Metropolis (2001 film)

Metropolis
Metropolisanime poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRintaro
Produced by
Screenplay byKatsuhiro Otomo
Based onMetropolis
by Osamu Tezuka
Starring
Music byToshiyuki Honda
CinematographyHitoshi Yamaguchi
Production
company
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • May 26, 2001 (2001-05-26)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
Budget$15 million[1][2]
Box office$4 million (North America)[3]

Metropolis (メトロポリス, Metoroporisu) is a 2001 Japanese science-fiction anime action film loosely based on the 1949 Metropolis manga created by Osamu Tezuka, itself inspired by the 1927 German silent film of the same name, though the two do not share plot elements. The anime, however, does draw aspects of its storyline directly from the 1927 film. (Also, Toho-Towa Distribution, the foreign film distribution division of the anime's distributor, Toho, has handled distribution of the 1927 film in Japan.[4]) The film was directed by Rintaro, written by Katsuhiro Otomo and produced by Madhouse with conceptual support from Tezuka Productions.

Plot

Humans and robots coexist in the futuristic city of Metropolis, although robots are discriminated against and segregated to the city's lower levels. A lot of Metropolis' human population are unemployed and deprived, and many people blame the robots for taking their jobs.

Duke Red, the unofficial ruler of Metropolis, has overseen the construction of a massive skyscraper called the Ziggurat, which he claims will allow mankind to extend its power across the planet. A wayward robot disrupts the Ziggurat's opening ceremony, only to be shot down by Rock, Duke Red's adopted son and the head of the Marduk Party, a vigilante group whose aim is to promote anti-robot sentiments. Private detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi travel to Metropolis to arrest Dr. Laughton, a mad scientist wanted for organ trafficking. Unknown to Shunsaku, Duke Red has hired Laughton to build an advanced robot modeled and named after Red's deceased daughter Tima. Red intends for Tima to function as a central control unit for a powerful secret weapon hidden in the Ziggurat. However, Rock learns of Tima's existence and, not wanting a robot to overshadow Red, shoots Laughton and sets fire to his laboratory.

Shunsaku comes across the burning laboratory and discovers the dying Laughton, who gives Shunsaku his notebook. Meanwhile, Kenichi finds the activated Tima. The two fall into the sewers and are separated from Shunsaku. While Shunsaku searches for his nephew, Kenichi and Tima search for a way back the street level. They grow close as Kenichi teaches Tima how to speak. Neither are aware she is a robot. The two are hunted relentlessly by Rock and his subordinates, and encounter a group of unemployed human laborers who stage a revolution against Red.

The president and the mayor of Metropolis try to use the revolution to overthrow Red and gain control of Metropolis, but they are assassinated by the president's top military commander, General Kusai Skunk, who has sided with Red. The duke then imposes martial law to suppress the revolution. In the aftermath of the failed revolt, Kenichi reunites with Shunsaku, only to be wounded by Rock, who reveals Tima to be a robot. Rock, however, is disowned by Red and stripped of his command of the Marduks for attempting to kill Tima. Duke Red takes Tima away to the Ziggurat.

Still determined to dispose of Tima and regain his father's affection, Rock kidnaps and deactivates Tima, who is now confused about her identity. Shunsaku rescues her and, after following instructions from Laughton's notebook, reactivates Tima. The two discover Kenichi is being held in the Ziggurat, but are then captured by Duke Red and the Marduks on their way to save him. Brought to the top of the Ziggurat, Tima confronts Duke Red about whether she is a human or robot. Duke Red tells her she is a "superhuman" and destined to rule the world from her throne. Disguised as a maid, Rock then shoots Tima, exposing her circuitry.

