Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Directed by: Rintaro
Release Date: May 2001 (Japan) / January 2002 (UK)
Running Time: 109 minutes

Plot Summary

"Metropolis is a story of how important emotions are and how they separate humans from everything else. The movie follows a young boy and his uncle (a private investigator). The story is set in the far future where humans and robots live together, unfortunately not in harmony. Many robots are forced underground and are terminated for entering unauthorized areas. They are more or less servants to humankind. The plot starts to unfold when the boy meets a robot named Tima and they get in all kinds of trouble. Never a dull moment when you've got a robot by your side." 1

Metropolis is based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka (Astroboy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack), and you can see that they have remained true to his artistic style throughout the film. They did not stay completely true to his story though. In Tezuka's original manga, the story revolves around a humaniod named Mitchi who has the ability to fly and swap sexes. Whereas this adaptation revolves around a boy and female robot. Tezuka said that he did not what his manga to be made into a film, so they waited until he passed away in 1989 to do this adaptation. The film was also scripted by Katsuhiro Otomo, best known for his manga Akira, and directed by Rintaro, also known for the film adaptaion of X, so an all star cast went towards this animation.

"The legend surrounding the comic book is that the so-called God of Manga Osamu Tezuka saw a poster or Fritz Lang's classic silent film Metropolis and based his book on that alone: he never saw the film. Watching it, it is nearly impossible to believe that he was able to fashion such a similar artwork out of that single image.The story, at its base, is quite close, and while there are distinctly Japanese elements as well as several layers of the story that were not in the original, the similarities are shocking." 2

Visually this film is gorgeous and it mixes traditional 2-D with CGI. One thing that stands out is the extreme detail that the animators go to, and it really immerses you in the film. Also the juxtaposition between the short chubby like people with the highly rendered background makes for even more interesting viewing. "The lanscape of Metropolis is pure eye-candy. As mono rails and airships criss cross overhead, people go about their business among terraced skyscrapers and fanciul buildings, which surround the wide throughfares. The dark lower levels are filled with equally dark characters and the sound of jazz and be-bop music can be heard rolling along the narrow, crowded streets."3 Added to all this gorgeous viewing is a jazz music score, giving it an odd but stunning twist. During the film's climatic scene of the Ziggurat crumbling down the song "I Can't Stop Loving You" performed by Ray Charles, a gorgeous song and a stroke of genius to add it to that moment.

One of the big themes that this film tackles is: What does it mean to be human? Tima comes to a horrific awareness to the ways that humans treat robots, she sees that the horrible things happening to them would happen to her. So it is only logical what happens at the end of the film when you see it from Tima's point of view. Much like Spielberg's A.I. , this film questions the way in which humans and artificial intelligence integrate together. It also shows the weakness and powers of human nature and the ever present danger from ego, greed and selfishness. Other themes include Class Division. Mechanisation has made the division between rich and poor even larger, the poor become poorer as they cannot find work that isn't already being dome by robots. The lessons from this film, as said in many a sci-fi film before it, the arrogance of man will bring about his downfall.