Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece "Metropolis" is not only a resonant and enduringly relatable story about alienation by class and by technology, but also visually breathtaking and beautifully rendered and visualized even by comparison to modern films 80 years later.
The film is set in the massive, sprawling futuristic mega-city Metropolis, whose society is divided into two classes: one of planners and management, who live high above the Earth in luxurious skyscrapers; and one of workers, who live and toil underground. The city was founded, built, and is run by the autocratic Joh Fredersen.
Like all the other sons of the managers of Metropolis, Fredersen's son Freder lives a life of luxury in the theatres and stadiums of the skyscraper buildings. One day, as he is playing in the Eternal Gardens, he notices that a beautiful girl has appeared with many children of the workers. She is quickly shooed away, but Freder becomes infatuated with her and follows her down to the workers' underworld. There, he experiences firsthand the horrors of the workers' life, and is disgusted when he sees an enormous machine, known as the M-Machine, violently explode and kill dozens of workers.
You can watch a version (though not the latest) for free here www.ziln.co.nz/video/857