With the plethora of movies we have today, it’s hard to believe that filmmaking is a relatively new art that began just more than a century ago. The first movies—black and white, soundless, and usually less than ten minutes—were incredibly creative and hopeful short art pieces. These works inspired filmmakers to produce longer movies with amazing stories, and many works from those early stages still inspire modern creations. This week, we highlight two very influential films from the era.
Metropolis is an amazingly artistic and expressive film from 1927. The German movie was one of the first to illustrate the differences between social classes, in addition to depicting a dystopian future as opposed to a bright and hopeful one.
The movie follows an upper-class man as he leaves the comfort of the nobility’s area of the city, and explores the rest of his society in search of a woman. The main character, Feder, goes from the colorful (the movie was in black and white) extravagant world of nobility to the dreary (but still beautifully crafted) world of the working class.
Upon release, Metropolis was the most expensive film ever produced, and was praised for its artistic direction and technical achievements. The movie was originally fairly long at 153 minutes, yet international censors trimmed a significant amount of original content, leaving the film’s duration to a mere 118 minutes.
Metropolis set the foundation for many modern dystopian films, and its influence can be seen in movies like Brazil and Blade Runner.
Metropolis is available on Netflix and YouTube. (Be sure to watch the old version.)
Most people know Nosferatu from the singular scene in Spongebob (The episode with the Hash Slinging Slasher, in which the flickering of the lights is attributed to Nosferatu playing with the switches). In reality, the movie was an extremely well known horror film from 1922 about a vampire named “Count Orlock.” This one did NOT sparkle.
Nosferatu was praised for its directorial style, and the film itself, although not entirely scary, is definitely quite creepy. The movie opened to legal controversy, as it was originally supposed to be a Dracula film, yet was changed after the creators could not obtain the rights.
Nosferatu is available on Netflix and Youtube.