Heartbreak City

Fritz Lang was already the most celebrated filmmaker in Germany when he made the silent movie Metropolis in 1927. His previous movies, playful, magically inventive slices of expressionism, had already investigated adventure, mythology, science fiction--all the genres that he calls upon in Metropolis, which in restored form is playing around the country, offering one of the great moviegoing experiences.


Metropolis, which Lang wrote in collaboration with his wife, Thea von Harbou, posits a futurist society that consists of a utopia layered on top of a dystopia. Above the earth, towering toward the sky, is an aristocracy ruled by Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), whose son, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), cavorts with a bevy of girl friends in a garden paradise. (The young women are dressed like Ziegfeld Follies chorus girls suited up for a historical pageant number.)

 

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