Tagline – There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.
Starring – Alfred Abel (Joh Fredersen), Gustav Frohlich (Freder), Rudolfh Klein-Rogge (C. A. Rotwang), Fritz Rasp (The Thin Man), Brigitte Helm (The Machine Man).
Released – March, 1927
Directed By – Fritz Lang
Produced By – Universum Film
Distributed By – Paramount Pictures
Description – It is the year 2026 and society is ruled by wealthy intellectuals who oppress the working class forcing them to live in the depths below them. Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, the master of the city, spends his idle time in a pleasure garden.
While in the garden one day he encounters Maria who is guiding a group of worker’s children on a tour showing them the privileged lifestyle of the rich. The group is quickly escorted out of the area, but the chance encounter has intrigued Freder who descends to the worker’s city to look for her.
While searching for Maria, Freder has another fateful encounter with Gregory, an exhausted worker who is close to collapsing. Freder helps to relieve the worker, takes his place at the job, and exchanges clothes with him. Freder directs his chauffeur to take Gregory to an apartment to recover.
This visit to the worker’s depths has opened Freder’s eyes to the fact that the worker’s are being treated as slaves in order to keep the machinery working that serves the lives of the wealthy.
On the drive to the apartment, Gregory is distracted by the bright lights of Yoshiwara, an unsavory nightclub, and goes there. Freda, in Gregory’s clothes, finds a note in one of the pockets that has information regarding a meeting.
Meanwhile, Joh, the city master, has come upon mysterious plans that are being shared by the worker’s. He takes the plans to C. A. Rotwang, an old friend and scientist, who explains that the plans show a series of underground tunnels.
Rotwang, who was in love with Joh’s deceased wife, also admits to creating a robot as a way of bringing her back.
Freder, now blending in with the worker’s, follows a group down the catacombs where they meet with Maria who speaks of the arrival of a mediator between the ruling wealthy and the workers. Her speech has only helped to increase Freder’s feelings toward Maria, and he declares to her his love. The two agree to meet later at a cathedral.
This meeting is also witnessed by Joh and Rotwang, who decide to kidnap Maria, give Rotwang’s robot the appearance of Maria and use the robot to discredit her with the workers and destroy their efforts to organize. The treacherous mind of Rotwang also secretly decides to use the robot to destroy Freder.
Plot and sub-plots continue to unfold as Gregory, upon leaving Yoshiwara, meets the mysterious Thin Man, who tells him to forget everything that has happened.
Maria does not show up at the cathedral to meet with Freda and he searches for her. Approaching Rotwang’s house he hears her screams and arrives to see, what he thinks is Maria, in an embrace with his father.
Violence, death, revolution, and flood will follow.
NOTABLE: Metropolis used a very large and varied assortment of extras during filming. These included, 25,000 men (1,100 required to be bald), 11,000 women, and 750 children. Of these, 100 extras were required to be dark-skinned, and another 25 Asian.
Metropolis, produced in Germany, took two years to film, and is reported to have been one of Adolph Hitler’s favorites. An odd occurrence, as director Fritz Lang was Jewish. His wife, and co-writer, Thea Von Harbou, was a strong supporter of Nazism.
Metropolis was the first film to ever to be registered, by UNESCO, in the “Memory Of The World-Register.”
The robot in the film was the inspiration for the robot C-3PO in Star Wars. The film also proved inspirational for the creators of Superman who named their character’s city after the film.