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Metropolis (Metoroporisu)

In a post-apocalyptic future, the city-state of Metropolis is divided by culture and social standing. President Boon (voiced by Masaru Ikeda) and ambitious Duke Red (Taro Ishida) struggle to hold onto power as anti-robot factions threaten to destabilise the economy, picketing the newly opened Ziggurat which is rumoured to be a secret military installation. Detective Shunsaku Ban (Kousei Tomita) arrives in Metropolis with his trusty sidekick Ken-ichi (Kei Kobayashi), looking to arrest rebel scientist Dr Laughton (Junpei Takiguchi) and his latest robotic creation: a beautiful young girl named Tima (Yuka Imoto). However, the scientist is protected by Duke Red, who desires Tima for his own nefarious ends. When Ken-ichi and Tima finally meet, there is a spark of attraction and they pour their hearts out to one another, little realising that the fate of the world rests in their hands. As Tima realises she is not human, but a robot, she succumbs to Duke Red, instigating a terrifying chain reaction which could destroy Metropolis and the whole of humankind. It's advisable to have a rudimentary knowledge of the plot (or indeed Osamu Tezuka's 1949 manga comic of the same name) before you see Metropolis. The film's narrative is frequently vague, verging on the obtuse. Minimalist subtitling certainly doesn't help matters. Equally baffling, for a Western audience, is the choice of soundtrack. Torch songs and jazz-infused laments underscore the futuristic storyline, even the big set-pieces. Thus, during the finale when Ken-ichi races to escape the Ziggurat as the building explodes and collapses beneath him, orchestral grandeur is replaced by swoonsome diva vocals. Very odd. Visuals are an arresting combination of Japanese cel animation and spectacular digital technology. The opening five minutes are particularly breath-taking as director Rintaro takes us on an aerial tour of the city, gliding and swooping between shimmering skyscrapers as fireworks light up the night-time sky.