443/646: Architecture and Film
Dr. Caligari, The Golem, Metropolis
Please answer the questions below. Use paragraph form. Your answer should be around 400 words. Email me your responses in Word .doc format to: firstname.lastname@example.org I will be posting these each week after the class. You should be prepared to deliver your answer in class -- but paraphrase, do not read it.
In this first set of questions we are going to explore the general interpretation of "the uncanny" as we see it expressed in the films. We are therefore, in the end, going to attempt to define it. The word was first defined by Sigmund Freud as the "unheimlich" or "unhomely". This came to be associated with feelings towards the "haunted house" and was expanded to refer to feelings of discomfort arising from vacuous urban space, as it contrasted with the comfort and security of "home".
Not all of the questions will refer directly to this issue, but the questions are designed to lead into an understanding of the question.
updated 23-Dec-2007 9:36 AM
1. Adam Brady
Question: How does the Expressionist setting of Caligari give rise to feelings of discomfort that could be construed as either uncanny or "haunted"?
Beginnings of discomfort in Caligari come from the film’s ability
to stimulate the mind to question itself. The mind begins to question
its own ability to perceive what is real. The film is successful in this
nature by using an expressionist set design, comprised of dynamic compositions
- appearing as a world constructed from various works by Kandinsky.
2. Cassandra Cautius
Question: How do the soundtracks in Caligari (however faint behind the narration...), Golem and Metropolis support feelings of either comfort or discomfort in the films.
Similarities with regard to musical soundtrack are to be strongly found
within all three of the silent films. Scenes of lovers meeting or stealing
a moment are scenes characterized with the most lofty music and airy
tones. Alternately, scenes containing any of the golems created are scenes
of deep, dark and eerie music. Each film creates these feelings through
means of different sounds and effects. But each one runs within the musical
theme and vibe that particular film is attempting to promote. Without
spoken words in the film, the music is relied upon heavily to convey
the essential feeling of a scene. The dramatic introduction music
to Lang’s Metropolis opens to a scene of the worker’s city,
immediately this music is contrasted with light tones of the introduction
to the club of sons. Once the machine man takes on Maria’s
form, starting from the heart, the music makes a drawn out transition
into the chaos and anarchy that follows. The wilder the situation becomes
the more uncanny fake Maria’s behaviour, machine-like, distorted
and uncomfortable, the tempo increasingly picks up into epic music that
categorizes the scene. This continues, until the machine and inventor
are dead, lovers embrace, and one note is held until fade.
3. Alexander Chan
Question: In The Golem, is the main set of the house of Rabbi Loew (the one with the spiral staircase up to the roof) "homely" or "unhomely"? Why do you think this? What attributes of the space can you cite to support your stand. Is its impact on the viewer different from the exterior or interior?
The house was unhomely because of
the distortion of iconography between domestication and natural forces.
4. David Henderson
Question: Compare the house of Rabbi Loew with the house of the mad inventor in Metropolis 1927. Do either of these support Freud's idea of the haunted house? Explain your position.
Freud’s idea of the haunted house is a place in which one does
not feel comfortable in, but rather feels unsafe, and it is portrayed
quite clearly in both the house of Rabbi Loew from “The Golem” and
the house of the mad inventor in “Metropolis”. Both of these
houses are very unusual and are clouded with mystery. The forms and styles
of the architecture are unfamiliar and give the audience a feeling of
One theme that is common in both movies is the idea of creating life. Rabbi Loew and the mad inventor are both in the process of creating “monsters” in their “haunted houses”. This theme of unnaturally creating life, and the mysterious architecture of the houses are both major factors in creating this unsafe and unhomely feeling. Although I feel that the mad inventor’s house is a better example, both houses definitely qualify as haunted houses according to Freud’s definition.
5. Minwoo Lee
Question: Compare the trailer of Dr. Caligari with the factory of the mad scientist in Metropolis 2001. Do these environments support the notion of madness of the characters? Do you feel that either of these feeds more into the idea of the uncomfortable or uncanny than the other? Explain.
The visual construction of Dr. Caligari’s trailer and the factory of the scientist in Tezuka’s Metropolis are choreographed with devices to portray the inner world of the characters, predominantly, their shared sense of madness.
