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.