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Author Topic: Metropolis.  (Read 2955 times)
5tephe
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« on: March 21, 2007, 05:23:29 am »

(How can THIS not have been discussed here yet?)

<a href="http://www.filmforum.org/archivedfilms/metropolis.html"><img src="http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f213/5tephe/from%20the%20web/metrocardsm.jpg" /></a>

I have been spruiking the opinion around here that Steampunk is essentially a celebration of a past era (the 'Victorian' era, although I'd like to find something a little less Anglo-centric to define it) primarilly led by its science-fiction. That era produced the first science fiction, and some of it was absolutely wonderful.

Of course, science overtook the S-F, and our world changed. That left us with a colder, less romantic world, than the one predicted by some of the best authors modern times have produced. Of course, it is still accessible to us in the form of their glorious, moving fiction, and many modern authors (of comic books, novels, computer games, films, you name it) are beginning to turn back to those works as inspiration, and a setting. They are pretending, in essence that they were right, and exploring their wonderful world. And that is what Steampunk is.

So, to the point:
Is <em>Metropolis</em> the First Steampunk work, or the last of the Old World science-fiction that Steampunk is basing itself off?

Discuss.
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2007, 05:33:45 am »

So, to the point:
Is <em>Metropolis</em> the First Steampunk work, or the last of the Old World science-fiction that Steampunk is basing itself off?

Discuss.

Well I suppose this all comes down to definitions then.

I'd argue that Metropolis (as fine a film as it is) is more retro-futurist than Steampunk (while some would arge that there is no difference).

I would also argue that there is no real dividing line between the fantastic Victorian literature (and films) and Steampunk just a series of developments, reworkings and reinventions.

Still - good film Smiley
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5tephe
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2007, 05:39:45 am »

Ah, where as I would argue that there is all the difference in the world between Victorian Literature and Steampunk. One is of its own time, the other is deliberately and self-awarely mimicking that time.

And retro-futurism? Silliness. That's just imagining that (generally for no good reason) old-world values, and mores and trappings will come back into a world that has in every other way progressed. Bah!

For mine: <em>Metropolis</em> is the Last Hurrah of the old S-F tradition.
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2007, 08:49:48 am »

Retrofuturism is a celebration or exploration of the way people of the past viewed the future.
Victorian (or any other past era) science fiction IS the way people of the past viewed the future.
Steampunk is people in the present setting writing about the future in a sort of past.

Of course, this is overly simplistic, primarily in that all writing about the future that is worth reading is actually commentary on the contemporary times of the author. These three genres are all of course interrelated and influenced by one another, but they are, fundamentally, doing different things.

Within these definitions, we can make certain statements about the literature. Dieselpunk is the same TYPE of thing as steampunk. Retrofuturism is not. Victorian scifi is a component of retrofuturism and a major reference of steampunk, but one can say that it IS neither.

I made a diagram, because it isn't clear what I'm talking about. 10,000 hours in gimp:


Regards,
Alexander
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2007, 08:50:24 am »

Oh, also, Metropolis is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Regards,
Alexander
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Talyn
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2007, 06:11:22 am »

i friggn love this movie, better than half the movies that come out now..
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Crow
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2007, 08:49:02 am »

Quote
Is Metropolis the First Steampunk work, or the last of the Old World science-fiction that Steampunk is basing itself off?
actually wasn't Le voyage dans la Lune (A trip to the moon) by Georges Méliès, the first steampunk film? if anything I know it predates metropolis by 20 years or so, please correct me if I am wrong.

Anachronist, thank you for that chart/explination, that is a point I've ben unsucessfully trying to make whenever I get into a diesilpunk vs. steampunk discussion, they are both essentialy the same type of thing, just diferent times and fuel sources
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2007, 05:34:00 pm »

Metropolis - 1927

Trip to the Moon - 1904

I've got the remastered edition of Metropolis, which is pretty awesome. There are many versions, for people who don't know, something like a quarter of the film is considered lost. The remastered version puts all the existing pieces they could find from the various surviving cuts, and puts in inter-titles that explain the film that is missing. They also reproduce the original soundtrack meant for the film. My only complaint is that they play it at about 24 frames per second, when it was originally 20, so the movement looks a little jerky.

