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.