A distinct expression of the character’s madness is expressed
by their complete preoccupation with their obsession. As if to reflect
this singular drive, the trailer and the factory are devoid of features
associated with the typical activities of life, dedicating its entire
existence to their obsession. In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,
the somnambulist is the central feature of the space while the building
maintains only the most rudimentary elements of a dwelling; a window,
a door, and a lamp. Likewise, the factory in Metropolis is portrayed
as a machine built only to serve one purpose, the creation of Tima.
Although the trailer and the factory display a similar quality of madness, their expression of the uncanny is much different. The feeling of uncanny stems from the reaction of fear and uneasiness towards the unknown; necessarily, to evoke a sense of uncanny, topics of the unknown must be dealt with. This exploitation of the unknown is much more pronounced in Dr.Caligari’s trailer than it is in the factory of the scientist. Placement of elements associated with taboos such as the coffin, the necromantic manipulation of the somnambulist, and the disturbed world of the psyche represented in the set design strongly provoke the sense of uncanny.
The Metropolis, however, does not deal with the taboos as provocatively. The factory is not built around the idea of the unknown, but it is a machine that is built and controlled by the scientist. Thus, it is observed with a sense of technological aspiration rather than as a subject of fear. Even the potential sense of uncanny associated with artificial life, is turned into a subject of beauty and admiration through the celestial portrayal of Tima that is accentuated with an aura of light that surrounds her.
6. Paula Lee
Question: Caligari, Golem and 1927 Metropolis all place women in differing social roles in the film. How does this feed (or not) into any feelings of fear/propriety and the place of women in the films?
In the film, the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the female character Jane is described as a beautiful, but fragile being. She is loved by all men in the film and beauty is her only weapon from the dangers she faces, for example she is totally at the whim of Cesare when she faints in the shock of his presence in her room as she awakes from sleep. When Cesare threatens Jane with a knife, which he has already used to kill Alan, the fear of the viewers incline and reaches its peak witnessing a frail character being attacked by a monstrous character, helplessly. Similarly, in the film Golem: How he came to the world, the female character who is also described as being beautiful like Jane in the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, is helplessly kidnapped by Golem and is dragged by her braided hair in the streets of Prague. Such scene, like the other, provoke fear from its viewers as the main character, who is without resistance or any power to defend herself, is abused by an opposite character of power and uncontrollable temper. In the film Metropolis 1927, like other movies discussed above, is of beautiful appearance and mild character that is also defenseless and helpless from all the dangers of the world. For example, though people trust and adore her beauty, she is easily betrayed by the people that she had helped, though she has done nothing wrong or unrighteous, as they become wrapped up in despair and rage. Likely, she is kidnapped and is used by Rotwang in his evil experiment even though she does not deserve such treatment. The defenseless female characters overpowered by unexpected and undeserving danger from each movie further incline fear in the movies as the main character’s danger is felt by the viewers. In some ways women in these films resemble the beauty of Mother Mary, being innocent, non-threatening, beautiful in appearance and in character. Especially in film Metropolis 1927, Maria, as her name already hints her resemblance of the evangelical- Mother Mary, acts as a ‘mediator’ between the ruler and its people, taking the role of humanity’s mother that spreads hope, love and peace. Female characters in the three films share the common characteristics of beauty and helplessness thus inclining people’s sympathy and fear with their accountancies with dangerous situations.
7. Evelyn Lo
Question:The portrayal of the Golem and the robot version of Maria in Metropolis 1927 both use human actors to represent the "non human" beings. How do you feel that this works either to support, or not support, the belief that the beings being represented are truly robots/inhuman?
In the Golem and Metropolis,
both the Golem and Maria are artificially created beings – one at the hands of a
magician-type Rabbi, and the other at the hands of a mad scientist.
In both films, both artificial beings are portrayed by human actors
- The Golem by director/actor Paul Wegener and Machineman-Maria by
actress Brigitte Helm. Despite the use of human actors, their roles
as created, artificial beings are presented more convincingly, as human
actors encompass a greater realm of gestures and expressions that may
further enforce their disturbing non-human characters. The quality
of human likeness is determined generally by two things: human movement
and human appearance, and in both these roles the human actors are
believable as non-humans, as they adjust their movements and appearances
accordingly. For these characters to fall into the ‘uncanny
valley’ they must be striving towards perfect realism, creating
an image so close to reality excepting for minor features that then
protrude as unnatural and grotesque and so to cause discomfort to viewers.
