If you were to look up Metropia on wikipedia, it is described as a “2009 English-language Swedish-Danish-Norwegian adult animated mystery thriller drama science fiction film.” Quite the jargon. And that is exactly why I find it so fascinating. I have never seen anything like it visually or quite read anything like it. The director and writer, Tarik Saleh, once explained how the film was created using still photographs, photoshop, and then animating with adobe affects effects. The characters are real people with effects added, but somehow able to maintain this humanistic quality. Especially in the eyes and expressions. It must have taken quite the time and patience to approach a movie using still photographs, but the finished product has such a futuristic but humanistic feel as well.
When you watch the trailer, Roger is introduced and he seems to be struggling with a mental health issue, appearing to be afraid of “voices in his head.” He seems to be questioning his sanity, always anxiety ridden internally, yet trying to keep it together in a world which seems quite bleak. The year is 2024, place is Europe, where oil has depleted and automobiles no longer exist. Everyone takes public transportation, everyone lives in the same unfulfilling controlled life, where it seems like something is unnatural around all the characters. The environment excretes depressing feelings.
People are obsessed with a shampoo that has a sort of mind control commercial, with a blonde women, Nina who makes you want to go buy it immediately. This is where the science ficton part comes in (or is it, haha). The shampoo contains a chemical which creates this surveillance of your thoughts. It absorbs through the skin and acts like a chip in the brain, connecting it to AI intelligence agencies. Those in power, obviously abuse their power, influencing people’s free will, intruding on thoughts, and even making Roger question his sanity at some point. Roger of course doesn’t realize this shampoo is causing a lot of his anxiety, but he soon will.
Eventually he runs into Nina, the face of the shampoo, who confides in him all the secrets he never would have known. Roger discovers he has been hearing the voice of a man, who is terrorizing people with this power. With Nina’s help and information, he is able to find the source of his voice, and detonate a hello kitty stuffed toy with an explosive planted inside, inside the facility.
Metropia is a look inside a world where boundaries do not exist. Where your thoughts weren’t inside your head, but heard by others. Where your life was drastically changed by a lack of oil and thrown into an bleak setting. A world that constantly watches your every move, through your television, and finds it “normal.” A world where your wake up, questioning your sanity because of the unnatural elements thrown into your life. Although, it is bleak for the duration of the movie, the end does offer a resolution. There would be no point to using AI in that kind of manipulative way, and it could be quite damaging, so eventually someone like Roger will destroy it. Eventually, someone as intelligent as Roger would come across the right whistle blower like Nina, to stop it from happening.