Detroit Film Theater to screen sci-fi classics in celebration of Star Wars exhibit


The 1927 German film 'Metropolis' is ranked among films influencing the Star Wars universe. - FROM THE 1927 FILM 'METROPOLIS'
  • From the 1927 film 'Metropolis'
  • The 1927 German film 'Metropolis' is ranked among films influencing the Star Wars universe.

Given the rate at which the Star Wars brand is pumping out new films filled with cutting-edge visuals, it is easy to forget that many of the franchise's elements came from classic Hollywood films, and not only science fiction vehicles. In fact, in various blogs and videos online, c

inephiles have been able to pick apart the various influences, often right down to the key illustrations and movie scenes, that helped shape the film universe.

Detroit-area Star Wars geeks have more than one reason to look forward to this summer, the first being the Detroit Institute of Arts' Star Wars and the Power of Costume. But the second would be that the DIA's Detroit Film Theater is launching a summer sci-fi series that will screen nearly 50 titles, some of which had a major influence on that beloved galaxy far, far away.

For instance, film legend Akira Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress is one of George Lucas’ favorite films, and the influence it has had on the plot of the franchise's first film (in which The Hidden Fortress is even subtlety name-dropped) is plain to anyone who has seen it. The Hidden Fortress depicts a princess-led rebellion against an evil empire, with the rebellion backed up by two bickering peasants and an aging warrior. (Screens at 3 p.m., Tuesday, July 24.)

Another classic film DFT will show throughout the summer is Fritz Lang’s seminal sci-fi film Metropolis (1927). One of the earliest examples of science fiction on screen, Metropolis a working-class revolution (notice a pattern here?) and possibly the earliest depiction of robots on film. Most notably, the iconic machine Maria served as inspiration for the design of C-3PO. In what is most likely a case of cosmic coincidence over genuine inspiration, Metropolis is also damn near impossible to view in the form originally shown in theaters, although that is a result of meddling executives instead of auteurism run rampant. 

(Screens at 3 p.m., Sunday, July 8.)

The DFT will also be screening kitsch classics, including The Blob (1958), I Married an Alien From Outer Space (1958), as well as the 1968 classic The Planet of the Apes and David Bowie's The Man Who Fell to Earth (1978).

For a full schedule and programming details click here. Most of the screenings are free unless noted.

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Jacob Stocking is a summer editorial intern with Metro Times.

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