9. Metropolis (1927)
Fritz Lang's towering sci-fi achievement Metropolis gave the world the prototype for all special effects extravaganza's to follow. Lang's tale of worker unrest in a dystopian future followed the travails of an entitled young man's journey from the upper echelons of society to its lowest rung and the revolution this journey inspired. The sweeping nature of the narrative set in a fictitious metropolis necessitated that Lang and his collaborators find a way to convey the scale of the city so audience could comprehend the scope of the tale they told. Cinematographer and special effects maven Eugen Schüfftan brought Lang's vision to life using miniatures of the imaginary megacity that the story unfolds in and pioneering a technique later dubbed the Schüfftan Process. The Schüfftan process employs mirrors to give the illusion that actors are occupying models; a miniature is placed beside the camera while a mirror mounted on the front of the camera reflects the miniature into the lens, giving the impression that the subject in the foreground is occupying same space as the miniature. This allowed Lang to convey the immensity of the city and expounded the limits of what cinema could depict onscreen. Alfred Hitchcock employed this technique in his features Blackmail and The 39 Steps and filmmakers relied on the Schüfftan process until matte painting techniques became more refined.