Metropolis is an expressionistic German film from 1927, which arguably first introduced the genre of science-fiction to the big screen. The film was directed by Fritz Lang, whose vision of the dystopian future still remains one of the most iconic environments in cinema to date.
The premise of the film follows Freder, the son of a wealthy tyrant, desperate to break the divide between the the upper class city-dwellers, and the seemingly robotic workers of the depths. The stunning design of the film was a completely unfounded concept at the time it was made. “Above ground, it has spires and towers, elevated highways, an Olympian stadium and Pleasure Gardens. Below the surface is a workers' city where the clocks show 10 hours to squeeze out more work time, the workers live in tenement housing and work consists of unrelenting service to a machine.” (Ebert, 2010) With typical cinema of the early 20th century consisting primarily of single-shot stage settings, Lang completely immerses the viewer with open-world cinematography still present in films today, such as ‘The Fifth Element’ and even the towering heights of Gotham City.
At the core of its composition and design style, Lang delivers a story almost entirely based on visual effects. “Lang avoided as many intertitles as possible, and depends on images of startling originality.” (Ebert, 2010) The visual effects are admired so prominently in the world of cinema today because of how contemporary they feel, with experimental camera shots and cliché ideas which were completely original at the time. Metropolis features an array of post-modern sets which contrast perfectly with the underground quarters of the working classes, displaying an exaggerated comment on the social divide between rich and poor.
(Bilinsky, 1927) Fig 1: http://static.igossip.com/photos_2/august_2011/wallpaper_metrosh.jpg
(Lang, 1927) Fig 2: http://www.australiandesignreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/fritz-lang-metropolis-1.jpg
(Lang, 1927) Fig 3: http://jayjiratt.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/metropolis-metropolis-1927-15539888-2560-1804.jpg