Wednesday, 30 September 2015
From the very opening scene and throughout, Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis feels years ahead of its time. From montage's to cutaways, sophisticated special effects and vast set pieces paint establishing shots in a much broader light than that of which you would expect scenes to appear in within this era. These overwhelming shots effectively create a framework for the viewer, giving early hints that the events of Metropolis will be overlooked by huge structures and mannerism's that unarguably mirror todays culture, “the image of a futuristic city as a hell of scientific progress and human despair” (Egbert, 1998) . We meet the futuristic city at the peak of its production, high class civilians parade on the ground floor whilst workers continue to attend to monstrous machines in silent hordes under the surface, seemingly to allow the higher levels to continue as they are. Freder (Gustav Frohlich), son of the wealthy leader figure Jon Frederson (Alfred Abel), becomes aware of the drastic divide in his culture when he witness' a group of lower class workers carrying out there duties to maintain the city from its lowest and most mechanical level. Freder, horrified by the events he witnessed underground, immediately confronts his father over the wellbeing and injustice of the working class inhabitants. Disgruntled by his fathers lack of sympathy for the lower class, Freder takes it into his own hands to combat the divide in society and begin to bridge the gap in the different qualities of living, whilst his father only continues to broaden the horizons of his empire by enrolling the help of inventor Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Frederson and Rotwang continue to modernise their city by pursuing one of Rotwang's plans to create a robot inhabitant that will effortlessly fit in amongst the upper class citizens. Meanwhile in the lower levels of the city, Freder is witnessing the lengths the workers are going to in order to keep faith in their routine existence, when he bares witness to the god like figure of Maria (Brigitte Helm) who is helping the workers to continue with their lives and keep faith. Frederson soon becomes aware of the presence of Maria amongst his workers and with the help of Rotwang abducts her, and uses her likeness to apply the finishing touches to their project. Freder heroically rescues Maria and they set out to close the growing divide in their city together.
Fig 1: Metropolis
Throughout Metropolis the theme of the head needing the hands and the hands needing the head continues to present itself through the characters of the workers and Freerson. It would seem that Lang is trying to express the way man’s dependency on technology is only going to grow as the level of innovation in our world increases, but also that technology will forever be dependent on man to improve and upgrade its quality, encasing us in a vicious cycle. The character of Maria beautifully illustrates this point by being herself a technological marvel created by Rotwang, “The "Maschinenmensch" robot based on Maria is a brilliant eroticisation and fetishisation of modern technology” (Bradshaw, 2010). Although the premise of Maria’s character is completely inspired by impossible future technology her actions show that even the most brilliant inventions can cause chaos in the hands of the wrong people.
|Fig 2: Metropolis|
It feels as if Metropolis bares a slight resemblance to the movies of today, in that both often tackle the idea of civilisation being its own downfall. When the workers rise in Metropolis and begin to revolt and the upper class continue to upgrade their city it begins to feel as if this idea that Lang has conjured has left a permanent mark on directors of modern cinema today. When you compare Metropolis to movies such as 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, themes begin to spill over, as Phillip French has pointed out here, “It influenced generations of film-makers and musicians, providing iconic images of oppression and liberation.” (French, 2015). In both movies you become an audience for disasters and tragedy to take place whilst society can only sit back and endure the nightmares they have had a hand in creating. In Metropolis the robot Maria, created by Rotwang, causes chaos amongst the city whilst in The Day After Tomorrow the human race feels the force of nature they have provoked due to the effects of global warming. This point not only supports the idea of Lang’s theme running through the years of film making, but also that Metropolis resembles aspects of civilisation in the real world today. Hardly a day passes without groups in society objecting to standards and ideas that world leaders have pressed upon them and it becomes impossible to not see this portrayed cinematically when the workers of Metropolis begin to rise up.
However that is not to say that Lang hasn’t taken influence from filmmakers of his own time. The character of Dr Caligari from Robert Weines 1920 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has made a lasting impression on Lang through his own form of the character Rotwang. Both characters seem to thrive off the idea of creating a being in which they can control and manipulate, this is true in the case of the characters ‘Ceaser’ and ‘Robot Maria’. Whilst the character of Dr Caligari uses Ceaser to carry out his crimes, Rotwang uses his Robot to influence the workers of Metropolis and encourage them to take action in his own style. There is also an extremely mimicked scene in both movies, when Rotwang bounds across rooftops with Maria captive you cannot help but see Ceaser stalking across the skyline with his prisoner. This idea of a damsel being taken by a villain or monster seems to have engraved its place in cinema throughout the years, as iconic scenes of King Kong taking Jane in his grasp climbing the empire state building flood back to you in the closing scenes of Metropolis.
Fig 3: Metropolis
Fritz Langs’s Metropolis can go down as nothing short of a classic. When you consider the scaffolding it has created for modern day epic’s to shape themselves in and compare too , it becomes evident that Lang’s work has and will continue to inspire generations of timeless stories.