I've got an older VHS version, and the superiority of the remastered edition is very obvious, it's just the way the movie should be. =)

I still haven't seen the Moroder version... he colorized it, and added a rock and roll soundtrack back in 1984, lol.

1. Love Kills - Freddie Mercury
2. Here's My Heart - Pat Benatar
3. Cage OF Freedom - Jon Anderson
4. Blood From A Stone - Cycle V
5. The Legend Of Babel - Giorgio Moroder
6. Here She Comes - Bonnie Tyler
7. Destruction - Loverboy
8. On Y our Own - Billy Squier
9. What's Going On - Adam Ant
10. Machines - Giorgio Moroder

There are a lot of people who apparently swear by the Moroder version...

Also, here is a link to a translation of Thea Von Harbou's novel.
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2007, 08:38:16 pm »

Ah, where as I would argue that there is all the difference in the world between Victorian Literature and Steampunk. One is of its own time, the other is deliberately and self-awarely mimicking that time.

And retro-futurism? Silliness. That's just imagining that (generally for no good reason) old-world values, and mores and trappings will come back into a world that has in every other way progressed. Bah!

For mine: <em>Metropolis</em> is the Last Hurrah of the old S-F tradition.


You mean the world has progressed? I'm seeing less and less proof of that. Flush toilets, hot running water, blast furnaces, calculators and computers were all invented in eras way before the 20th century. The streets of the Inka Empire were cleaner than those of 19th century London.  Brain surgery, sports medicine, germ warfare, advanced breeding programs, calenders more accurate than the one we use- these are all old ideas, too.

The funny thing is, pretty much all of these ideas (except for germ warfare) have one thing in common- they were invented or developed outside of Western Europe.  The modern world has given us acid rain, a higher level of poverty and starvation than ever before in human history, a higher rate of consumption than ever before, fewer people than ever before having the majority of goods, services and education, nuclear weapons, faster spreading diseases due to greater travel opportunities, human-caused global warming, and a higher level of human-caused deforestation and extinction. Women and men are more egalitarian under simple agrarian and hunter-gatherer situations than they are under high agriculture or advanced technology. Anthropologists actually avoid talking about human progress anymore, because it's no longer considered an obvious way of looking at the world.  Historians don't really talk in terms of progress, either.

Sorry- but complex machinery isn't the same thing as progress. We have not created a world of peace, wisdom, health and prosperity for all, or even most.  The link shows the wonderful world we have created with progress. There are actually more starving people now because of progress than there were 100 years ago, and it is easier to find funding to develop new kinds of pet food than it is to find funding to get clean water to people. Most of the people who are reading the internet are more concerned with the exploitation of animals than they are about the unnecessary deaths of humans from starvation and war.  http://www.mysterra.org/webmag/coup-de-coeur_en.html

I'd also say that Metropolis is most decidedly not in the 'old SF tradition'.  Fritz Lang was a visionary who was deeply concerned about human alienation, the temptation to conformity, the growth of fascism and totalitarianism, and the destruction of community through technology.  In other words, he was in no way a Victorian.  He even would have made Welles look like a happy camper. His early films, including Metropolis, in no way resemble Edisonades, either.  While his movies Spies, Spiders, The Indian Tomb and Dr. Mabuse the Gambler all have elements similar to Victorian fiction (derring-do, villains who are akin to mad scientists, and so on), they are very, very Steampunk, if by Steampunk you mean examining a world that has been plunged into darkness to the point where it's sometimes hard keeping the good guys and the bad guys straight.   His work is closer to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the graphic novel) than it is to typical Victoriana.  He actually views the world of gears and cogs as hellish and enslaving.

http://www.ravenousmedia.com/review/Metropolis.html
http://homevideo.about.com/library/weekly/aafpr040203.htm
« Last Edit: March 24, 2007, 08:52:52 pm by The Grand Duchess » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2007, 08:28:20 am »

Ah, where as I would argue that there is all the difference in the world between Victorian Literature and Steampunk. One is of its own time, the other is deliberately and self-awarely mimicking that time.

And retro-futurism? Silliness. That's just imagining that (generally for no good reason) old-world values, and mores and trappings will come back into a world that has in every other way progressed. Bah!

