Metropolis is one of the films of the silent era that is a marvel of its era and an influential piece of filmmaking that’s still making an impact today. You can find pieces of it in classic films like Star Wars, music from the likes of Janelle Monae and Madonna, and even some questionable influence in society — it was a favorite of the Nazis and their interest in the film and Fritz Lang help with the director’s decision to flee Germany ahead of World War II.
The film had been re-released numerous times, including a famous restoration by Giorgio Moroder complete with a modern pop music soundtrack in 1984, and was is one of the greatest “incomplete” films in history. A final “complete” version was released in 2010 by Kino video, but now it seems that the classic will make its way to television as the next prestige mini-series that will swallow up your time. Even better, it’s coming from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail according to The Hollywood Reporter:
Metropolis will be executive produced by Esmail and his manager, Anonymous Content’s Chad Hamilton, who is also an EP on USA Network’s Mr. Robot. The writers’ room for the miniseries is said to be a less traditional set up. Insiders say it consists of only two or three scribes total, and is more of a “concept-room” in that the focus is less on writing scripts and more on figuring out conceptually how the movie could be adapted into an episodic series.
Sources say UCP is preparing to spend a hefty $10 million per episode, and that while the studio normally prioritizes its portfolio of networks (USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, E!, etc.), there is no mandate to go to the NBCUniversal-owned nets first.
The Hollywood Reporter points out that the project is still at least two to three years out, but the project timeline should fit well with Esmail’s plans with Mr. Robot, allowing him to give the miniseries the attention he’s known for giving with his USA Network hit.
But why is it exciting for the creator of Mr. Robot to take on a silent dystopic film from 1927? Wouldn’t his time be better served to focus on a new original show instead of attempting to remake a classic film for television?
That might seem reasonable, but Metropolis is a piece begging for an update. And if we’ve learned anything from Westworld, there are ways to update somewhat dated stories and improve upon them with today’s audiences. The Westworld series is far better than the film and allowed the creators to look deeper into the philosophy behind the theme park and its robot hosts — not everybody agrees, of course, but I do think that the HBO series improves upon the Michael Crichton film.
The same could happen with Esmail’s proposed update for Metropolis. Not only does it feature themes that we’ve seen mirrored in Mr. Robot, with struggle between the classes and revolution present in both, but there’s definitely an understanding of modern technology in Esmail’s work that would be a positive addition to any update of Metropolis.
While the special effects and setting from the original were lauded at the time and have held up pretty well considering they’re nearly 100 years old, there’s definitely room for a modern twist.
Not only that but the film’s more fantastical and surreal elements could flourish with Esmail at the helm. What he’s done on Mr. Robot has left us with some of the most mind-bending episodes of television in a long time. Seeing his take on the Moloch Machine and Freder’s decision to go against his father to aid the workers underground would definitely give you something to hope for.
Of course, it could be a disaster or it could never happen. But with the news of a Metropolis remake on everybody’s current favorite medium — damn that Peak TV — there’s likely not a creator out there who would give you more confidence. We’ll have to wait and see if it pans out once Mr. Robot wraps up in a few seasons.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)