March 02, 2006

Top films from the past 2005 (5): a digression

7. Manhatta (Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, 1921)

Some savvy soul at Kino paired this early city symphony after Whitman with the music from the previous video version of Metropolis. The influence of this short film on Lang's sf epic now seems to me to be immense.

The arrival of the workers.

The old church in the modern city.

Babel and the skyscraper.

These next two are a bit more tenuous.

Manhatta has a sequence of steam rising from rooftops with clouds of vapor enveloping the camera, reminiscent of the shot of the steam whistle in Metropolis.

This shot reminds me of the aerial views of Metropolis' elevated roads. (I seem to remember that Metropolis also had an el.)

Apparently the story of Metropolis being inspired by Lang seeing the New York skyline is as truthful as his tale of fleeing Nazi Germany right after Goebbels offered him control of German film. But I think he did see the skyscrapers of New York. He saw them in Manhatta.


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