The sudden shock of realizing she is a robot causes Tima to go insane. She proceeds to sit on the throne, where she orders a biological and nuclear attack on humanity. While the others flee, Kenichi tries to reason with Tima. Robots drawn by Tima's command attack Duke Red. Not wanting his father to die at the hands of "filthy robots", Rock kills himself and Duke Red in a massive explosion. As the Ziggurat starts to collapse around them, Kenichi finally reaches Tima and separates her from the throne. Seemingly lost, Tima tries to kill Kenichi, but falls off the tower in the struggle. Out of love for her, Kenichi tries to save Tima and pull her up using one of the cables still grafted to her. As the cable begins to fray, Tima remembers the time Kenichi taught her language and asks Kenichi, "Who am I?", before she loses her grip and falls to her presumed death. The Ziggurat collapses, destroying a large part of Metropolis.

In the aftermath, Kenichi searches the ruins and discovers a group of robots have salvaged some of Tima's parts in an effort to rebuild her. While Shunsaku and many other human survivors are evacuated, Kenichi chooses to remain behind; he eventually rebuilds Tima and opens a robot workshop.

Differences between manga and anime

In Tezuka's original manga, the story revolves around a humanoid named Mitchi, who has the ability to fly and change gender. Mitchi is pursued by Duke Red and his "Red Party" who intend to use Mitchi for destructive purposes. However, Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi find Mitchi after her creator, Dr. Charles Laughton, is killed and protect her as they search for her parents. Unlike Tima's desire to be human, the cause for Mitchi's destructive rampage in the manga's climax is the revelation that, as a robot, she does not have parents.

However, this cinematic adaptation of Tezuka's story integrates far more elements from the Fritz Lang film Metropolis.[5] When making the original Metropolis manga, Tezuka said that the only real inspiration he got from Fritz Lang's Metropolis was a still image from the movie where a female robot was being born.[6] In addition to adopting set designs of the original film, this version has more emphasis on a strong and pervasive theme of class struggle in a dystopian, plutocratic society and expands it to examine the relationship of robots with their human masters. (This relationship was explored by Tezuka in great detail with his popular series Astro Boy.) The anime adaptation also removes many of the more fanciful elements out of Tezuka's manga, such as a flying, gender swapping humanoid. Here, Mitchi is replaced by "Tima", who is permanently female and cannot fly. In this version Kenichi is an assistant to his uncle, and he forms a very strong friendship with Tima even though neither know she's a robot. Tima and Kenichi seem to care for each other deeply, as seen when Tima is worried about Kenichi when he's unconscious. Kenichi even goes so far as to remove Tima from the throne in an effort to save her and not allow her to become a weapon of evil. Tima was taught language by Kenichi and that she was someone unique. She also considered him her only family because he was kind to her and protected her; it seems that she loved Kenichi very much. It can be assumed that Kenichi fell in love with Tima, shown in many scenes when he blushes when he sees her writing his name so she wouldn't forget him. Kenichi didn't seem to care if Tima was robot or not, showing that he was willing to rescue her because of how much he cared for Tima. Tima only remembered Kenichi when he tried to save her because of everything he taught her. Tima's relationship with Kenichi ends, however, when Tima accepts her identity as a robot over that of a female human, triggering a robot revolution.[7]

Also, Duke Red is shown to be a cruel and evil man both as a leader and father; it is shown many times that he does not care about Rock or consider him his son even though he adopted him; the character Rock is also a deviation from the manga.[8] He only sees Tima as a weapon to destroy humanity and even considers Tima and Rock inferior to him and anyone who is loyal to him. While his real daughter died and was also named Tima, he only rebuilt her humanoid self just to use her, and has no regard or affection for what she needs and ignores her questions about her being human or not, showing that he does not care if Tima feels emotions or not.

The movie's Ziggurat is a combination of the New Tower of Babel from Lang's original film and the Cathedral from the manga.[9]

Portrayal of robots

The Shinto religion has a very abstract delineation between the animate and inanimate. Shinto kami can be spirits, humans, objects, or in this case, robots. Therefore, robots are viewed with a favorable view both in the manga and in the movie, but especially in the movie, where there is a nearly equal amount of robot and human characters. Most humans, like Kenichi and Shinsaku Ban, tend to be sympathetic to robots, causing the Marduks and their hostile attitude toward robots to be viewed as antagonistic by the audience.[8]