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© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
Editor:  Ernest Lilley
Associate Editor: Sharon Archer

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Aug02 Contents
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Columns:
Editorial License
US Books
UK Books
Can Books
Comics
DVD

Events/Cons:
CanVention 22 and the Aurora Awards
If It's Tuesday, this must be TOR

Feature Interview:
Ken Macleod

Feature Review: Cosmonaut Keep by Ken Macleod

BBook Reviews
The Alchemists Door
by Lisa Goldstein
Alternate Generals II
ed by Harry Turtledove
Argonaut by Stanley Schmidt
Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks
The Iron Grail by John Woodstock
The Sacred Pool by L. Warren Douglas
The Sky So Big And Black by John Barnes
Spaceland by Rudy Rucker
Straw Men by
Michael Marshall Smith
Sisters of the Raven by Barbara Hambly
To Trade The Stars by Julie E. Czerneda
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Graphic Novel:
Murder Mysteries. Original short story and radio play by Neil Gaiman. Graphic story script and art by P. Craig Russell
Zine: The Journal of Pulse Pounding Narratives

SFMedia:
Film:
Austin Powers: GoldMember

Metropolis (2002) Restoration
& Metropolis Essay
PowerPuff Girls
Reign of Fire
Signs
Simone

 

image
Freder: It was their hands that built this city of ours, Father. But where do the hands belong in your scheme?
Joh Frederson: In their proper place, the depths.

Fritz Lang's Metropolis: July
Official Restoration Site: http://www.kino.com/metropolis/
IMDB entry: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0017136

Review by Amy Harlib / Playdates-Locations

Directed by Fritz Lang
Writing credits Fritz Lang
Cast: Alfred Abel …. Johhan (Joh) Fredersen /  Gustav Fröhlich …. Freder Fredersen / Brigitte Helm …. Maria/The Robot (AKA Futura) / Rudolf Klein-Rogge …. C.A. Rotwang / Fritz Rasp …. Slim / Theodor Loos …. Josaphat / Heinrich George …. Grot
Original Music: Gottfried Hupertz, 1926 Score

Review by Amy Harlib

Fritz Lang's Metropolis (Kino International 1927/2002). Directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Mr. Lang and Thea von Harbou, based on the novel by von Harbou. Music by Gottfried Huppertz. Running time: 120 minutes. Not rated. Science fiction fans and cineastes in general have cause for great rejoicing now that a painstaking 4 year effort by German film preservation specialist Martin Koerber and Alpha-Omega, a Munich firm specializing in digital restoration, makes it possible to see, in limited arthouse distribution, a definitive version of the classic 1927 movie 'Metropolis', an allegorical, future dystopian saga directed by Fritz Lang, a master of German

Expressionism many of whose works have also become classics. His most famous production Metropolis, now presented with significant footage restored after being lost for over 70 years and this combined with newly re-translated titles and a resurrection of Gottfried Huppertz's magisterial, symphonic score, makes this version the closest possible to Lang's original conception.

Metropolis, pioneering crucial SPFX technology and using imagery and concepts imitated countless times since, was one of the most expensive and lavish productions of its era and its monumental scale and gorgeous production design dazzles to this day while its story's themes and subtexts continue to resonate and be relevant.

The plot centers on Freder Fredersen (Gustav Frohlich), pampered son of Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel) the ruler of the eponymous conurbation. Freder gets smitten by a young woman named Maria (Brigitte Helm) escorting workers' children on a field trip to the upper levels of the gleaming towers of the gigantic city of the future, a setting so awesome that it is as much a character as the human inhabitants. The protagonist follows Maria to her home territory - the lower depths - where he discovers the bitter truth behind the luxurious lifestyle of the elites. Freder witnesses slavishly regimented laborers with numbers rather than names toiling amidst hazardous steam-belching machinery that dwarfs its operators and causes injury and suffering. When an explosion occurs before Freder's eyes, he experiences a vision of slaves being herded for sacrifice into the flaming mouth of a huge idol of Moloch, just one of the numerous Biblical references heavy-handedly interwoven throughout the movie.

Freder is thus inspired to help the workers with Maria who turns out to be a revolutionary activist seeking to free the workers from their oppression. He also seeks out the mad scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), an archetype conceived here for the first time, who knows the secrets of the subterranean realm but who also works for none other than the Big Boss Joh Fredersen.

Rotwang's mission involves creating, in anticipation of and to defuse expected unrest, an agent provocateur, a "robot-Maria" (Brigitte Helm again) so that the underclass, still following their radiantly lovely, charismatic leader, can be fooled and controlled.

There is also a significant subplot where a character called the Thin Man (Fritz Rasp) gets sent by Joh Fredersen to spy on his son while the offspring befriends his father's dismissed assistant Josaphat (Theodor Loos) and pursues Maria. As the ruler's plans unravel in a spectacular fashion, along the way there are scenes rife with: allusions to the Book of Revelations; imagery of the Seven Deadly Sins; and the tiresomely patriarchal tendency to blame everything that goes wrong on the woman - never mind that the simulacrum of Maria was created by men in the first place!

Never mind that the whole stratified, exploitative society in the picture was male dominated (reflecting Lang's contemporary cultural milieu). Metropolis, which ( according to legend) was inspired by Lang's first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, represents a visionary work of science-fiction that also was one of the first mega-productions that nearly bankrupted the studio (in this case UFA) that produced it with its: thousands of extras; already gigantic sets made to seem even larger by cutting-edge camera trickery (involving the first use of the seminal Schiuftan technique, named after its inventor, in which miniatures and live action get filmed simultaneously); and dazzling SPFX set pieces. These included: the explosion of the "heart-machine"; the stunning Frankensteinesque creation of the robot-Maria; and a flood of apocalyptic, multitude-engulfing proportions. Gottfried Huppertz's resurrected, richly-textured orchestral score provides the perfect accompaniment to the proceedings.

The summit of German Expressionism with its combination of stylized sets, dramatic camera angles, bold shadows and exaggerated theatrics, Metropolis depicted its story with scenes of astonishing originality, being the first to introduce character types and imagery that inspired innumerable successor filmmakers ever since. This film, despite its flaws, fully deserves its classic status, for like all great works of art, it not only entertains, but also provokes thought, stimulates ideas, and challenges the mind, most notably with its timeless and eternally valid themes of liberating dehumanized, exploited workers and the concept that, "the mediator between the brain and the muscles must be the heart".

Metropolis, essential viewing for all film buffs and science fiction aficionados in particular, remains a monumental triumph of the imagination.

Metropolis Playdates: (courtesy Kino International)

Theater Location Playdate begins
Film Forum New York, NY July 12, 2002
Cinema Arts Huntington, NY July 19, 2002
AFI National Film Theater Washington, DC July 26, 2002
CineStudio Hartford, CT August 7, 2002
Music Box Theatre Chicago, IL August 16, 2002
Paramount Theatre Austin, TX August 23, 2002
Brattle Theatre Cambridge, MA August 23, 2002
The Castro Theatre San Francisco, CA August 23, 2002
Michigan Theatre Ann Arbor, MI September 21, 2002
Nuart Theatre Los Angeles, CA October 4, 2002
Cinematheque Cleveland, OH October 25, 2002
Detroit Institute Detroit, MI November 29, 2002