8. John McFarlane
Question: Compare the nature of the scale models and sets in Caligari, Golem and 1927 Metropolis. How did this affect the believability of the larger urban spaces? If the uncanny also refers to a sense of fear in the sheer scale and anonymity of urban spaces, how does this figure into the method for making/representing these spaces?
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari uses wildly expressionist sets and models to create a sense of mental derangement that acts as an element of the development of the plot. The sets and scale models of The Golem, in contrast, are used to add a sense of historical realism to the film. The spectacular settings of Metropolis are used to give the film a fantastic and futuristic atmosphere.
All three films have successful settings when measured by their intentions, though only The Golem, intent on realism, uses its sets to contribute to the believability of the larger urban spaces. The broken reality displayed in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari deliberately avoids realism in order to convey what is revealed to be the insanity of the narrator. The exceptional scenes that emphasize this effect are those at the beginning and end of the film in which the narrator and the listener representing the audience are speaking in the more realistic asylum garden. The effect of these more normal scenes is to draw the viewer into believing in the sanity of the protagonist and the truth of his story. The expressionism of the story initially seems to be related to the tragic nature of the plot. At the conclusion of the film, however, the same twisted nature of the settings is revealed as a symptom of the insanity of the storyteller.
Both Caligari and The Golem are set in urban centers of the near and distant past, and both generally rely on effects other than the use of scale to convey the aura of unhomelyness that Freud analyzes. A possible exception is the wall surrounding the Jewish ghetto in the Prague of The Golem. Although the effect of the massive wall and gate could be considered as an uncanny threshold separating the Jewish section from the idealized Austrian section, the smaller scale of public spaces on either side of the wall provides a sense of intimate human scale such as that also seen in the small German town of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. As both a cause and effect, in both these films the predominant method of representing the spaces is through sets.
In Metropolis, the vast scale of the settings is a principle strategy to create an uncanny atmosphere in which the plot occurs. This film uses many scale models as well as very large sets to portray the uncanny and overlarge urban spaces of a precipitous capitalist future before a Marxist re-evaluation. Although The Golem makes some use of crowds to create the impression of anonymous Jewish city-dwellers, the effect of the anonymity of crowds is expanded exponentially in Metropolis to create a modern sense of loneliness within a crowd. The vast multitudes of workers create a faceless and nameless mob of labor. Because of their numbers, the revelers too become anonymous. The effect of the numberless crowds is first to emphasize the vast and teeming nature of the metropolis and second to combine individuals into groups representing concepts. This can be seen in the set design which shows regular and undistinguished buildings for most city-dwellers in comparison with the highly individualized dwellings of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Golem. The scale model scenes reinforce the feeling of anonymity by showing vast numbers of similar buildings (the obvious exception being the great central tower) and the bustling traffic that implies the extent and magnitude of the crowds.
9. Sava Miokovic
Question: Does the presentation of insanity in Caligari and the nature of the mad inventors in Golem, Metropolis 1927 and 2001, feed into feelings of the uncanny in the films? How does the reading of "insanity" compare to ideas of "haunted house" or "unhomely" that Freud might have been referring to in his definition of "the uncanny"?
presentation of insanity in the films strongly contributes to their feeling
of the uncanny. The portrayal of insanity is able to conjure a
sense of the uncanny because it is something we all fear. We fear
its consequences, the segregation that occurs from your inability to
communicate your thoughts and feelings with your peers and losing control
of yourself, being directed by external forces. It is something
that can happen to anyone at anytime without explanation. It is
comparative to the generation of the haunted house, we never expect a
house to become haunted but due to an unforeseen and unexplainable tragedy
the dwelling becomes forever doomed.
10. Reena Mistry
Question: Caligari's story is presented as a story within a story - ie. a story "framed" by a larger story. How does this feed into ideas of discomfort/uncanny? Would the story be as uncomfortable had it only been comprised of the middle section, without the justification/surprise presented by the frame? Explain.
The framed story in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari takes the viewer into an unsettling world of instability and contortion. The depiction of this world, its strange storyline and its eerie characters is enough to produce a level of discomfort; however it is the frame itself that immerses the unsuspecting audience into the uncanny.
To classify the tale as uncanny requires that the story is originally intended to seem ‘real’. The frame sets up Francis’ story as a retelling of his past by establishing the conventional relationship of trust between the narrator and viewer. The opening sequence portrays Francis as a relatively sane character, especially when contrasted by the ghostly introduction of Jane. Francis’ portrayal brings integrity to his character, and thus his story. Within the framed tale, though the story is strange, this trust between the narrator and viewer is built upon and affirmed by the heroic character of Francis. The sudden and unexpected betrayal of this trust occurs in the final sequences of the film when the framed story is revealed to be the sick fantasy of the narrator. Thus, the frame is essential in producing discomfort as it utilizes the narrator’s story as the intentionally deceptive tool which produces the uncanny.
The narrator’s betrayal of trust by the portrayal of his insanity continues to affect the audience with uncanny notions beyond the confines of the movie screen. The ambiguity of the film’s conclusion leaves the viewer with unanswered questions about the story just witnessed. The audience is left to wonder if any part of the tale was true at all, or if the fantasy was an entire construct of Francis’ ill imagination. Perhaps the audience hopes to believe that some part of the framed tale was true, in effort to justify their willingness to believe such a deranged tale from the mind of a madman; this exposes the ease at which a spectator can be manipulated by a film. Finally, the ambiguity leaves the viewer with a consciousness of the inability to establish truth from fiction, or real from unreal, thus leaving the audience with the uncanny truth that insanity is closer to reality than we would like to believe.
Thus, though the framed story provides the sense of discomfort, the framing story with its deranged plot twist and distorted reality is essential to the uncanny notions of the film.
11. Melissa Ng
Question: Metropolis 2001 seems to be set in an undefined time period. Its "scientific objects" reference base objects that are "old" (thinking of the modified telephone used by the Detective when operating on Tima), rather than clearly futuristic, as might be implied by aspects of the flying machines in the film. Do these contrasting sensibilities help to support a sense of unease in the film? Explain.
In Metropolis 2001, the contrasting sensibilities of “old” and futuristic objects create a sense of uncanny by confusing the viewer and their perspective on time in the film. Objects allow a film to be three-dimensional and identifiable as they represent time and a spatial frame of reference. The conflicting and contradictory manipulation of the time through the use of objects from different eras is able to create both a sense of ease and unease. Objects from the past in the film produce an identifiable sense; a world the viewer recognizes and is familiar with. Objects of the future create a sense of unease as they represent objects which are unusual, extraordinary, abnormal, and alien to our perceived memories.
The rotary dial antique telephone depicted in the hotel room rented by Kenichi’s uncle, is from the early twentieth century. The telephone links us to the past as an object representing a breakthrough in technology and communications during its era. The object still remains representative as a new technology in the film; however, its depiction as a scientific object used to connect machines to a greater mainframe pulls the viewer from their sense of ease in realizing that the once familiar object is no longer the same for the exception of its exterior shell. This technological transformation of the telephone is an indication that the present time is the future; a future where the time is unknown, unspecified, and unfamiliar.
Other objects in the film such as the old radio, which Tima finds in the underground trash, is representative of an era closer to our real time. The world portrayed becomes more recognizable and the object seems as a hint to understand the time and space in which the film is set. The radio creates a sense of ease, but a sense of unease as well. We are able to recognize objects such as the outdated radio (which appears to be recently discarded) but other objects in the film such as the futuristic television monitors and lasers remind us that the world is not our own. The radio is able to tell us that the world in the story is close to ours, but the futuristic objects push the ambiguity of space and time.
The objects in the film represent distinct time periods of both past and future which in turn creates a sense of uncanny. The contradicting objects of both the familiar and unfamiliar depict a story which is taking place beyond our world. Realism in film is often relative to the film’s true representation of time; Metropolis 2001 uses objects to confuse time to create a world beyond our own.
12. Aisling O'Carroll
Question: Compare the rendering of "faces" in the silent films to the differentiation of the face types in the Anime version of Metropolis. How are they the same/different? How does this impact the reading of the character roles in the films?
