Sam Houston State’s Department of Mass Communication is to screen the film Metropolis followed by a brief discussion conducted by Visiting Assistant Professor of German, Ervin Malakaj and Assistant Professor of Mass Communication Grant Wiedenfeld. The event is free to the public and takes place Friday, January 29, 6:00 p.m. at Old Town Theatre on 12th Street.
The Metropolis event is a part of a series started back in fall 2014 in which the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication and the Old Town Theatre work together to show 2-3 classic films per semester from all over the world. The film series is tied to a class SHSU offers, “Film History and Criticism”. The class is taught by Wiedenfeld and will become a part of the core curriculum for film majors next fall.
The community will be able to witness a classic with the new equipment that the theatre received.
“The course is part of Academic Community Engagement, a university outreach program,” Wiedenfeld said. “The intention is to share film culture with the community by presenting great movies with high-quality projection (we now have a 4k projector installed), accompanied by discussion with SHSU faculty.”
Metropolis is a silent film and was made in 1927 by German director Fritz Lang.
“The legend behind the making of Metropolis is that Lang was flabbergasted when he visited New York City, awed by the city’s density and the height of skyscrapers,” Wiedenfeld said. “He had a nightmare of a future where machines hold all the power, and people are their servants. The film is a wonderful realization of that vision, with fantastic sets and costumes in a retro-futuristic style.”
The movie is set in a futuristic city- Metropolis around 2026, sharply divided between the common laborers and the city planners. A young man, Freder, whose father is the founder and master of Metropolis falls in love with a commoner robot, Maria.
“The film depicts a riveting dystopian future in which humans fully gave in to consumer culture,” Malakaj said. “Class segregation is at an extreme, but the potential of human empathy exists and the film carefully shows how it breaks down barriers and to rebuild communities destroyed by segregation.”
Although this film was made close to 90 years ago, Malakaj expressed that it still holds significance in this day in age. Familiarization of this time period will help the viewer better understand why this film continues to carry a strong message.
“The film’s extreme depiction of consumerism, capitalist dominance, and classism is as relevant for today’s American viewers as much as it was for German viewers in the 1920s,” Malakaj said. “The film’s message that human love has the capacity to shatter all sorts of barriers, figurative and actual, is relevant for our world today because we continue to find ways to draw lines between people.”
Members and President, Khoi Nguyen, of the SHSU Film Society plan to attend the event.
“I think it’s important because it will keep the community engaged,” Nguyen said. “It gives the students a chance to attend something at a historic place like the old town theater rather than just watching it on a TV at home.”
Malakaj acknowledges the fact that this event is unique and encourages students to take advantage of this screening.
“This is an immense opportunity to watch one of the most important (and most discussed) films in European film history on the big screen—in Huntsville,” Malakaj said. “In a world in which we feel the distance between us and others deepen because of the consumerist technologies drawing us away from our communities, the film might inspire us to step back out into the world.”
The event will take place Friday, January 29, 6:00 p.m. at Old Town Theatre on 12th Street.
“Metropolis is one of the most fascinating films I’ve encountered,” Malakaj said. “It is an emotional film, a philosophical film and a cult film that fascinated cultural scholars and popular artists alike for decades after its first screening.”