It took a blogathon for me to truly appreciate and admire a silent film. Growing up, the only silent films I can remember watching are Mel Brooks' Silent Movie and an Indian film titled Pushpak. I have seen Chaplin as well, bits and bobs on TV, never in entirety. So, when Lesya from www.eternityofdream.blogspot.com decided to run a "Speechless Blogathon" I took on the challenge, one that also resulted in me searching all around for a couple of weeks to lay my hands on a silent film.
As the title of the post suggests, Metropolis was the chosen one. It is a film that has been talked about in the film circuit on a regular basis. My first shock about the film was its length. This Frits Lang's masterpiece runs for a whooping two and a half hours plus (the restored version) which meant that I had to watch it in breaks over a couple of days. Nevertheless, the film stayed with me during the intermissions and its brilliance cannot be expressed, but I’m going to give it a shot anyways...
Metropolis is the story of a modern futuristic city built on the sweat and blood of the working population who has been living in the depths of the earth, under the city they helped built. The film is as much a commentary on society and mankind as it is a love story between the son of the city's planner and a girl from the lower strata.
As the playboy son (Gustav Fröhlich) of the city's planner (Alfred Abel) discovers the harsh realities of the how the city has stomped over the very people who built it, he begins a self imposed quest to become the "mediator" between the "head" (the rich who live a carefree life on the surface) and the "hand" (the workers).
The city of Metropolis has become a place where machines have taken over, metaphorically. They have become so important that man needs to be at the beck and call of the machines at all times, if not, then it can only lead to death and despair. With a revolution in the horizon, the film beautifully forms a tapestry of subplots; mystery, secrets, power, and anticipation of things to come that run parallel to the main plot.
A story about revenge, love, despair, hope, and the will to achieve, Metropolis relies, at times, on theatrical acting by the cast which makes dialogues unnecessary. Featuring gigantic set pieces and impressive special effects, it is understandable why Metropolis has stood the test of time and can be seen in a number of Top 10 lists of all time.
Another aspect of the movie that stood out was the music which brought to life the mood of the scene being enacted and changed seamlessly as the scenes changed from that of despair to joy.
Metropolis captivated me and kept me interested for its entire length. It glorifies the power of cinema in a form that we hardly see anymore, but one that is commendable and not easily achieved.
As the film finished I wondered what would happen if it was remade now, not as a silent film? Would it loose its point? Would the modern day special effects take away from the story?
Here's hoping we never find out, because this is one film that should be appreciated in its original form.
Rating 5/5 Stars