MEDIUM DIFFERENCES CHANGE HOW WE RELATE
The medium change between silent films and the animated version of ‘Metropolis’ greatly impacts how the viewer relates to and understands the story of the film. In the silent films, the faces on camera represent actual people and the viewer watches the story happen, while in an animated, cartoon film, the characters on screen are not replicas of individuals, and so it is easier for the viewer to relate to the characters based on their actions in the story. In Tezaku’s Metropolis this is emphasized even more with the contrast of the cartoon faces in front of a more detailed and realistic background. The characters in Tezaku’s version are also more abstracted from the recognizable human form since a large percent of the population are in fact robots, with whom we can only connect with their actions; as well as many of the human characters whose features and bodies are so exaggerated and stylized that they do not resemble a human and so we cannot attach them to individual existences, rather we understand them through their character and our own interpretation of the person in that character.
CLEARER FACES VERSUS DARKER, MORE PHYSICAL DISTRACTIONS
YOUNGER CHARACTERS MORE INNOCENT
EYES – EXAGGERATED – HELD FOR LONGER
13. Shannon Ross
Question: Compare the nature of the public spaces of the workers' level in Metropolis 1927 and 2001. How are they similar/different? How does the architecture support the idea of a class structure?
The film metropolis was originally made in 1927. It was envisioned to portray the future of its industrial society. Social class had changed during that time and at its extremes had become divisible into two categories, the worker and the patron. The director imagined this class division to increase and to become more uncanny. Thus giving rise to the exaggerated version of the future portrayed in the film. Where the workers became so disposable that they were treated as gears part of a larger machine. The theme of class division was carried through into the remake of the film in 2001. Except that the vision of Metropolis 1927 was no longer an extrapolation of the industrialized society of 2001. In this sense the two movies differ but both carry through the ambition to create a version of the future based on the current direction of its present society. Both films portray class division through architecture.
The nature of the public spaces of the worker’s level in the 1927 version of Metropolis is one of harsh and rough terrain, void of nature and its elements. It depicts a cavernous space, a completely artificial world, designed more as an exhaust chamber in a motor rather than a place akin to the spiritual desire of freedom humans relish in. In contrary the materials used in the architecture of the upper level allow natural light in. The higher ceilings create a sense of freedom and the large doors of the patrons’ office portray wealth.
Metropolis 1927 depicts more of a chiaroscuro version of the future. The patrons live above the ground while the workers live underground deprived of light. But in the Metropolis 2001 social class is more stratified because of the invention of artificial intelligence. This means that even though a human is considered a worker he/she is deemed more important than the robots. There are more physical levels as well as social class levels than the version of the film made in 1927. As we move down to the lower levels human presence becomes less and less evident. The architecture of the upper level is full of color and dense precision. Metal and glass dominate the facades and enforce the director’s vision to carry through the aspirations of the original film to attempt to predict the future of the industrialized society.
So the public spaces of the human workers are open to the sky in Metropolis 2001. Even though the large towers shadow them there is more color and more depictions of human interactivity. There are merchants and children playing. There are firework displays and festivals. But as we move underground the architecture mirrors more closely the original film because of the cavernous ambiance and the absence of natural light.
14. Terry Sin
Question: The expressionistic nature of the sets in Caligari can be seen to be more closely aligned with the character of the animated sets in 2001 Metropolis, than those used in 1927 Metropolis. Agree? Disagree? Comment.
I agree that the expressionistic sets seen the Cabinet of Caligari are more closey aligned with the animated sets of Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis, than those used in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Of course, they are definitely not as exaggerated as those in Caligari. Caligari’s sets are extremely styled renditions of regular settings, which reflect the ambience of the current scene. For example, jagged patterns in sets usually signified tense situations while smoother lines meant calm, such as scenes with Jane. Similarly the final cell that once held Caligari at the end of the movie also changes to reflect Francis’ new reality. On the other hand, 1927’s Metropolis involves sets that try to be realistic representations of the future. While Lang’s vision was still very much ahead of its time, many of the sets, including the cityscape were based on architecture during the age of the first skyscrapers. The giant machines of Metropolis may be seen as being loosely based on the power stations being constructed at the time. 2001’s Metropolis, while still trying to be a plausible representation of the future took many liberties with the stylizing of its sets, especially with the levels from Zone 1 and below. While this could be partly due to the style of anime, it is nonetheless an amplification of elements. The colour and general toning of the sets seem to reflect the events and emotions of the movie. During the more playful scenes at the beginning of the movie, Zone-1 is very colourful and vibrant. As the movie moves into darker themes involving Dr. Laughton, Zone-1 becomes a very dark and intimidating place, with pipes of the doctor’s laboratory snaking into the landscape. During Pero’s standoff of the coupe d’etat, the set becomes very cold in tone, while once it was very vibrant at the beginning of the film with a bustling community moving about the escalators. With the exception of the M-Machine monster, the sets in Lang’s Metropolis never truly reflect the ambiance of the film. An example would be the subterranean church. The same set is used in two very different scenes; one scene of hope and the other of anger and violence. Yet the cave does not become twisted or even darker at this moment. Thus, the sets of the Cabinet of Caligari seem to be more closely related to Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis as they are stylized to reflect moods, while those used in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis seem to be more concerned with reality.
