The film Metropolis was well ahead of its time in special effects. In a way, it was more than just a film, it was a man's theory of how the world could become in the future. Fritz Lang introduced the theme of man vs. machine, and how in time man would, in essence, become the machine.
I believe Fritz Lang was a type of Nostradamus in creating the movie Metropolis. He saw the dependency, even back in the late 1920s, humans had on machines. He had also seen society, how the rich would not have anything to do with the poor. Fritz saw into the future, how machines would inevitably take over the lives of everyone, how technology would rule people rather than their own inhibitions. The rich would look down their noses at those who could not make as much money, and they would squander their money on personal pleasures rather than helping their poorer brothers and sisters. Society would change, going from relying on itself to working for the rich by using machines. Machines would run the lives of everyone; from hot water to heat to lights. In time, civilization would fall. In the series The Matrix, machines take over the human race, using humans instead of humans using them. Lang introduces another idea, of civilization collapsing and forced to start from the beginning again.
The special effects in Metropolis were very advanced and sophisticated for the time period. They were artistic and stylish, not too exaggerated or cheap and cheesy looking. The special effects worked well in the movie to help convey meanings. The camera angles also helped with the special effects, zooming in on certain elements, and then zooming out to look at a scene as a picture, as a whole.
Lang showed, in the beginning of the movie, workers walking like machines, like robots, in a queue walking to work. No expressions on the faces, every move calculated to be synchronized by every other worker in the vicinity, working around machines, feeding them human lives, sacrificing them to the cyber gods. In a way, this is exactly how it is today for people working in offices. Each person in his or her little cubicle, typing furiously away at the keyboard of a desktop computer, timed breaks, pointless office flirting at the coffee pot, "I like my women like I like my coffee; in a plastic cup" (Eddie Izzard), nine to five every day except on weekends.
Society has become a corporate machine, wheels turning and cogs pumping as men and women perform an intricate dance in high heels and nice shoes, pantyhose, skirts, trousers, and nice shirts and jackets, twirling around with the latest technology, worshipping the computers they work on, licking the shoes of the bosses and owners to get into a better position, much like in Metropolis. The workers work and work, ten hour shifts of labor to keep the rich happy and the city of Metropolis running. All to please The Man, the rich men in their fancy offices full of modern furniture and obscure paintings with a small putting green in the center of the room so the boss can practice his putt while workers down in the bowels of the city are injured and die to make sure the rich man will be able to press a button and get a glass of Chardonnay within seconds while he chats up his superiors and friends with dirty golfing jokes and in turn licks their shoes so he can rise in power in the society.
I believe Fritz Lang produced Metropolis to expose the masses to how society is really run. He saw the dependency everyone had on machines, even in 1927 when computers and mp3 players were mere dreams in the minds of scientists. He also saw how society has a sort of caste system, even in the United States and Europe; the rich and the poor. Perhaps he hoped that if enough people saw Metropolis and believed with him and others how society could turn out in the future, they'd fight for a different future. If I saw the movie in 1927, I would fight. The future is still the future; it isn't set in stone like the past.