as during the film there is heavy emphasis on Christianity as the final scene takes place in a cathedral and Maria is shown as a Christian maiden, who guides and strengthens the workers through her faith and christian beliefs. Rotwang is shown to be living in a strange, gothic styled house which is positioned near the outskirts of the city, away from main society. In one of the scenes his doors are shown to have the star of David painted on them which could suggest that he is of Jewish faith. During the production of this film World War 1 had just ended, and Hitlers rise to power was beginning. By 1927, when this film was released Hitlers views towards people of Jewish faith have been spread and so having the villain of this film associated with a major symbol of Jewish faith and the protagonists related with Christianity, may be a link into the views and opinions of many of Germany's inhabitants of the time.

(1) Ephraim Katz, The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia (1998)
Found at

Figure 1: Metropolis: A Rare Film Programme for Fritz Lang’s Masterpiece (1927)


  1. Another thoughtful review Maddi :)

    Bear in mind that you need 3 quotes to back up your discussion; the one you have chosen is good, and you have embedded it time, let's have a couple more :)
    Also, a few more images would be useful, especially where you are describing the machine, for example.

    Keep up the good work !


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