15. Helen Tout
Question: Comment on the impact of colour on the reading of the differentiated levels in the environments presented in the 2001 version of Metropolis vs. the 1927 version.
The original 1926 black and white Metropolis differentiates the above
ground level from the workers level by how much light is shown. The surface
level is bathed in light depicting a freer environment and the workers
level is much darker and gloomier to heighten their despair and feelings
16. Jamie Usas
Question: Compare the portrayal of the workers accommodation (first level below ground) in the two versions of Metropolis. How do these work into the idea of the "homely" versus "unhomely"? Does one feel more uneasy or uncanny than the other? If so, then why?
Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, Metropolis and Rintaro’s 2002 adaptation, Metoroporisu portray the workers accommodations with an uncanny familiarity to our own world. Both films illustrate capitalist society as bourgeoisie occupying the ‘regular’ world and the proletariat being exploited in the wasteland beneath. Lang's Metropolis presents the modern capitalist city with an art deco aesthetic familiar of the films time. The worker's city underneath is presented in through a bare minimalism of shapes and shadows which create a sense of the uncanny through it's shocking similarity fortress-like concentration camp, filtering out any sense of life or vitality, leaving only the mechanical impressions of a capital driven society. Through the use of sets that come alive by the hand of the human fused to them, Lang clearly implies the android nature of human/industry. Rintaro’s 2002 Metoroporisu provides a different angle from which we may appreciate the uncanny. By modeling the city above ground after what appears as a western-like society and the city below ground an "Spadia Streetesque" eastern-society, an uncanny comparison is created regarding the relationship between the consumers and producers or our modern world. If given the choice, I would take the latter.
17. Susan Varickanickal
Question: How is differentiated architectural style used to represent varying levels of authority or power in both versions of Metropolis? Is this also a factor in Caligari and Golem?
In the both versions of the film “Metropolis”, the varying levels of authority or power are represented by differentiated architectural style. Grand skyscrapers built to the sky, is home to the wealthy, influential decision makers of the city. In both versions of Metropolis the endless tower reaching to heavens is the architectural style used to represent the highest level of power and authority in the City. They are the ones who oversee the city and decide on its fate. Being in the towers allows the people of power to look down on those below them, and oversee the city in its entire splendor. The tower also represents the opportunity for growth, as it is endless. They have the opportunity to grow and expand as the sky is their only limitation.
The dark, industrial architecture of the underground city is home to the labourers or working class of the city. Again in both versions of Metropolis, the compact, overcrowded, industrial buildings represent the lowest level of power in the city. In the anime version of Metropolis, the literal change in levels is more obvious as certain people or robots needed specific clearance to be on certain levels. The buildings are plain, overcrowded and lack splendor. The compact overcrowded architectural styles represent the lack of authority and wealth. There is a limit to their growth and are forced to look up at those in the towers who control the power.
Differentiated architectural styles are not as evident in Caligari and Golem, however they are still evident. Although the expressionistic art in the design of the set for the film Caligari is similar throughout the movie, one notices that the places with the greatest authority, such as the city clerks office or the police station, have architectural elements which are different then the places with the least authority or power, such as the carnival. In the city clerks office the clerk himself is elevated on a podium and then elevated even more by sitting on a high stool. This represents his high level of authority as city clerk. Also the scenes introducing the police station, the actors must walk up a set of stairs in order to reach the station, and upon arrival meet police officers who are also elevated on high stools. This again represents the high level of authority the police figures have. For those part of the carnival, like Cesare, and Dr. Caligari, they are situated on the outskirts of the city. The scenes introducing the carnival, the actors must travel downwards to in order to reach the carnival. This represents the lowest level of authority. Likewise in Golem, the creator of the golem lived in a tower, representing his authority over the golem. The golem however was created, and dwelled underneath the tower representing his lack of authority and power.
