Fritz Lang: Making Classics by Burning, Drowning, and Beating Actors
Fritz Lang's silent epic Metropolis is an undisputed cinematic classic with an influence that extends to music, comics, animation, and even fashion. It was also Hitler's favorite movie. Considering that some of the filming techniques used to create it would now qualify as torture methods, we can see why.
In the movie, there's a scene where the female lead (a lady-looking robot) is burned at the stake. The fire engulfs her and melts her clothes and skin, revealing her robotic interior.
Behold, the genesis of Rule 34.
The character's robot powers weren't real, but unfortunately for the actress, the flames were. Lang put her so close to the fire that, at one point, her dress started burning -- Lang himself had to put her out with a fire extinguisher before she got hurt, probably because she still had some scenes to shoot in the movie.
If that's the way Lang treated his lead actress, imagine what he did to his extras. There's a scene where the living quarters of the workers start getting flooded while their children are alone there. Talk about potent social commentary, right? Lang created this moving scene by forcing his extras (including dozens of little children) to stand in cold water for hours and ordering them to move closer to the jets of water until they nearly drowned.
Most of that is tears.
For truly pointless cruelty in a classic, you have to look at Lang's M, the movie that made a star out of Peter Lorre, probably best known for his appearance in Casablanca and for looking like Ren from Ren & Stimpy. Toward the end, Lorre's character gets the shit beaten out of him by an angry mob. There's one close-up shot where you see him getting kicked right in the shin with a hobnailed boot:
Which was a subtle metaphor of when man gets kicked right in the shin with a hobnailed boot.
There was no reason why Peter Lorre had to be in that shot: All you see is his leg, so they could have easily used an extra here. Lang not only forced Lorre to do the scene himself, basically threatening to sue him if he didn't, but repeated the take 13 times, leaving the actor unable to walk for days. People on the set said they also saw Lorre being dragged down a flight of stairs while wrapped in a carpet 18 freaking times ... for a scene that wasn't even used in the movie.
"Oh, no, that one was for my personal collection."
A surprising amount of real violence also went into Dustin Koski's book, Six Dances to End the World.
For more insane lengths taken to make movie magic, check out 12 Classic Movie Moments Made Possible by Abuse and Murder. Or learn about 9 Awesome Directors Who Temporarily Lost Their Mind.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Ways Horse Meat Proves a Zombie Apocalypse Can Happen.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn whether or not Harrison Ford was encased in Carbonite.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up RIGHT NOW and pitch your first article today! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!
And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to get sexy, sexy jokes sent straight to your news feed. Are you on Google+? So are we!