sometimes, my train of thoughts wanders in the most random directions. last time, this happened as i was listening to one of biskuwi’s tracks. from there, i somehow ended up watching a colorized sequence of 1927’s metropolis synced to techno music, and i was utterly mesmerized by its aesthetics. while i’m not typically a fan of silent films, i decided to check if there was a recent adaptation, and that’s when i discovered the 2001 anime version.
the trailer, unfortunately, did not do justice to the film. it presented a misleadingly cartoonish look, which in hindsight, was a result of poorly chosen shots. however, if you manage to push past this initial barrier (i used microsoft movies and tv for that), you’ll find yourself immersed in a beautifully drawn, organically animated 50s style cartoon. it reminds me of both astroboy for its visuals and fantasia for the fluidity of motion. the colors are vibrant, and surprisingly, a prevalent theme emerges: robots taking mankind’s jobs.
the story unfolds at a deliberate pace, initially appearing somewhat dull, with an almost post-purchase dissonance. soon, though, it plunges into action, following a japanese private investigator’s nephew who stumbles upon the de facto leader of metropolis commissioning an android surrogate daughter. this daughter, it turns out, is instrumental in a terminator-style uprising of the machines. while the uprising is ultimately prevented through the boy’s humanity, this is not your typical hollywood movie. there are several subplots left unresolved or concluded hastily, and a multitude of characters with interesting, lightly touched-upon themes.
a permeating christian overtone stems from the tower of babel biblical story, with a few visually stunning scenes inspired by christianity that left their vivid afterimages lingering in my mind for a long time.
metropolis 2001 is, above all, a visual experience. personally, i was expecting more of the skyscraper aesthetics from the original film’s imagery. while there are a few, none quite match the magnificence of brutalist art deco. what struck me most was the meticulously planned and lengthy choreography for every character’s motion, even the most basic ones. it’s mesmerizing to watch, surprising every single time through intricate, fluid, ballet-like movements, making the metropolis animation a worthwhile investment of time.
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