Friday, February 10, 2017
Character Analysis: Rotwang
By: Brian Cotnoir
One of the earliest and most successful films of all-time has to be Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”. For a film that is almost a century old it still receives praise for its style, set, practical effects, and story. The film only has 5-6 actual characters that you get to know from watching the film. There’s the bitter Joh Fredersen, the sweet-natured Freder, and of course the lovely Maria, but as I learned through a quick search of Google, there have already been tons of Analysis’s done on these characters, but much to my surprise, there was one character that not—for the most part—has gained little fanfare, so today I am here to do my analysis on, Rotwang, the mad scientist.
CHARACTER: Rotwang from “Metropolis” (1927)
Rotwang is a scientist and advisor to Joh Fredersen, the Master of Metropolis. Rotwang, is a peculiar man to say the least. He lives in a small, dumpy house in the center of the city. This house has only one door and one window, and also has access to the cities catacombs via the basement. Rotwang spends most of the day in his home performing his various experiments and mourning the death of his former lover, Hel, who left him for Joh Fredersen, and perished during childbirth.
Rotwang has a contentious relationship with the industrialist Joh Fredersen, to say the least, and surprisingly is kept as a top advisor by Joh Fredersen. Rotwang shows Joh Fredersen, his latest creation, a “Man-Machine” that he intends to use to bring Hel back from the dead (by trapping her soul in the robot). Rotwang actually lost one of his hands while working on the Man-Machine. Joh Fredersen sees potential in Rotwang’s newest invention and instead instructs him to construct the Man-Machine in the image of his son’s lover, Maria—the powerful and influential leader of the Working Class—in hopes of disrupting there movement. Rotwang reluctantly obliges, but double-crosses Joh Fredersen, by programming the Maria-bot (That’s just what I’m calling her) to only obey his commands.
Rotwang is played by German Actor Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who has appeared in some of the earliest and most influential German films in History. He has an uncredited role in “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, and also played the role of Dr. Mabuse. Rudolf Klein-Rogge is known most commonly for playing Mad Scientist roles in films.
CHARACTER IS SIMILAR TO OR INSPIRED BY:
Rotwang is a one of the earliest incarnations of a Mad Scientist in film, and thus, he has played a huge influence as to how the role is played in films. Rotwang obviously shares a lot of traits with Victor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, both are mad scientists with the desire to try and bring a person back from the dead, albeit, two completely different methods. And both are said to have a God-Complex and are, “mad”.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein
I see similarities between Rotwang and Hjalmar from “The Black Cat” (1934). Both are German men who have an unhealthy obsession with trying to bring back their dead lovers.
I also see similarities between him and Jack Dante from the film “Death Machine”, as are reclusive scientists, with mental instabilities who live in their own little world, but are still gainfully employed by rich and powerful companies, where they are paid to create godknowswhat in their laboratories and then use their robot creations to unleash death and destruction on their masses. Oh yes, Rotwang is probably the most influential Mad Scientist character in the history of film.
Jack Dante from "Death Machine"
FATE OF THE CHARACTER:
After his Maria-bot orders the workers to unleash untold destruction on the Metropolis, Rotwang goes to reap the benefits of his work. He is unaware that the workers have come to their senses and have burned the Maria-bot (believing it to be the real Maria). Rotwang eventually comes across the real Maria, but believes she is actually his Man-Machine. Rotwang partakes in a chase and epic fight on top of the cathedral, with Freder (the son of Joh and Hel Fredersen), where he is knocked of the roof and plummets to his death.
