Metropolis [1927]

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Fritz Lang's Expressionistic masterwork continues to exert its influence today, from Chaplin's Modern Times to Dr. Strangelove, and into the late 1990s with Dark City. In the stratified society of the future (Y2K no less), the son of a capitalist discovers the atrocious conditions of the factory slaves, falling in love with the charismatic Maria in the bargain, who preaches nonviolence to the workers. But even the benevolent leadership of Maria is a challenge to the privileged class, so they have the mad-scientist Rotwang concoct a robot double to take her place and incite the workers to riot. The story is melodrama, but it's the powerful imagery that is so memorable. One of the most arresting images has legions of cowed workers filing listlessly into the great maw of the all-consuming machine-god Moloch. Unfortunately, the print used for this DVD is unfocused, scratchy, and five minutes short, altogether unworthy of a visionary masterpiece. It may be too much to hope for the complete film to be restored (only two hours of the original three-hour film are extant), but a clean transfer from a fine-grain negative ought to be possible. And why, when there are other possible future Metropolises to be had, should we downtrodden masses accept this junk? If anyone wonders what became of Moloch, now they can stop guessing; he's alive and well and making debased DVD versions such as this one. --Jim Gay

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