Week 2 Blog Assignment

            Metropolis was the first silent film I had ever seen and I must say it did not disappoint. Although the lack of dialogue made it difficult to follow at times, I found that the acting was more dramatic and theatrical. This made the film not only more interesting, but it added life to the characters and the plot. They could not rely on speech delivery to get their emotions across so they had to settle for facial expressions or big gestures. The makeup was also relied on to add character. For example, Rotwang, the inventor, has raccoon-like eyes due to his black eye makeup. This makes him look like a lunatic, which fits his character of being a genius inventor.

            The scene that I thought was most important was the scene where Maria was cloned. For the prelude of the movie, Maria is known as a sweet, beautiful girl. Her face does not have a lot of makeup, but rather she has natural beauty. She cares for the children that live underneath the city. When Rotwang clones her, the shots cut back and forth between Maria lying unconscious in a tube, and the robot. Even though this movie is old and the special effects aren’t as advanced, I enjoyed watching this transformation scene more than others. The camera angles and the character of Rotwang really built the suspense. I really like how the robot takes the form of Maria and the audience sees the real Maria droop her head to the side – implying that a part of her is gone because it now lives in the robot. It is clear later in the movie that the only thing the two Maria’s have in common is their looks, and even that is stretching it. The robot-Maria has a lot of makeup on. I thought this was very interesting as the heavy eyeliner takes away her look of innocence and, like Rotwang, makes her look a little crazy.

            I really enjoyed watching this silent film. The lack of dialogue was made up for in other ways which made Metropolis a great first science fiction film. 

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4 thoughts on “Week 2 Blog Assignment

  1. Metropolis is actually the first silent film I have ever seen as well. I was surprised I even enjoyed it as much as I did. As you have stated, the overdramatized acting, along with the exaggerated make-up, make the film easier to comprehend and enjoy. All the theatrical- like aspects of the film is very typical of German expressionism. The heavy make-up – even on the males – is indicative of this expressionistic style. The make-up on the real Maria contrasts greatly to that on the Machine Man Maria. The real Maria is indeed a sweet, beautiful girl. Her messy hair, fair complexion, conservative clothing, and lack of make-up makes it evident that she is meant to represent purity and innocence. On the contrary, the Machine Man Maria that Rotwang creates wears heavy make-up and is scantly clothed. The two Maria’s can be representative of several things like: heavy and hell, good and bad, God and the devil. When viewing the two individuals, it is easy to pick out one from another. When Rotwang is in the process of cloning her, the camera switching between Maria in the tube and the robot may be termed parallel montage. This is due to the fact that two different things are occurring at the same time.

  2. Something that I noticed about the two versions of Maria is the subtle commentary on how a woman’s sexuality can be abused and manipulated to achieve a goal. At the beginning, Maria is, as stated by the original poster, innocent and pure. Everything about her image and actions reflect that idea, from her minimal makeup to her care for the city’s children. Also, she spent much time in the underground part of the city trying to make the workers remain peaceful, reminding them day in and day out of her belief in The Mediator who would make life better for them. However, when she becomes Machine Man Maria, all she has to do is loosen her top and make eyes at them, and in less than a day the men are all convinced to overthrow their oppressors. It makes the very relevant (especially in this day), though false point that a woman’s appearance and how she plays to that are her only source of strength and power.

  3. In response to your post, I too noticed the heavy make up that was displayed in the movie. Make up definitely defines the expression and would apply in an “expressionist” film. It seemed to play a role in the innocence of the characters. The truly pure person wore barely any make up and looked incredibly clean. I noticed also that the movements were different, more provocative. The scene you refer to stretches the imagination in such an early period. It would be very intense and to emphasize that it is, the scenes jump back and forth quickly between the multiple scenes. Also, the scene is also the compromise between the lack of sound as the visual is all you have besides some orchestrated music in the background. It is hard to believe that there is such sophisticated film in the early time that it is, and once again I repeat myself.

  4. All of you make interesting points about the two sides of Maria. I can’t help but notice how overtly Metropolis plays out that classic virgin/whore trope through means as simple as changes in make-up, facial expression and body language. It’s a fascinating reminder that some things never change. Nice observations!

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