Metropolis (1927)

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Exploring different ways of concept art in film and set design

Transcript of Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis (1927)

Director: Fritz Lang Cast: Gustav Froehlich(Freder), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Rotwang), Theodor Loos (Josaphat/Joseph), Heinrich George, (Grot- Foreman)

Metropolis tells us a story about a futuristic city in which, the working class and the rulers are divided into two groups. Even though the movie comes from 1927 it resembles todays modern life a lot, and the use of visual effects and set design was astonishing even to this day when the film is nearly 100 years old. Good example of very successful and well thought of set design is when we see the contrast between the city of Metropolis and the Eternal Gardens. When picturing the city of Metropolis we see a lot of buildings and 90 degree angles. The colour pallet is very grey and dull. Also everything looks the same, the windows are all the same size, very small and square, the workers lined up to enter the machine are all in the same uniform... Theres nothing there that isnt manmade. In the city all the buildings are built around the tower, which ends up being in the main view of the set, makes the viewer feel that no matter from which angle they look they will always see the tower as the main background.

The city of Metropolis

The Eternal Garden however, the set is made to look organic, people are happy and dancing. The contrast is vast, there are no straight lines or angles seen in the set, and even though the film is black and white as viewer we can imagine the huge colour pallet that would be used in this scene.

The set of the film resembles t Babylon, which is a city from the Bible in which people build a huge tower that would reach the heavens, after seeing them in such a madness god decided to create confusion and change their languages so they could not understand each other. To the new tower of Babel, to my father! the tower present in many religions gets mentioned by Freder after he witnesses the explosion in the depths. This is a very good reference made by the director to resemble Babylon and the people working for one mans dream One mans hymns and prays become other mans curses noted by Maria at the meeting in the underground chapel. Shows how one man could never be in charge of hundreds of people, trying to make his dream come true, as this stops those individuals of bringing their own wishes to life. Even the Eternal Gardens link to this story as they look a lot like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, from which you can see the tower.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon Speaking of the explosion in the depths, there was a very good use of special effects and how the machine morphed into a face, and how all the men were being swallowed by the machine. Very horror- like scene, amazing for the time it was made in. The fact how the workers were moving in repetitive movements made it resemble as if they were a part of the machine, the machine was controlling them, and then by the end they all been swallowed by it. Another good example of clever set design was when we enter Johs room in the tower, the way everything was set made it resemble a control tower, controlling

the machine and the lower class workers. From this point on the audience learns about the power Joh has over the Metropolis Father do you know what it means to be dismissed by you? IT means to go below and under to the depths! by the depths the director means the lower floors of the tower where all the lower class workers do all the hard jobs to feed the machines. By calling it the depths it makes the audience think of some sort of hell, and thats how the concept artist managed to capture it in the set which is very hell-like. These are very dark rooms deep underground, full of steam and exhausted people who spend their everyday lives feeding the machine. This is why I found it very astonishing when all the workers gather up to listen to Maria speech. Who also is the same character that gave the prophecy in the eternal gardens at the beginning of the film. The audience enters a very surreal scene, where deep underground there is a church like place, and a beautiful woman figure gives them hope for better lives, this moment only exaggerates on the shame after she has been made into a villain by Rotwang who gave his robot her appearance, which also followed a very good use of special effects during the transformation. Frederik has no clue about Marias double, after seeing her with his father theres a scene to resemble his confusion, which uses very good animation and editing techniques, which also takes me to the scene where Marias dances in front of all the nicely dressed men at the ball. All their eyes are turned at her with lust, which looks a lot like the scenes featuring dreams from Spellbound which been designed by the surrealism genius Salvador Dali. There is a couple of very memorable camera shots. One takes place when Maria is getting chased by Rotwang, there was a very good use of spotlight right before she gets caught, creates that extra tension for the audience. Probably the most effective of all is when Frederick reaches for the piece of cloth that belonged to Maria. The camera shot is made as we were looking down from his eyes. Also the scene in which Joh and Grot seem like theyre about to shake hands, this is when Johs character is no longer seemed like a villain. Very good acting from his part, as it makes the viewer realize that at this point his character have realized the despair the workers are put through. After seeing his son being a part of all those events hes been put in his workers shoes by the director.

To the big finale in the film, while the Metropolis is breaking down, the audience sees how easy it is to destroy something that youve worked so hard for. Just like with the story of Babylon the Babel tower falls. The workers destroy the heart of the machine and cause destruction to Metropolis, all this caused by anger and yet again following blindly one leader (in this case the robot that been found as Marias double). People follow blindly like a herd of sheep, and for their misery always throwing the blame on that one person. If the Dali in Spellbound workers opened their own eyes themselves none of this would of happened, however it brings you to the scene where the city of Metropolis is being flooded by water. We see all the huge walls bursting in space of second, which also reveals more contrast between the falling city and the party. In conclusion this was an indeed very futuristic film of its time, even though nearly a 100 years old, resembles todays life in a lot of its aspects. List of Illustrations: Figure 1 http://www.covershut.com/covers/Metropolis-1927-FS-Front-Cover-50790.jpg Figure 2 http://metropolis1927.com/inc/img/gallery/stills/13.jpg Figure 3 http://i.ebayimg.com/t/METROPOLIS-Eternal-Garden-10x8-B-W-6/00/$%28KGrHqQOKioE1571U3iDBNm2qni3Lw~~0_3.JPG Figure 4 http://www.paper-dragon.com/2026/images/garden1.jpg Figure 5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon.jpg Figure 6 http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_MWCMNbK6afg/S6nempZv8BI/AAAAAAAAAXA/HzCn0rcyGjs/s1600/lang _metropolis_moloch_2_stor.png Figure 7 http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_gZjpVKegBjM/TNHNVXKM0vI/AAAAAAAAAKs/l7Up4fljyzU/s1600/Metrop olis-office.jpg Figure 8 http://www.cclapcenter.com/archives/metropolis06.jpg Figure 9 http://madgearsolid.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/metropolis1.jpg Figure 10 http://ktismatics.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/metro-eyes.png Figure 11 http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/Metropolis-eyes-500.jpg Figure 12 http://www.hitomimatarese.com/pages/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/SpellboundDirected-by-Hitchcock.jpg