German Expressionism is a unique film style that came out of Weimer Germany, the period between World War I and World War II. It focused mainly on the visual aspects on the screen meant to express emotions that trigger more personal reactions from the audience. According to David Hudson, German expressionism was an exploration "into juxtaposing light and shadow" as well as madness and obsession in an urban setting complete with complex architectural structures. When Fritz Lang's Metropolis was released in 1927, Luis Buñuel wrote that, "if we look instead to the compositional and visual rather than the narrative side of the film, Metropolis exceeds all expectations and enchants as the most wonderful book of images one can in any way imagine" (Hudson). The narrative is supported by the visual images, but more importantly, they are also credited for creating it. It is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. Mise-en-scene is the composition or everything that is visible within the frame. In this paper I will show how Metropolis was impacted by mise-en-scene in the following ways: setting, staging, lighting, and costumes .
The setting establishes inequality among the classes through its use of locations. The workers have their own city deep below the surface of the earth. When their scheduled shift is over they travel in unison down to this city using several massive elevators. Upon exiting the elevators a bland, rudimentary city comes into view. All of the buildings are identical in the same way that the workers are forced to be. There is no plant life, meaning the streets are just barren cement, aside from the large warning bell in the center of the square. This alarm being the focal point of the entire city foreshadows the impending crisis that is going to occur between the classes. The worker's living conditions are undesirable, but their working conditions are even worse. They must transform into human robots to operate the cold hard... [continues]
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