Thursday, November 4, 2010


I already reviewed the anime based on the manga tangentially based on this, but here's the original. If I waited another month I could have watched a new, even more restored version of the film, with over twenty extra minutes. To be honest... I'm glad I didn't. I have mixed feelings on this film, a German silent classic. Conceptually, for 1927, it's downright amazing. It's a very early example of science fiction in film, and was definitely very influential and important to the history of the medium. Some of the ideas are really great, and aspects of the production are impressive. I just didn't find it terribly entertaining to watch. It wasn't awful by any stretch, it's just that I find it much harder for film to work without dialogue unless it's funny, mostly because scenes tend to last a lot longer than they have to. It's not that you can't convey ideas and emotion without words, it's that movies like this often pretend to have dialogue, so you're watching two people mouth words at each other for minutes on end while only getting maybe two subtitles throughout the whole thing. What's happening in each scene is often clear for a long time before it actually ends, and it just makes it difficult sometimes to maintain attention when things actually start happening.

So it's about a future society where the very rich live in grand, tall buildings, and the working class toils endlessly maintaining machines below the surface. One of the men in charge has a son, who becomes disillusioned after seeing the conditions, understanding what the life of a worker is like, and meeting a woman who has become a spiritual leader down below. The man and his crazy evil scientist colleague come up with a plan to use a robot in the woman's image to regain control of the situation, but things go awry in ways that neither of them expect. It's an interesting, forward thinking story, and I'm definitely glad having seen of the movie. I just feel that it definitely could have been told efficiently, and it's one of those situations where it wouldn't actually be a tragedy to trim some of the fat. Still, I understand the desire for wanting to have as complete a version of the original as possible in existence.

No comments: