It's been a long time since I watched a silent movie, possibly years. I'd forgotten the heavy make-up, and that it's not so much acting as barely controlled visual histrionics. Even taking that into account, I didn't much enjoy the story in this incredibly famous classic. It's clear that generations of filmmakers have borrowed and stolen from multiple scenes throughout the movie. Was that the first mad scientist's lair ever put on film? If it wasn't it still must have qualified as the best of the decade.
It was very clear to me from the beginning that this was a propaganda piece for Communism: we have the filthy rich living a life of leisure in their city in the sky, and the oppressed workers living entirely subterranean lives while working long hours at jobs that are killing them - most famously marching in identical clothes in slow, depressed, and perfectly synchronized ranks. But - for those who haven't seen the movie - I was wrong: they weren't championing Communism, just better communication between the governors and the governed. (Given the circumstances, it felt a little like they chickened out ...)
I'm interested to find that I'm not the only one accusing it of having a silly and simplistic story: H. G. Wells and The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction are apparently of much the same opinion. But at the same time, the visuals are still quite cool (an amazing achievement 90 years on), and the influence they've had has clearly been immense. Definitely worth the watch even if I didn't love it.