Week 2 Blog Post

            As a whole, Metropolis has many examples of the things we’ve been talking about in class, from types of shots to different varieties of montage. One of the very first scenes, the Eternal Gardens sequence, is as good as any other to analyze for these qualities.

The scene opens with a group of fancily dressed women approaching a man in a fantasy-like forest. The initial view we get is a long shot, which takes in the entire scene, before closing in on several middle shots of different various characters. Next, we get close up shots of a woman having her makeup touched up and then the man who is speaking to the women. After this, another long shot is used as Freder enters and playfully chases the women around. This cycle of long shots, then mid-range shots, then close ups is used frequently, particularly in this sequence.

            When Maria enters the garden with the children and sees Freder for the first time, evidence of several types of montage becomes evident. Parallel montage shows Freder about to kiss another woman when the doors open and Maria appears. The shots are taken completely independent of one another, but when shown back to back they give the appearance of something happening in the same area at the same time, just from different perspectives.
         Another thing to note in this scene is use of what Bazin calls “plastics”. In Metropolis, both men and women are heavily made up. Though the reason is not 100% clear, it is 100% evident; these people do not look natural, except perhaps for Maria. Is this possibly an indicator that she does not need worldly things to be complete, or that she is more pure and goodhearted than other characters? Also, though the sets/costumes are quite elaborate, many of the background images are quite obviously painted or drawn and do not look very realistic. But hey, what do you want from a film made in 1927?
          For the first silent film I’ve ever seen, Metropolis was pretty good! It was interesting, yet had so many good examples of what we discussed in class and it brought to life the things that Bazin talked about in his essay.
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3 thoughts on “Week 2 Blog Post

  1. As I was reading this analysis of the Eternal Gardens, I recalled just how dramatic the set was. As I thought about it, it came to my attention that the “plastics” in the scene may not have differed much from 1927 to 1939, and by that I mean the sets were just as dramatic in “Metropolis” as they were in the “Wizard of Oz.” We learned in class that “Metropolis” was a German impressionist film, meant to be exaggerated in all aspects, including sets. Although “Wizard of Oz” was not a German expressionist film, the set of the scene in which Dorothy’s house touches down in the land of Oz came to mind when I saw the fairy-like set of the gardens in Metropolis, minus the technicolor. Perhaps it was the apparent studio props with an elaborately painted background that made me compare the gardens to Oz, but somehow even the movements of all the girls reminded me characters of a fantasy land as opposed to city dwellers.

  2. I love that you mentioned that Maria does not wear much make-up unlike everyone else in the film and that she does not need worldly things to be complete because those two things imply that she is other-worldly.. perhaps saintly. Which is similar to what our classmate TianaTristam said in response to my blog post. She said, “Also, I think that the way Maria is dressed, with simple light clothing and little makeup symbolizes her as an angel not only from Freder’s perspective, but also for all the workers in the underground city.” I totally agree with you guys! That’s a very keen perception that I completely missed. Expounding on that, did you notice how they always had a spotlight on her whenever she was in the shot? She had a glow around her that the other actors did not have. Same with Freder. Were the directors trying to portray that Freder and Maria were perhaps saintly and doing the work of God? It would make sense since they had so many Biblical references in the film already. It would tie everything together.

  3. Good call on the Sainthood of Maria, her lack of makeup or fancy clothes displays twofold, that she herself is removed from the necessity of material things (She isn’t ever shown in possession of anything, nor enjoying anything worldly, either) and shows the dichotomy between the upper class and the lower class. The heavy makeup and, from our perspective, silly clothing of the upper class of Metropolis easily and efficiently demonstrates their frivolous use of money, their carefree life, and of course, the hedonism they so slavishly follow. Their clothing and makeup are integral to their being, as opposed to Maria, and the lower class, who are shown to be suffering, hardworking folk. Which, in itself, is a Biblical Allusion to the Jews in Egypt, ruled by a cruel and lavish upper class (The Egyptians) whilst they toil away on other leader’s work.

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