For mine: <em>Metropolis</em> is the Last Hurrah of the old S-F tradition.

the first part i agree with, it makes a point I have been trying to make, however the second point isn't a point it's an opinion and it's somewhat erroneous considering that there are a lot of people on the planet and they each have their own values mores and trappings. A thing does not have to "come back" in absolute to "come back" but that is also assuming that it ever left, and i don't think there is a strong argument to prove it's gone. I would submit to you the example of such communities as the Amish which though not steam punk have succeeded in preserving a very old way of life, and then I would ask you to consider that any individual may take up the torch of whatever value system they like....once they have it is back, it isn't the dominant value system agreed but back it is, if indeed it ever left.
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5tephe
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2007, 03:41:30 am »

Alright, my Grand Duchess - point taken.
I would in no way disagree with you, of course, but let's be fair and agree that there are several ways to define the word "progress".
If you attach a value judgment about the quality of the way people live, then yes, everything you say can be held to be accurate from certain points of view. (It should be pointed out, for the sake of completeness that the brain surgery of the Ancient Egyptian empires has been significantly improved upon, by modern technology. Also, that there are a truckload more people in the world to make up those starving masses, thus there are probably - in strictly numeric terms -  a vastly larger number of well nourished people in the world today than there have ever been before, as well as a vastly larger number of starving people.)
But "progress" can simply mean improvement in technologies, industries and processes.

And Fantomas:
Sure, it's an opinion. But the kind of fiction that can be described as Retro-futurist imagines a world in which those mores and trappings have "come back" in a complete, and popularist way. I'm not for stepping on anybody's right to dress up and act like a complete fruitcake in their day to day life, here and now, but that has very little to do with retro-futurist fiction.

Anachronist: I'm not sure that I entirely 'get' what the different coloured lines mean in your diagram. Could you give us a key? It seems like a helpful tool in defining the genre, though.
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2007, 06:22:33 am »

I simply decided that lines that move forward in time should be blue, and lines that move backwards should be red. I thought it would make things a little easier to follow. I realize that the chart by itself doesn't really make any sense, but I thought it would help make what I said in the post a little clearer. I have recently decided that definitions are important after all, not because they are a desirable end in themselves, as some seem to think, but because otherwise people are always talking at cross-purposes, not understanding what other participants in the discussion quite mean. To me, at least, the distinction has always been clear:

You can't make victorian sci-fi at any time other than the victorian era;
Retro-futurism is essentially the act of finding interesting the way people used to see the future, the aesthetic thereof, and any subsequent derivative works, and
Steampunk has at least its roots in a spinoff of Cyberpunk in the 1980's: a fusion of modernfuturistic and retrofuturistic sensibilities and norms.

Basically, steampunk/dieselpunk/neopulp/whatever and victorian scifi are identifiable literary genres, whereas retrofuturism is more an aesthetic or theme.

But hey, what do I know? Sorry for driving the thread off-topic.

Regards,
Alexander
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2007, 10:58:17 pm »

Surprisingly, I perfectly understood the diagram and it makes perfect sense to me.  Also, Anachronist, we both need to get some OCD medication.... Smiley_
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2007, 01:50:40 pm »

I simply decided that lines that move forward in time should be blue, and lines that move backwards should be red. I thought it would make things a little easier to follow. I realize that the chart by itself doesn't really make any sense, but I thought it would help make what I said in the post a little clearer. I have recently decided that definitions are important after all, not because they are a desirable end in themselves, as some seem to think, but because otherwise people are always talking at cross-purposes, not understanding what other participants in the discussion quite mean. To me, at least, the distinction has always been clear:

You can't make victorian sci-fi at any time other than the victorian era;
Retro-futurism is essentially the act of finding interesting the way people used to see the future, the aesthetic thereof, and any subsequent derivative works, and
Steampunk has at least its roots in a spinoff of Cyberpunk in the 1980's: a fusion of modernfuturistic and retrofuturistic sensibilities and norms.

Basically, steampunk/dieselpunk/neopulp/whatever and victorian scifi are identifiable literary genres, whereas retrofuturism is more an aesthetic or theme.

But hey, what do I know? Sorry for driving the thread off-topic.

Regards,
Alexander

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mbbrutman
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2007, 05:05:29 am »

Metropolis is visually appealing, but it is not steam, retro futurism, or anything like that.  It's a morality story, and at the time it was made it would have been science fiction, just like the works of Jules Verne back when they were contemporary.

