Who’s in it?: Nobody you know; unless you know them from this.
What’s it about?: Class warfare in a dystopian future.
How is it?: Metropolis doesn’t seem like a natural pick for a box set of horror movies, but the more I think about it, the more appropriate it is. There’s a mad scientist, but that doesn’t make it a horror movie. His creations are more into encouraging social rebellion than murdering villagers. There’s not even an iconic horror actor to justify the movie’s inclusion.
It is however a German Expressionist film like horror classics Nosferatu, The Golem, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. That by itself doesn’t make it a horror film, except that the imagery of Metropolis is as stylishly unsettling as any of those films. It’s meant to frighten us; just not for thrills. It wants to scare us into action, or at least into thinking a certain way.
It gets praised a lot for good reason. It’s a lavish spectacle that still looks amazing 85 years later. The special effects hold up, the action is beautifully choreographed, and the world-building is stunning and believable. The world of Metropolis feels like a real place, though not one you’d want to live in unless you were ridiculously rich.
The theme of rich bastards vs. poor workers is more timely than ever, but it’s the handling of that theme where the movie falls short. It’s ridiculously unsubtle and you’re told exactly how you’re supposed to feel every step of the way. If it’s not through imagery, it’s through speeches.
But even though the execution is simplistic, the message isn’t. Metropolis isn’t a Marxist propoganda film about the Man keeping the workers down. It’s about the classes learning to co-exist, not just peacefully, but symbiotically. That’s a powerful statement and I have to like the movie for making it in such a visually impressive – if not exactly elegant – way.