#6 Metropolis

Watched: August 2 2016

Director: Fritz Lang

Starring: Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm

Year: 1927

Runtime: 2h 33min (but it flies by – trust us!)

Metropolis

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Another classic we’ve seen before (also the second film so far that we actually own on DVD), but it’s been years and this is definitely a masterpiece worth rewatching. It’s a sort of dystopian biblical apocalypse story which follows this old, worn-out narrative:

Boy sees girl; boy follows girl; boy finds out father is an evil tyrant; boy goes undercover among the oppressed; boy presents as Messiah to girl; girl is replaced by evil robot; evil robot instigates murder and riot; girl tries to save the children; girl is accused of being a witch; and you know how this all goes. If you don’t, we don’t want to spoil it for you. Yes, the film is almost 90 years old, but a lot of people have not seen it and they should!

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Nothing could possibly go wrong if you build a huge tower and call it “The New Tower of Babel”

This is a stunning piece of cinema in every sense. It is epic in scope, beautifully shot, superbly acted, has amazing choreography (especially the sequence with the workers in the beginning) and incredible visual effects.

Much of the film seems an obvious source of inspiration for other works, and there are naturally many biblical allusions; to Babylon, the Great Flood, the seven cardinal sins, the Golden Calf and the Tower of Babel in particular.

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“What is this? A Tower of Babel for ANTS? It needs to be at least three times bigger!”

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One can spend months analysing this film, and perhaps one should, but we still have at least 994 films to go (damn you, fluctuating list!) so we’re going to have to wrap this up. If you haven’t seen this film, you should. Go watch it right now! It’s on YouTube – you have no excuse.

Next time: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

#1 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Watched: July 30 2016

Director: Robert Wiene

Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover

Year: 1920

Runtime: 1h 18min

Liquids consumed: 1 cider each

 

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This was a rewatch for us, of a classic German Expressionist horror film, and as it’s from 1920 it is readily available on Youtube. The protagonist tells the story of horrible events that transpired during his and his fiancĂ©’s dealings with Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist (aka sleepwalker) Cesare.

The make-up is excellently creepy and so are the costumes (good shoes, lady!). However, the biggest visual voice is the set. It is mostly painted canvas, and the lines, angles and sizes are all distorted, adding to the nightmarish quality of the film in general.

There is also some very good use of shadows, which is something we’ll see again in the next film, Nosferatu, if memory serves. And, as always, there are fragile women and swooning.

For a Norwegian viewer, being exposed to German is fun! As we both did French in school, our German has limited itself to such phrases as “Was ist das?” and “Ich bin ein wiener schnitzel,” which are not very useful. But watching this film in the original language confirmed the similarities between Norwegian and German, and we can now add to our German vocabulary such words as “somnambuler” which is sure to come in handy!

Despite this being a silent film, it is not inaccessible nor does it demand too much of the viewer. It shares many qualities with “modern” horror films, and it is a good example of great storytelling. It is entertaining, creepy, beautiful and grotesque, with a disturbing, eerie atmosphere throughout. All in all, we thoroughly recommend it!