Metropolis: This Silent is Goldenby Art Jacobson on Jun. 27, 2010, under Arts and Entertainment, Politics
If you are a movie buff and haven’t seen Fritz Lang’s amazing 1927 silent film “Metropolis” you have a wonderful opportunity at the University of Arizona museum of Art.
The film is being shown, accompanied by an extensive exhibit of art from the Twenties and Thirties that was influenced by Lang’s visual imagery, through October.
The central theme of Metropolis is the alienation and dehumanization of industrial workers in a system that is described as without heart. Lang’s scenes of the industrial workers reduced to automatons by exhausting and repetitive work are the opening scenes of the film.
If any one artist is responsible for the iconography of the great modern city, it might arguably be said to be Lang. He visited New York City in 1924 and made the following comment:
“The City was the crossroads of multiple and confused human forces (irresistibly driven) to exploit each other and thus living in perpetual anxiety.”
Metropolis is generally acknowledged to be a technical masterpiece with a weak and sometimes confusing plot. To some degree this is due to the fact that the film was cut and re-edited a number of times for different national audiences and to make it conform to distributors’ preference for movies that were no more than an hour and a half long.
A virtually complete version of the original is now being lovingly pieced together and restored from versions found in film archives around the world.
The influence Lang’s imagery stretches well into our modern film era. As the marvelous notes for the Metropolis exhibit remind us:
George Lucas asked Ralph McQuarrie to base the design for the Droid C-3PO on Rotwang’s robot.
The Tyrell Building in Blade Runner is based on the New Tower of Babylon in Metropolis.
Much of he design for Tim Burton’s Batman was influenced by Metropolis, and the climactic cathedral scene parallels almost exactly the cathedral scene from the older film.
An extensive brochure on the show is available for download and I highly recommend it. Click
Show hours are:
Tuesday through Friday: 9am, 10:30, 12 noon, 1:30, 3:00pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12:30pm, 2:00pm
If you are a University student, faculty member, or member of the museum there is no charge. For all others the charge is $5 dollars…and well worth it.