What Metropolis (2001 Film) Teaches Us About “Connection, Identity, and The Meaning of Color”.

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Who are your main characters and what do they represent within the story?

Film is such an amazing experience to watch, create, and direct. Especially genres you’ve come to love and adore since you were a child. The interesting thing about cinema is that your able to create shorts, animations, trilogies, or movies. With each having there on merit of expertise. Franchises like the movie “Alien” hold a cultural relevance of the late 70’s and early 80’s with its visual effects mainly being prosthetics. Directed by the infamous creator, Ridley Scott and the art by H.R Giger. To the Xenomorphs, to the carefully crafted ship, to the eerie atmosphere all stitch together a work of art. After this entry the audience should understand the power of film, why color is such an important component to storytelling, and finally, the importance of defining your main character/characters within the narrative.

(Osamu Tezuka manga but directed by Rintaro)

Introduction

Believe it or not, Metropolis has three different versions of its narrative. The common thread among all of them is economic, ecological, and technological progress. The era in which it is set almost seems like a 1950s film. This allows it to be its own unique thing in animated cinema. The first version of Metropolis was made and created by Fritz Lang in 1927. The second one was made by Osamu Tezaka. The last edition was revitalized and re-imagined by Rintaro based on the work of Osamu Tezaka in 2001. Luther and Andrew (2012) “Nevertheless, this cinematic imagining of future conditions of life continues to resonate strongly as the film keeps attracting spectators and critical attention, thereby offering us a significant opportunity to analyze the ideological foundations upon which we have constructed our notions of human society, including our approaches to ecology”.

Tima’s Beautiful Anomaly and Fated Destruction

As Tima is catapulted into the story without meaning or awareness, her radiant glow searches through the chaos. Created for one reason, but is given the opportunity to be something else. Her glow is defined as a memorable sequence for the audience to take in and remember. Brito and Cho (2017)”Color is one of the cognitive storytelling elements, its interpretation is captured by the subconscious and it is considered an emotional resource due to its psychological background. On the other hand, the character is also part of cognitive perception and storytelling tool, but this is interpreted consciously, character is considered as a logical resource”. Metropolis itself is a heavily industrialized world where technological advancement exceeds that of the human population. Making robots more suitable for it. Carefully look at the vibrant colors above the city and the dim colors below. They can be used interchangeably to define what’s important. Notice the massive buildings Rintaro displays to show expansion and clutter systematically. Tima, a few times throughout the film, is able to shine so brightly, giving vibrance to the city around her. I understand that Tima is a tool to be used and not to be treated as a human that would have their own thoughts and desires. Her revelation is learning she is not human but somewhere in between after being shot by Rock. Her silver tears represent the loss of her identity. Brito and Cho (2017) “Red conveys more anger, passion, happiness, whereas pink conveys a softness, charm, or courtesy. Moreover, in the world of animation, the color is usually used to emphasize certain objects or people in order to convey stronger feelings to the viewer. The main role played by the color within an animation is to convey emotions and feelings. However, they depend on the physical values of each individual, their social context and subjectivity of the observer. Josef Albers8)”.

As Kenichi attempts to grab onto the rageful Tima, hanging for her life, he tells her to grab his hand. This specific scene is taking place over the explosive city of Metropolis, with its red and orange hues. Pieces of the massive building were falling down around them. She finally looks up at Kenichi, saying, “Who am I?”. Having lost his grip, Tima falls to her demise with her consciousness intact instead of without. Kenichi later tries to find Tima’s remains in the vast debris below but is unsuccessful in his efforts. “Better to have loved than not at all”. 

How is Metropolis Being Used

“Andrew and Luther (2012) “[The logical reason an] industrial capitalist society is sustainable so long as it is infused with humanism”]. You will soon learn that the main character, Tima, was the full embodiment of that ideology in theory. At the moment she met Kenichi, it was a human experience. One without control, a guide but an accident. There’s a beautiful sequence where Kenichi and Tima are trying to escape the trigger-happy “Rock” in the barracks down under. Showing their progress in a story that has yet to tell them what’s happening. Eventually in the film, it begins to snow, which seems like a very natural thing that should happen. Although it comes off as empty and desolate. Creating an atmosphere of sorrow, after they find Pero shot and killed. Andrew and Luther (2012) “We may desire a position and perspective outside of systems—ecological, political, or economic—from which to issue cautionary warnings to ourselves, but somehow the formal composition of such cautionary narratives undermines, and thereby makes visible, the impossibility of this same desire. In other words, we see in the panoramic shots of Metropolis the contradictory imagination of ourselves as exterior to and uninvolved in this place as well as interior to and complicit with it”.

Conclusions

Not only does Metropolis explore a possible industrial future, but it does it through color. The film is able to show you massive caverns of industrial trash that have gone unused. While at the same time showing the president’s residency above the clouds. From my analysis, Metropolis was able to explore technological advancement through a multitude of colors. There’s a specific scene where Tima is able to go into the circuit system to find Kenichi. Showing the audience beams of color, ranging from red, blue, and yellow to emphasize Tima’s prowess. The addition of jazz throughout the film also added a beautiful redesign of the environment. Changing our perception of a cluttered city. I believe the film wanted us to answer the looming questions of how we see ourselves, robots, and the environment. Colors are able to show importance within a story or growth and progression within a character.

(Questions to think about)

How can you show progression on a character without telling the audience?

What do you think the robots represent in the film by reading the article?

Bibliography

Hageman, Andrew, and Luther College. “Science Fiction, Ecological Futures, and the Topography of Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis.’” 1Library.Co, Ecozon@, 10 Sept. 2012, https://1library.co/document/lq55n5wq-science-fiction-ecological-futures-topography-fritz-lang-metropolis.html.

Yahaira Moreno , Brito, and Cho Dong-Min. “Visual Narrative as a Color Storytelling in Disney and Ghibli Studios.” Cartoon and Animation Studies, The Korean Society of Cartoon and Animation Studies, 31 Dec. 2017, https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201708160569606.page.

2 thoughts on “What Metropolis (2001 Film) Teaches Us About “Connection, Identity, and The Meaning of Color”.

  1. Hi J.C. I love reading about animation film analysis! Specifically ones that are towards anime and J-horror. I won’t lie, although I took two years of Japanese and lived in Kyoto I never really got that into anime. There is the exception that I really enjoy Studio Ghibli films (but who doesn’t) and have watched a couple short anime films, but either then that I don’t know all that much about anime.

    “As Tima is catapulted into the story without meaning or awareness, her radiant glow searches through the chaos.” – I love that, it already makes me wanna watch it. With that said, if I tried to answer the question, “How can you show progression on a character without telling the audience?” I would respond with we can tell this from emotional development between characters and the self. We can look for changed perspectives, acceptance of circumstances or the lack thereof. Many Japanese films have a great way of leaving things open to interpretation. As my Japanese Professor Satoh-sensee said, “People in Japan go to movies to cry and feels things.”

    1. I learned to love anime a lot more than I did in the past. I believe anime explores a lot of different stories and emotions that vary to that of the America’s. For example, the concept of hate, rage, vengeance, true sadness and other emotions.

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