Monday, March 21, 2011

Thing 335 Metropolis the Movie

There are many people who will claim that watching a movie I've never seen before is a cop out. Several people have told me that The Project is easy, just fill up the days with unseen movies, and I've told them about their body parts where I'd like to shove that idea. This one though, this one is different. This one is Metropolis...

How many people do you know who get frighteningly excited at the prospect of watching a two and a half hour, black and white silent movie from 1927? Just me then? You'd be wrong if you thought that. This movie is not "a classic", Metropolis is "THE classic". It invented science fiction feature movies. Without this, there'd be no Fifth Element, no Blade Runner, no Matrix for crying out loud. And I wasn't just watching the movie, I was watching it on a cinema sized screen. I was also on my own, which I'll admit, made me look a little bit like a crazy person.

I stood outside the theatre in Mary I where the movie was being screened and asked everyone walking in if they were going to see the movie, with what must have looked like a kind of creepy smile. See no one else wanted to go, and I desperately wanted to talk to someone about it. This combination is what makes people think I'm not all there, in the head.

Two and a half hours (that's a rough estimation, it's much closer to two hours, twenty minutes, but I like rounding things up for dramatic effect) is a long time for a movie even today. In 1927, it was unthinkable, but the director, Fritz Lang knew what he wanted. Sadly, he didn't know what the critics at the time wanted, and his movie was slammed in the press. Which only goes to show you that movie critics are cynical know-it-alls who should be burned at the stake for witchcraft.

In the ensuing panic, which in 1927 must have involved monocles falling into champagne glasses and women fainting everywhere, the studio cut out twenty five minutes of the movie. That made the story-line senseless and stupid. Then when the most expensive movie of its time turned out to be a flop, they binned it. And the original twenty five minutes wasn't seen again until 2009.

Seriously. An archivist in 2009 found an uncut copy in Argentina. Isn't that amazing? No? Why aren't you people excited about this. It's basically the first ever science fiction movie, and for eighty odd years it was assumed lost.

Fine. I'll be excited about this all on my own then.

Basically it tells the story of a Utopian city called Metropolis, where the wealthy engineers and upper class live in the clouds, and the workers live underground. The son of the unofficial ruler of Metropolis sees a working class woman and falls instantly in love. Chaos ensues and life is turned on its head. It's a little sentimental, and the sci-fi part is basically secondary to the love story, but who's judging? Hell, if they can put a love story in Star Wars...

At times the movie is hilarious, without intending to be, but that's because silent movies needed to make up for the lack of dialogue with some serious over acting, and when that happens, most of the audience were pissing themselves. Except for one guy up the front who kept telling people to shush. No, it wasn't me. I love the movie and all that, but I couldn't help cracking up at the facial expressions of the guys who were supposed to be portraying lust. If that's what lust looks like on a man, then women must spend their lives in eternal fear of being eaten alive...

What I went to see was a very rare opportunity to watch the full version, on a theatre size screen. It was epic. Amazing. Oddly enough, it was also free. Maybe it's just for sci-fi nerds and movie buffs, but I seriously think everyone, if given the chance should go to see a piece of cinematic history that you just cannot buy on DVD.

Just me? Fine. I'm going home to watch Fifth Element and blog angrily...

1 comment:

  1. kirsten steinhofelMarch 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    hi dan, love reading your posts! you're very good with words, and quite funny as well - which is always a bonus! thanks for taking the time to do all this.
    take care, kirsten