Though he made movies up until 1960, director Fritz Lang is best known for his visionary work in his early days, especially Metropolis. The design of Maschinenmensch, the main robot character, looks like retro-classic science fiction design today. But honestly, how would you change it if you dared to remake this movie? For his groundbreaking futuristic ideas, as well as his other iconic movies, Fritz Lang is inducted into the Pop Culture Hall of Fame as a Legend for 2023.
The visual effects in Metropolis, made almost a century ago (1927) hold up incredibly well. Mixtures of miniature sets of huge cities, smoke and mirrors, and brilliant costuming paint a vivid dystopian landscape from which the story can spin. The above-ground views of Metropolis show a shimmering, futuristic place of hope, but one that already seems overcrowded and claustrophobic.
It’s genuinely hard to believe Metropolis was released almost a century ago. Its futuristic automatons, cityscapes, and machines were the inspiration for many later sci-fi classics like Doctor Who, Blade Runner, Brazil, and more recently Loki.
In 1929, Lang’s film Woman in the Moon featured a multi-stage rocket launch from an upright position with a countdown clock. Who knows how much that influenced real rocket scientists decades later?
1931’s M was an incredible early example of paranoid film noir, following the lead character around town as the walls close in on him following a horrific murder he committed early in the film. Despite several long sequences, it was not a silent film as may remember. It also included characters whistling a familiar tune as they passed each other in the street to alert them that he was in the area.
Lang would go on to make movies into the early 1960s. His ability to fill the moviegoer’s heart with dread and suspense was really on par with Alfred Hitchcock.
Despite color films dominating the cinema as he got older, he still preferred to work in black and white, having mastered the moody tones since his early days. Oddly enough, in 1984, the film found a new generation of fans when it was released in theaters with the scenes in different scenes tinted to different, subtle colors to convey the dread, entitlement, or heroism of different locations. A soundtrack of recent rock classics was carefully weaved in, and darned if it didn’t work.
If Lang’s movies just held up for great storytelling, he would be considered a creative genius. For his ability to create indelible visions that continue to inspire other filmmakers for over a century, Fritz Lang is inducted into the Pop Culture Hall of Fame for 2023.