18. Chao Lun Wang
Question: Comment on the use of light/darkness and use of "shadows" in Caligari and 1927 Metropolis in creating a more fearful environment. How does this enhance the feeling of the uncanny or "haunted" in both expected/typical as well as unexpected/atypical ways?
The sense of the ‘uncanny’ is conveyed effectively by the inter play of light and dark and shadows in two iconic German expressionist films, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and 1927’s Metropolis.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Unexpected / Atypical
Expected / Typical
Unexpected / Atypical
Expected / Typical
19. Benjamin Wong
Question: In the two versions of Metropolis, compare and contrast the advantages/disadvantages of scale models versus animation in the creation of the more alienating elements of the subterranean environments.
The use of sets and filming techniques as Eugene Schufftan had in the 1927 film, Metropolis, is able to give the audience a more realistic view of the world imagined for 2027. Placing the characters in a scaled set has the advantage of allowing the audience to perceive a natural physical interaction between the actors and the created world of Metropolis. In a scaled set, actors are able to move through the world contained within walls, using it to enhance the expression of their body gestures. As opposed to the animated world in Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis, Schufftan’s version perhaps allows for a more personal interpretation of the experiences of the film’s characters, allowing one to relate to them on a human level. Although the animated aspect of Tezuka’s film might cause a certain level of detachment, it is able to present a world limited only by the imagination. This is essential in the depiction of the subterranean environment. Through the animation in Tezuka’s Metropolis, the world seen is perhaps most effective in its portrayal of the “uncanny”. The ingenuity of animation in its creation of the underground Metropolis completely infested with technology gives the audience an uneasy feeling. The animated environments are overwhelming as they approach reality. Another advantage of an animated film is its seamless portrayal of the characters and their environment, as the characters and their world are created in the same dimension. Schufftan’s Metropolis is at a disadvantage as the sets were built according to restrictions of the material world. Another point is the very stylistic approach of the set design, and its very clear link to Modernism and Art Deco. It seems as if the sets were created more as aesthetic works of art, more concerned with composition than portraying reality. Without the addition of animated environments available to film technology today, the set can also be seen as unsuccessful as a depiction of a possible reality. The uncanny aspect if much more present in the animated Metropolis through the level of detail in the machinery, which appears much closer to machines in the present day.
20. Erin Corcoran
Question: Compare the upper "aristrocratic" levels in the two Metropolis films. How does the architectural style support the differentiation of these areas of the city from the main and subterranean levels? Is one film more successful than the other at achieving this class differentiation through architectural style? If so why or why not?
Within the upper ‘aristocratic’ levels of Metropolis, the architecture in both films is first and foremost that of the skyscraper, containing within it the ideal of reaching upwards into the sky through pure human ingenuity and technology. Within the 1927 version, this ‘high architecture’ is presented through heavily detailed Chicago-style buildings (see image, top left), gravity-defying infrastructure, and grand neo-classical white stone athletic complexes and pleasure houses perched at the summit of these towers. Similarly in the 2001 anime, architecture is portrayed at its ‘best and brightest’ through a series of slender towers built to incredible heights and clad in perfectly detailed machine-fabricated glass, metal and stone. The tone within each of the two cities is that of the unbelievable, cities constructed to prove only that it can be done, and because of this, both are overshadowed by feelings of being larger-than-life and separated from the human scale. It is hard to imagine daily life within these environments, and within the films these environments can only be showcased with aerial views, panoramas and fly-through shots that are forced to quickly cut to the human activities involved in the plot.
In the underground layers of each city, buildings are architecture-less, either determined by random construction or based solely on their function. In the 1927 version, the workers housing units are designed as mere storage boxes for the people; grid-like towers, plain in construction, and driven by function in their design. In contrast, the lower city within the 2001 anime is highly decorated and disorderly, and completely unplanned. Instead of simply lacking a style like the 1927 film, the environment of the lower city in the anime is determined entirely by the people within it. It is a hodge-podge and is decorated by human hands, coated in graffiti and hashed together by convenience and available materials. It is lacking in architecture and unlike the upper city, its form is completely determined by the human scale. In the 1927 version, the differentiation between the cities is only made through a lack of ornamentation, and design and the lack of human scale is still present in both. In this way, the anime is much more successful in separating the lives of the upper and lower layers, one as defined by an excess of design, perfection in every detail, and the other, lacking design, an environment determined by chance and chaos.
