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Welcome To Metropolis 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

As you'll have guessed from the screenshots, this is not Fritz Lang's expressionist masterpiece, but a Japanese animated update. Which means that this is not silent, and it is not in black and white. However, the most pressing reason why you should see this film is, quite simply, that it is a work of genius, a visual feast that has heart, intelligence, and subtext to match its extraordinary imagery.

Some time in the future, in a city in which robots are replacing the workforce, a plan is being hatched to realign the control of the world as we know it. The enigmatic Duke Red, who leads a group of political vigilantes, has been preparing a powerful new humanoid creation which has the power to hold dominion over the known world, and bring traditional forms of government to their knees. However, before his plan comes to fruition, the creation escapes from the underground facility in which she was made into the sub-structures of Metropolis, where, with a young boy, she tries to discern who she is, and what her purpose might be.

The film follows several different variously converging plot lines - the story of Duke Red and his violently loyal adopted son, the story of the youthful creation, named Tima, and her burgeoning sense of identity, the story of a Japanese detective trying to unravel exactly what's going on, and the story of the repressed human underclass who are threatening to break out into violent protest at their loss of their basic human rights. All these strands come together at the conclusion of the film in one of the most incredible sequences of animated brilliance I have ever seen.

Although "Metropolis" may sound like just another technology-obsessed Japanese animation, in fact it is so much more. As a meditation on man's awesome power of creation and destruction, the film brings with it a timely reminder of the total social devastation that we are so clearly capable. As a reflection of the transitory nature of childhood and innocence and how each individual must make a stand for what they believe, "Metropolis" carries an emotional resonance that transcends its animated confines. But what confines these are.

No amount of Disney-watching can prepare you for the attention to detail, the vast, beautifully constructed urban landscapes, the idiosyncrasies of the protagonists, the amazing wealth of incredible detail. "Metropolis" carries with it a visual style and elegance that is, to my mind, almost unprecedented in motion picture history. And, as for the conclusion, the moment Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You" kicks in, my heart was in my throat - without doubt this film has one of the most powerful, relevant final sequences I've seen for some time. Imagine "Fight Club" pushed to the nth degree and you're still nowhere near. I implore you to see this film - the images, ideas and imagination may just change the way you see the world.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)