Week 2 Blog Assignment

Metropolis

The most noteworthy scene for me, in terms of recognizing what Bazin’s point was, was when when we were first introduced to Joh Fredersen. Fritz Lang sets the scene in a massively spacious, yet nearly empty room. It is Joh’s office, presumably, and by his grand view of the the great city, we can suspect he is of great power. The first few cuts feature shots with considerable depth of field. For example,  we see Joh standing in front, facing the camera, as three “analysts” (or whatever they were assumed to be) are vigorously working. His expression is solid and stoic like a statue. Every movement and word is calculated with a purpose and even upon meeting his son, he is expression-less. Many shots here are more drawn out, breaking away from the monatge style we had seen earlier in the film. Fredersen in one shot is seen standing with his back to the camera in his shadowy control sanctum. We, as the audience, without even knowing what he is up to, are assured that it is mysterious and complex. I felt like I was being introduced to Darth Vader or some other character of infamous prestige. The combination of this expression-less character, depth of field, framing of shots, shadowy room, and even set design all contribute to the mise-en-scène. These images are clear as day to me even now and their memorable composition is what Bazin was talking about. Lang shows us the scene and lets us make assumptions for ourselves, rather than tells us.

This scene also subtly adds to Lang’s expressionist tendency. We miss most parts of the father and son’s first confrontation due to the silent aspect of the film, but we lose none of its meaning. The overdone makeup and expressions alone tell what is going on. Furthermore, Joh’s massive desk and great window overlooking a fantasy-like city, show Lang’s artistry. Details are not really details; they are loud and in your face. This contributes to the drama and emotion of the scene; the father being absorbed in this opulence, while the son is disillusioned by it.

Really enjoyed this film. Good start to an awesome semester!!!

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5 thoughts on “Week 2 Blog Assignment

  1. This scene was not the first thing that came to mind when presented with this topic, but I almost wish it had been because it is a perfect example of what Bazin talks about. The introduction of Joh Fredersen is first captured using a long- shot image to help the viewer get the most out of the scene as possible. With that being said, it is remarkable how much one can infer about Mr. Fredersen after taking one glance at his immense office. His office suggests that he must be a man of some importance. Bazin would be in favor of this scene in particular because it has a clear depth of field. The majority of Metropolis does use more of a montage style, while this scene places more emphasis on mise-en-scène. To be honest I was not quite sure what Bazin was referring to either, but during the Tuesday viewing it was made much more obvious to me.

  2. I definitely agree! I was also very impressed with the extreme attention to detail in that scene. The calculated movements and the vast, open room make it very obvious very quickly what type of social and perhaps political or economic (we are unsure at this time) power these people have. I was able to get a good basic idea about what was going on with the location and the characters by the use of the long-shot introduction to both. I also agree with what you said about Lang leaving us to make our own assumptions. Although there is a considerable amount of detail in this scene, you are never actually told by a narrator (obviously) what is going on or who exactly the people are or where they are. The director did a great job of making it pretty easy to draw the right inferences. This definitely helped me realize what Bazin was talking about!

  3. I think that from this scene and the comments made about it have made we realize the meaning in Bazin’s mise-en-scene. If look at it in detail, the entirety of the scene is relatively slow- the slow panning of the camera and Joh’s immensely slow, poised, and almost condescending gait. It is clear that Joh is an enigma and holds power and influence within his hands. The slow pace really adds to that feeling while also displaying the grandiose nature of the room, thus enforcing the social standing and power held by Joh.

    Freder’s entrance barely even detracts from the scene’s intensity and his father’s own stoical nature. Here, it almost seems unlikely they even share feelings for one another. If montage was used here, I believe the scene wouldn’t have given such a strong feeling or meaning that it delivered.

  4. This scene is definitely a great example of the depth-of-field Bazin favors (and a great example of the kind of lighting that would become the norm in film noir – as you note, the interplay of light and shadow is excellent). I’m glad it helped so many of you understand Bazin better!

    Excellent first post, Chris. Keep up the good work.

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