Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Metropolis (1927)

If you're gonna watch a ton of junk movies, you should, on occasion, find one that is a cultural marvel, just to see what GOOD movies should look like and, as they say, clear the palate. And this one was made in Germany in the 20's. It is 
currently streaming on Netflix right now - a black and white silent film restored as best as can be and with English subtitles. 

I have heard that there are other 'restored' versions but one I found said it had English subtitles (it didn't), and another said it has a song by Freddy Mercury (which I couldn't find). Because Freddy provided a song, they let them use footage of it in their song Radio Gaga http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t63_HRwdAgk . Using actual footage and even making new versions of parts of the machines, and a large group of 'workers' as his audience, it makes a song I really never caught onto at least interesting to watch.

The movie is about two and a half hours long so if you can't see it in one sitting, I understand - but watch it. It, even by today's standards, is absolutely fantastic. Fritz Lang seemed to spare no expense in either special effects (which are far, FAR above any then or even decades later), extras (since there are no computers to 'enhance' crowds, those hundreds of people you see are really there - as well as the children.

To quote the official basis of the story, 'Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city's ruler, and Maria, whose background is not fully explained in the film, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classist nature of their city.'

It was, understandably, the most expensive film ever released in that era. Pros and cons said while it was lavish and incredible in its technical achievements, the story was naive' and simplistic. They also didn't like the length and some of the content so the German people never did see the whole film - and even though it has been restored, there are large parts of the film that are still missing. I noticed in this 'restored' version, a pivotal scene was not seen at all, but explained on title cards. Real shame, that.

The sheer magnitude of the film is staggering even by today's standards. The plot? You have the typical separation of the have and have-nots. The rich live 'above' enjoying a pretty decadent lifestyle while the 'workers' live below and work themselves to death on machines needed to keep this utopian city running. The 'Master' is a single ma named Joh Fredersen. One day his son, Freder, gets bored and explores the lower levels. He is appalled by what he sees, and at the same time entranced by a beautiful blonde who seems to be leading the workers to an eventual revolution - but not a violent one. She is telling them to wait, that soon a 'mediator' would appear and all their lives would become better. As is usual in these things, Freder is instantly and completely in love with the mysterious woman called Maria.

The movie kind of crawls at a snails pace compared to what we're used to (instead of the usual 90 to 100 minutes of movie) but I think a major reason for that is one, being a silent film they wanted to make sure the plot and action were clear, and spending that kind of money on the sets/personal/special effects they wanted to get every reichspfennig they spent to be worthwhile.

Metropolis tries to mush together a sci-fi love story with moralistic undertones with a medium degree of success. Don't watch it for the acting or even necessarily for the story - watch it for the sheer magnitude of the sets and the special effects and the effort of a late 20's film compare with a whole lot of slapped together films we get today.