Posted by Das Film Junkie at 6:55 AM
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Character Analysis: Maximilian von Mayerling
By: Brian Cotnoir
Award show season has kicked off again in America. People are marking their predictions as to what films will win what awards, and the best and brightest of Hollywood anxiously await to hear their names called at Award Show ceremony’s, waiting for their moment in the sun. Many Hollywood celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Hellen Mirren, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jack Nicholson have stood the test of time. But for every Hollywood icon there are thousands more whose 15 minutes of fame has run out, and their left to reflect on their former fame and glory. Yes, the “Hollywood Lifestyle” is often viewed as world of glamour, privilege, and absolute perfection, but there is also a dark seedy underbelly of the Hollywood life that not a lot of people like to talk about or see. One of the best films that captures the Hollywood lifestyle after the limelight fades in the 1950 classic “Sunset Boulevard”. This is one of those films that not everyone sees, but still knows the plot and still understand pop culture references being made about it (similar to “Jaws” and “Star Wars”). The film doesn’t have a large cast, but does feature some very memorable characters, and I’m here to talk about probably the most overlooked character in the film, and that would be, Max von Mayerling.
CHARACTER: Maximilian von Mayerling from “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)
|Max from "Sunset Boulevard" (1950)|
Maximilian “Max” von Mayerling is the loyal and dedicated house servant to Norma Desmond, a former silent film star. Max is the only employee of Miss Desmond. He serves as her butler, chauffer, and special assistant. It is revealed towards the end of the film by Max, himself, that he was a film director. He discovered Norma Desmond when she was 16-years-old, and “made her a star”. Max boasts to Ms. Desmond’s house guest, Joe Gills, that years ago he was as good of a director as Hollywood legends D.W. Griffinth and Cecil B. DeMille (who also has a cameo in the film). Max also confides to Joe that he was also Norma’s first husband, and after she left him, his life became unbearable, but he returned to be her house servant, and vows to do anything he can to protect her. It’s blatantly obvious to anyone watching the film that Max still loves Norma, but one can’t help with wonder if he’s also suffering from some delusional disorder like his employer. It really makes you wonder if Max is also losing a grasp on reality.
It’s also safe to say that Max is an enabler. He constantly praises Ms. Desmond for her works, and constantly reassures her that she is still a star, even though her fame and popularity have been pretty much extinguished. Max is so bent on keeping Ms. Desmond happy that he even handwrites and mails Ms. Desmond hundreds of fake fan letters.
Max is played by Austrian-American Actor Eric(h) von Stroheim. Stroheim’s family immigrated to the U.S. in 1909, and six years later he was working in Hollywood along legends like D.W. Griffinth, just like his character in the film. For his role of Max, in “Sunset Boulevard” Stroheim earned his only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (which he lost to George Sanders who won it for his role of Addison De Witt in “All About Eve”). Stroheim had a lot of directorial positions early on in his career, and towards the end he took on more supporting actor roles in films. With all his experience and expertise in the field, it goes without saying that Eric von Stroheim was the most qualified person to play the role of Max in “Sunset Boulevard”.
CHARACTER IS SIMILAR TO OR INSPIRED BY:
I believe Max is probably the most famous movie butler of all-time. And yes, I’m saying he’s more famous and well known than Alfred Pennyworth from “Batman” because he was originally from a comic book and did not appear in films or television until much later on. How many times have you seen a butler on TV or in a movie named, Max. It’s kind of become the generic butler name. Seriously, he’s been parodied in children’s films such as “Cats Don’t Dance”, and children’s TV shows like “The Rugrats” and even “Tiny Toon Adventures” did a whole episode parodying the movie “Sunset Boulevard” with Hampton Pig playing Max. Eric von Stroheim set the standard of how butlers are shown and portrayed in film in television in the same way that Anthony Michael Hall showed everyone how to play a sympathetic nerd in every movie.
FATE OF THE CHARACTER:
After Norma Desmond murders Joe Gillis (Spoilers!), Max finds her in a delirious state. It has appeared that she has finally snapped. Max is the person who helps the police convince Norma to head downstairs by—once again enabling her—and convincing her that they were all there to start shooting her new film. With Max acting as the (fake) assistant director, he coaxes Ms. Desmond downstairs, and that’s really the last we see of him. If I had to make an assumption as to whatever became of Max, I’m sure he must be visiting Ms. Desmond every day at whatever Psychiatric Hospital she was brought to, and is still enabling her delusions of grandeur.
Posted by Das Film Junkie at 1:57 PM