Seeing Metropolis in the Metropolis!

I’ve been revising a manuscript that is out on submission to editors, and that’s going pretty well, but it’s really dull to talk about–hey, I removed this person’s motivation and bolstered that one’s–so I thought I’d talk about something really cool I experienced last night.

(And just realized this is our Anniversary Week, and totally forgot to stay on topic! But, you know, that’s par for my course, so there you go).

Metropolis was made in 1927 by Fritz Lang, a classic film revered by film buffs and critics and such. I knew of it, but had never seen it. So last night, in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, they showed the restored version of Metropolis while Alloy Orchestra played the soundtrack live. And I got to see it.

It was incredible. It’s hard to imagine this film was made twenty-three years before Akira Kurosawa–another ahead-of-his-time innovator, and one of the best directors ever–achieved accolades for Rashomon. Plus, even though it took place in some version of a mechanized future, it resounded with implications for the Regency world–at one point, there is mention of the Upper Ten Thousand–and the society’s stratification is ghastly and inviolate. Like the Regency’s could be, unless a governess rose above her station to fall in love with a duke, and vice versa.

The clip above is when the “Man-Machine” is given the form of a human, and brought to a high society nightclub to dance.

I would definitely have not enjoyed the movie so much if it weren’t shown in the park on a lovely summer evening with amazing music being played. But the movie does make you think about industry, and religion, and class structure, and mechanization, and all sorts of things. Plus, it looks really, really cool.

PS: I am glad to offer a copy of my long out-of-print book, A Singular Lady, to a randomly-selected commenter who says what their favorite dance scene is in a film.

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11 years ago

My favorite dance scene in a film is in Dirty Dancing when Johnny dances the last dance with Baby.

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

What a fabulous treat to see Metropolis the way you did. Envy here!

Favorite dance scene in a film? That’s a tough one!

From the King and I (Deborah and Yul) the Shall We Dance scene! LOVE it!

Darcy and Elizabeth’s dance from the 2005 P&P film.

The dance scene in The Princess Diaries where she has to dance with all of the eligible bachelors always cracks me up!

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Wow. What a fabulous clip. The Twenties was such a bawdy era!

Favorite dance scene? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to Let’s Face the Music and Dance.

A close second? Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly

Jo's Daughter
11 years ago

I really like the tango between Colin Firth’s & Jessica Biel’s characters in the movie Easy Virtue.

Her husband refuses to dance with her, she bravely attempts to dance on her own for a second or two. And then her father in law offers his hand…

Such a powerful dance, at such an awkward moment in their lives. Surrounded by disapproaval, such passion and emotion. Awesome!

11 years ago

A favourite dance in a film for me is when Jack and Kate go dancing in the third class cabin in TITANIC. They looked so at ease and even though Kate stood out with her elegant dress she was happy and at ease. The time period really came to life for me.

11 years ago

I like the old films so I will go with a classic Gene Kelley’s Singing in the Rain.

Cathy P
Cathy P
11 years ago

I also like the old movies, so I would have to say Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Can’t remember the dance names or the name of the movies, but loved them.

Also really loved the dancing in Princess Diaries 2. It was hilarious to watch.

11 years ago

I would have to say my favorite dance scene is at the end of Dirty Dancing when Johney says nobody puts baby in a corner and then they dance. It was just awesome.


Susan in AZ
11 years ago

In the movie, Hope Floats, Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick dance. This is just after her husband dumped her and she is beginning to come out of her depression. They both have such expressions of hope during the dancing.

11 years ago

Wow, that is an awesome clip! How fun, in the park w/ a live orchestra!

I think my two favorite musicals are White Christmas and Singing in the Rain. Singing in the Rain’s Good Morning probably tops it.

Rosie Hong
11 years ago

My favorite dance scene is the scene in Strictly Ballroom when the main couple dance behind-the-scenes to Doris Day’s “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”.

Katherine Bone
11 years ago

Oh, I got goosebumps envisioning your night watching Metropolis in the park and your mention of the greats of early film production. My grandfather used to play piano in the theatre for silent movies, way back when. So I feel a kinship with this art form.

Favorite dance scene? I was going to say Dirty Dancing too, but so many have mentioned it here. My next favorite would have to be from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers during the Barn raising. Love that movie and especially Howard Keel!

11 years ago

That was interesting. Out of necessity, everything was so over acted in the silent films. It still got the point across. When you think how that clip would be done today, there really isn’t a more effective was to do it. It would be smoother, not as over acted, but really wouldn’t make the point any better. Thank you for sharing it with us.

My favorite dance scene, just about anything Fred Astaire did either solo or with the Ginger Rogers.

Barbara Monajem
11 years ago

Wow. I want to see that movie. I wonder if it’s available On Demand…

And Rashoman! I saw the play performed at the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta. Superb!!! I’ll never forget it. I didn’t know there was a film, but now I’m all gung-ho to see it.

11 years ago

What a neat film clip. Thanks for posting. My favorite dance scene is Rhett and Scarlet at the fund raiser when she is still in mourning, and Rhett bids to have the dance with her.

11 years ago

Have you guys seen Strictly Ballroom? This is one of my favorite dance scenes, and movies: