DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: "Metropolis" (1926)

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Ah, but it's not all state fairs and theme parks and mockingly bad cartoons, no. Old movies also show an equally aspirational and unlikely vision of the future. Check out the first couple minutes of this sequence from Metropolis:

When it came out in 1926, Metropolis was the most expensive film ever made, and also the biggest bomb. It depicted a future divided amongst haves and have-nots, between citizens of luxury and the proletariat, and then it gives us the jiffy-pop moral, "Between the head and the hands there must be a heart." It was not German Expressionist director Fritz Lang's best work, as he himself admitted on occasion.
It was audacious, however, and even though its failure set back the SF genre by decades, it's visual aspect and stunning production design paradoxically set the tone for virtually all SF films to come. It defined "SF" as a visual style, and by extention it gave us a sense of what the future looks like, what we think looks 'spacey'.
It also invented the sprawling urban jungle as a trope. Los Angeles 2019 from Blade Runner, New York of the 5th Element, and Coruscant from the Star Wars films all derive directly from the sprawling cityscapes in this film, as does Asimov's "Trantor," and Judge Dredd's "Megacities," and William Gibson's "Sprawl." It all dates back to this first example you can see above, and that whole example is centered - perhaps none-too-subtly - on "The New Tower of Babel" - the megatower at the center of the city. All these visions of the cities of tomorrow date from this one

In fact, the entire movie is available online here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKhGFu1-abw&feature=PlayList&p=771E3AB7D4... it's probably worth your while to check it out. It's a very mediocre classic as a narative, but as a primer in the visual aspect of the genre, it's a must

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