The fascinating thing about Metropolis is that Lang's vision of the future was entirely wrong.  It was logical for them to 'scale up' the machines they were familiar with, like trying to project the future based on what is current.  And that generally works in the short term, but never for the long term.  The world we live in today changed because it wasn't mechanical force that wound up driving everything - it was information in the form of bits and bytes.  They did not see the information age ..  to us a machine might be a computer, and for them a computer was completely foreign concept.  If you had told somebody in the 1920s that a good portion of the world's energy and people would be employed pushing information around, they would not have understood.


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5tephe
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2007, 07:15:08 am »

Entirely correct, mbbrutman (and Welcome!).

I once heard about a gathering of intellectuals, politicians, scientists and artist that was called upon to each write up what they thought the world would be like in one hundred years time. This experiment was conducted in 1899, and was published, so it was dug out in 1999, and there were a few articles about it.

The fascinating thing was that no-one predicted the motor car. It was all trains, baby.
They assumed that the current technology would simply get better and more efficient. They all predicted that a vast, incredibly fast, and hugely reliable train system would track right around the known world, and most especially the industrialised world.

Must see if I can dig it out from somewhere, a copy of that book....


So I guess you are on the side of the opinion that Metropolis is the 'last Hurrah' of the old mechanised Sci-Fi of Verne et al.
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2007, 07:18:05 am »

Entirely correct, mbbrutman (and Welcome!).

I once heard about a gathering of intellectuals, politicians, scientists and artist that was called upon to each write up what they thought the world would be like in one hundred years time. This experiment was conducted in 1899, and was published, so it was dug out in 1999, and there were a few articles about it.

The fascinating thing was that no-one predicted the motor car. It was all trains, baby.
They assumed that the current technology would simply get better and more efficient. They all predicted that a vast, incredibly fast, and hugely reliable train system would track right around the known world, and most especially the industrialised world.

Must see if I can dig it out from somewhere, a copy of that book....

Oh I would love to read that... I do hope you find it.

So I guess you are on the side of the opinion that Metropolis is the 'last Hurrah' of the old mechanised Sci-Fi of Verne et al.
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2007, 01:27:35 pm »

Metropolis is visually appealing, but it is not steam, retro futurism, or anything like that.  It's a morality story, and at the time it was made it would have been science fiction, just like the works of Jules Verne back when they were contemporary.
Agreed.
The fascinating thing about Metropolis is that Lang's vision of the future was entirely wrong. 
ah, here is where I will quibble...
His vision of the technology was wrong, but not his vision of the morality/philosophy that the future would possess.

The masses are slaves to the machine, to the benefit of the elite. It doesn't really matter what the machine is, does it?

That is part of the beauty of morality plays, they are timeless.

Which takes us to the Duchhess' post...
Sadly, all too correct.
Humanity has made no progress during written history. We have developed wonderous new technologies, to be sure. But all that has served to do the same things we hhave always done- just more efficiently.
We still slaughter each other in mass for all the old reasons: greed and religion.
The wants of the few still outweigh the needs of the many.
Civilized countries simply realized that they could get more from thheir thralls if they were healthier.
OSHA and similiar labor laws serve to assuage the age old concept of noblesse oblige which really only serves to assuage the guilt.
Those with the least pay the most (we call it 'credit rating' induced interest here in the States.)
I could go on and on, but... [/rant]

Back to topic: What all truly great science fiction, victorian or modern, bears in common is that it shows us the beauty and the horror of what could be- not because of some wondrous invention or alien contact, but because of how we as a species react to that new element.
Homo Sapiens is the most beautiful, most horrifying, thing that we can imagine.
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2007, 04:39:52 pm »

Quote from: daeudi_454
ah, here is where I will quibble...
His vision of the technology was wrong, but not his vision of the morality/philosophy that the future would possess.

You should read me more liberally after I rip off a quick post like that late at night. ;-)

Agreed.  His vision of how technology would progress was wrong, but that is not the point of the movie.  The vision of the future is just a prop to tell the story, and even though technology has changed much man has not.  The same movie could be remade today using current technology, and not be that much different.

The same applies to Frankenstein.  (I'm thinking of the book, but the original movie probably works too.)  Everybody knows it is nuts to dig up parts from the cematary and glue them together.  The technology in the movie in particular (Van de Graff generators, big knife switches, etc.) is visually appealling.  But it's not the point.


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