Metropolis Now: Dystopia and Sci-fi Noir

Metropolis (1927) Tower Of Babel

Metropolis (1927) Tower Of Babel

New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott has written a great article in this weekend’s NYT magazine: The Way We Live Now: Metropolis Now, in which he discusses the cinematic prophecies concerning the city as urban space in science fiction and the influence of film noir on the genre:

Architects and planners are by professional inclination both practical-minded and utopian. Their job is to solve problems, to ground their projects in collective hopes for a grander, cleaner, more rational organization of human space. The long-term results of their efforts, however, are typically ambiguous, yielding new problems on top of solutions. For much of the past century, the job of imagining the worst possible outcomes of their good intentions — of assessing the radically dystopian implications of urban progress — has fallen to film directors and production designers. They invent the city of the future not as a model but as a cautionary tale; and their future is the only future we know firsthand…

Scott goes on to discuss Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), the science fiction noir Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard 1965), and the more recent Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Code 46.

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