Bradshaw, P, (2010), Metropolis,, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/09/metropolis-restored-film-review Accessed on: 30/9/2015
Egbert, R, (1998), Metroplois, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-metropolis-1927 Accessed on: 30/9/2015
French, P, (2015) Metropolis Review- Phillip French on Fritz Lang’s Visionary Epic, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/mar/15/metropolis-fritz-lang-philip-french-classic-dvd Accessed on: 30/9/2015
Poster, Metropolis, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017136/ Accessed on: 30/9/15
Screenshot, Metropolis, http://www.chrismrogers.net/#/blog/4555515884/'Metropolis'/8971437 Accessed on: 30/9/15
Screenshot, Metropolis, http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=13888 Accessed on: 30/9/15
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Monday, 28 September 2015
Sunday, 27 September 2015
Friday, 25 September 2015
Thursday, 24 September 2015
These thumbnails are of the cities Argia (top half) and Esmerelda (Bottom half). I've tried to work a little more quickly here to just try and get an idea down rather than fuss over it. I especially like 29, I had the idea that because the city of Argia is technically underground, the city could be have buildings covered in plant roots as well as dirt, which would give it a bit more character and possibly a larger colour palette as well.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
Robert Wiene's 1920 film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, follows the story of a young man named Francis (Friedrih Feher), who becomes hell bent on unravelling the mysterious murders that are beginning to over shadow his town. As a travelling Doctor and his extraordinary exhibition containing a permanently sleeping man arrive in Francis' area to perform their show, arcane murders begin to materialise amongst the community. We see the events of Wiene's creation unfold through the perspective of Francis, as he hunts for answers amongst an ever growing web of disillusion and obscurity. As the plot progress' and Francis continues to piece together findings we discover that Dr Caligari may not be who he says he is, and is in fact the director of a mental institute compulsively obsessing over the study of somnambulism, or homicidal sleepwalking. Just as it seems Francis has finally deciphered the illusion that Dr Caligari has cast upon his beloved town, us the viewer are fiercely reminded of the control Wiene has over his audience as he violently shifts the change of pace and forces us to see the tale from the perspective Caligari himsef which shows us that Francis has in fact orchestrated this entire case from within the confines of his own institute cell and deluded mind.
The film's obscurity and irregularity is constantly mirrored in not only the characters and costumes but also in the wacky and set pieces themselves. This was undoubtedly a conscious style choice from Wiene as it would seem that specific settings such as the town/communal area where Dr Caligari's show and events such as the murders take place largely inhabit a more otherworldly and crooked theme. Suggesting that the darker the event, the more zany the set pieces which encase the act become . This could possibly be Wiene subtly giving the audience hints that most obscure happenings are occuring within the darkest and most fragmented depths of Francis' mind. Roger Ebert perfectly enhances this point when he states "He is making a film of delusions and deceptive appearances, about madmen and murder, and his characters exist at right angles to reality." (Roger Ebert,2009). To further enhance this concept, the use of the quote "He knows how much evil is visible through a “wrong shape”" (CA Lejune, 2014) perfectly proves that viewers over time have noted Weine's use of set design to reflect the levels of insanity the scene is holding. It is also worth mentioning that once the illusion is broken and the viewer is fully aware they are viewing from Caligari's perspective the surroundings become drastically more realistic and they almost completely lose their jagged personalities.
It is impossible to talk about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari without mentioning the monumental impact Weine's work has had on modern day classics, after viewing Caligari it is clear that the idea of reflecting a mood or theme through the art of set design has made an impression on artists such as Tim Burton when you are to compare Weine's work to the likes of Edward Scissorhands. The character of Ceaser, the sleepwalking show subject, has slight similarities to Scissorhands himself, in that both are the cause of plot altering events yet not necessarily through any fault of their own. This similarity may alter in scale yet none the less presents itself when Ceaser is the cause of a murder under the infuence of Calagari and when Scissorhands harms a resident of his neighbourhood due to his mechanical design, created by another. This idea of Ceasers action's being caused by another's doings can be backed up with the quote "Cesare (Conrad Veidt), the murderous somnambulist under Caligari's control." (Clayton Dillard, 2014).
In conclusion it would be unreasonable to judge The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as anything other than genre defining, The complex use of story telling through design as well as narrative should be nothing less than inspiring to any aspiring film maker.
Roger Ebert, 2009, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari-1920
CA Lejune, 2014,
Clayton Dillard, 2014, http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-cabinet-of-dr-caligari-1920
Monday, 21 September 2015
Here's my first couple of digital paintings from the class today, looking back now I can see the colour image looks a lot stronger and that there's possibley too much block colour on the black and white image. Does anyone have any suggestions for good brushes too use to combat this problem?