21. Matthias Heck
Question: In Metropolis 2001, speak to the issue of the environment (degradation of buildings and waste) in the lower Zones. How does this relate to the 1927 version. Why do you think there is this change between the films?
In Tezuka’s version of Metropolis a dirty and waste-filled ambience
is shown in the lower levels, beginning in zone -1, the housing level,
where the oppressed underclass is living. It is a gloomy and discomforting
atmosphere and the pipes and the machinery that are part of the environment
try to communicate the image of a giant artificial machinery, that lies
under the bright surface of the upper city. The industrial character
is even more present in zone -2, the power plant level. Despite the decaying
and unappealing state of the environment, life seems to be more bustling
and uplifting than in the original Metropolis version. This might partly
be due to the fact that the movie itself is quite colourful (although
the workers seem to share the same fate in both versions). Still, the
2001 version is not as sinister as Lang’s version.
The worker’s zone in the 1927 version on the other hand is characterized by sterile and monolithic buildings, bare of any ornaments or traces of their inhabitants, the workers and their families. They seem to be reduced to anonymous numbers in the system. In contrast to the chaotic structure in the anime version, the dwellings in Lang’s version seem to be ordered and equated. Environmental similarities between both movies can be seen in the factories and the power plant zones: both have a clean and mechanical character.
One possible explanation for the change in the environment is that Tezuka tried to create a bigger visual contrast between the upper and lower stratum on a graphic level, hence the decline from level to level. A crucial quote from the anime version is: “It takes light to create shadow”. This statement can not only be seen as an explanation for the different light conditions and the different atmosphere that is created by that, but also as a general statement that extends beyond the obvious meaning to other opposed parts, for instance the environment. Furthermore, with some 75 years difference between the production of the movies, one has to see the different cultural background: Lang came from an post-industrial era in Germany where the issues of the workforce in a Marxist and socialistic sense had been an important topic, Tezuka however (or probably even more, director Rintaro) grew up in a modern and post-modern world (post WW2 in Japan), where environmental issues started to arise. So, when the 1927 version stood mainly as a warning for the rights of the workforce and a socialist view of the world, the 2001 version maybe added the aspect of the ongoing environmental pollution.
22. Lejla Odobasic
Question: In Metropolis 2001 the public urban space is presented very differently during the early part of the film and during the coup (winter scene). How has nature/time of day/brightness been used to create varying feelings of discomfort. Is there a particular seasonal effect that you feel lends itself more to feelings of discomfort? Why?
23. Suzanne Gibson:
Question: How does the representation of the eyes of the various characters in the 4 movies viewed thus far feed into the notion of either the uncanny or the uncomfortable?
The four movies: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Golem,
Metropolis, and Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis, use eyes to demonstrate
the difference between a healthy reality and unhealthy or unnatural reality.
I feel that the directors chose the human eye as it is one feature that
is clearly our own. Eyes are often used as a focal point, they
are the first thing we notice when speaking to someone, and when an individual
is photographed or documented the eyes are a point that the viewer is
sure to come back to, the eye is so familiar to us the viewer that when
altered or when it acts ‘unnatural’ it is one of the first
things we notice. When
something as familiar as the human eye becomes alien to the viewer the
notion of uncanny and discomfort is often the result.
24. Kate Gould:
Question: Part of what makes scenes in a film feel uncanny arises from the feeling of deja vu. Also known as "doubling". Would the closing sequence in the Anime version of Metropolis have felt the same pre 9/11?
The 2001 anime version of Metropolis features
a most uncanny moment in film history. In the final scenes a
great tower, the “ziggurat”, is destroyed in a moving sequence. This
tower has important symbolism and represents the pinnacle of man’s
achievements in the city. This scene is particularly disturbing
as it presents a most ruthless and inhuman destruction, but then juxtaposes
it with the music of Ray Charles. Furthermore, a sense of déjà vu,
or “doubling”, is felt by the modern audience, as this
is uncanningly similar to our real life experiences of 9/11. As
this event was so emotional and everyone can personally relate to this,
the scene in Metropolis begins to take on a deeper
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