Comer4d Productions

Fritz Lang

Metropolis (1926)

            “The mediator between head and hand must be the heart!”… Seeing as Metropolis is the first silent film I have seen, I’m not quite sure I completely understood it, but I do remember seeing that phrase at the beginning of the film and throughout the film.  I am not sure if I can form an honest opinion about the film’s themes.  What I do know, however, is photography. Fritz Lang, the director, was spectacular at his cinematography.  Even though I did not like some of the things he did, he did them very well.  The “things” which I’m referring to are: vignetting, frame rate, and rule of thirds (or lack there of).

            Vignetting by definition is “Illustration, photograph, or halftone print in which the outer edge or background gradually and irregularly fades off until it blends into the unprinted paper.”  In the film every frame is vignetted.  This bothered me because when someone applies a vignetted frame they wanted to imply emphasis; but there is no emphasis when everything is vignette. There has to be diversity in the frames.  With the harsh words out of the way, the way Mr. Lang applied different color vignettes to the different scenes to emphasize the mood was very interesting. There was a black vignette for dark moods and the bad guys; and a white vignette for lighter moods and the good guys.  There was also a sparkly vignette for dream sequences.  The vignettes were deffinately the main thing I noticed about this film, and they did a fantastic job of applying the vignettes to each frame and switching them when the mood changed.  If they used the vignette a little less I think it would have left a bigger impact on the film.

            The frame rate changed so much in this film.  I know that in 1926 special effects where not so great and when they wanted to make a scene happen faster the sped up the frame rate.  I just noticed the changes of frame rate because I do not like when it is so obvious, because today there are much better ways to make something appear faster.  But in the film some sped up scenes were needed.

            The rule of thirds is by definition 

“A compositional rule of thumb in photography and other visual arts such as painting. The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph.”

The film used this in some places, but I felt as if there were other places where it was needed as well. I cannot remember exactly where I thought it was needed but I remember thinking that scene could have been shot better.  Yes you can “break” the rule of thirds but with film it helps so much.  It also balances out some scenes when thirds are applied.

With everything said, all of it was things to make the film more visually esthetic.  Metropolis had a strong message and if they could have shot it with our technology I believe it would be a very strong movie.