Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Space Oddities Review - Metropolis


‘Metropolis’ directed by Fritz Lang in1927 is a sci-fi German film that fitted conventions of the genre we see today and gave a new meaning to the category. “this sci fi silent remains one of the gems of the genre” (1).
Set in the city of Metropolis, where the wealthy live above among the artificial stars and the labourers live and work below in the dull, dank underground. The mighty creator’s son falls for a social worker, Maria, whilst a wild (and trusted) inventor gives life to a racy female robot.

The majority of Metropolis is designed with towering buildings where machines are seen zipping through the city more than we see the human inhabitants going about their daily lives. The city seems to have no natural areas or green spaces until we come to the Eternal Gardens.


Generally, sci fi set designs appear to be metal man-made structures. However, Lang has been able to put sci fi elements into ‘natural’ environments. Regarding the image above, the long sculpted like stem appears as if they could have been influenced by springs or cord tubes, or other man-made products. These natural formations translate alien qualities as to my knowledge trees on earth don’t grow in this way, however they could have been informed by beehives or termite hills.
The female robot, invented by Rotwang depicts a quality of horror as the robot is gender specific and is made to look human, female and alluring. It isn't a robot to help another machine but simply to fulfil a 'mad scientists' dreams. This was the first 'alluring' and human-like robot presented in film; "images of startling originality" (3). We can see the influences Lang has had on great modern film/TV makers of today, such as; CP30 in Star Wars and the CyberMen in Doctor Who.






The Sci fi genre seems to include biblical references, the age old scenario of man vs God and in Metropolis we see an Olympian-like stadium where ‘Evil’ Maria is sitting smugly upon a ‘seven-headed scarlet beast’. (see the book of Revelations) Even the choice of costume makes her seem regal with the extravagant head piece; suggesting a crown. Therefore, she owns the beast; she is the mother to it and is proud to be a part of it. All of these factors contribute to a blaspheme “is a credible image of hell” (7). This is another convention of sci fi.

 ( 8)

Overall, Fritz Lang with his highly expressionistic yet surreal sets, has really complimented and brought some ‘dazzle’ to the sci fi genre. Not only was he thinking of futuristic environments but also what our man-made culture and way of living would do to us as a civilisation? He is projecting a warning to his audience and insinuating that there will be a ‘bigger gap’ between the classes and soon enough one will rise against the other. His narrative also attempts to inform us that our abuse and reliance on machinery and technology could possibly overtake us and destroy who we are.


(1)    Kim Newman, paragraph 5, line 1,
(2)    Eternal Gardens, Metropolis, 1927,
(3)    Roger Ebert, paragraph 9, line 3,, June 2nd 2010,
(4)    Awakening of Robot, Metropolis, 1927,
(5)    Cybermen, Doctor Who,
(7)    Nev Pierce, paragraph 8, line 1-2,, January 7th 2003,
(8)    Evil Maria on the scarlet beast, Metropolis, 1927,


  1. Hi Rosalyn,

    Once again you have made some really interesting observations here.

    My first comment today would be in regard to your font - one of the conventions in academic writing is the use of italics for quotes, book/film names etc, and the font you are using at the moment, doesn't allow for this. Do you think you could change it to one that does?

    When referencing your quotes, put the author's surname and date of publication in brackets directly after the quote, so ' blah blah blah' (Hagan, 2013), rather than numbering it. The images should however be numbered, Figure 1 etc. You need to keep your bibliography separate from your images, so have the written referencing first (Bibliography) and the images afterwards (Illustrations). The bibliography is arranged by author's surname first, so Ebert, R. etc, and then the list is compiled alphabetically. Have a look here for full details on what you need to include, and the order to put things in -

  2. That's better! :) Now in your next review, we'll be able to see you italicising :D