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Metropolis (1927)

Not Rated | | Drama, Sci-Fi | 13 March 1927 (USA)
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In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Fritz Rasp ...
Theodor Loos ...
Erwin Biswanger ...
11811 - Georgy
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Storyline

Sometime in the future, the city of Metropolis is home to a Utopian society where its wealthy residents live a carefree life. One of those is Freder Fredersen. One day, he spots a beautiful woman with a group of children, she and the children who quickly disappear. Trying to follow her, he, oblivious to such, is horrified to find an underground world of workers, apparently who run the machinery which keeps the above ground Utopian world functioning. One of the few people above ground who knows about the world below is Freder's father, Joh Fredersen, who is the founder and master of Metropolis. Freder learns that the woman is Maria, who espouses the need to join the "hands" - the workers - to the "head" - those in power above - by a mediator or the "heart". Freder wants to help the plight of the workers in the want for a better life. But when Joh learns of what Maria is espousing and that Freder is joining their cause, Joh, with the assistance of an old colleague and now nemesis named ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 March 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Metrópolis  »

Box Office

Budget:

DEM 6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,070 (USA) (8 August 2003)

Gross:

$26,435 (USA) (11 November 2011)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (premiere cut) | (re-release) | (1927 cut) | (2002 Murnau Foundation 75th aniversary restored) | (DVD edition) (2002 Murnau Foundation 75th aniversary restored) | (Giorgio Moroder) | (2010 restored)

Sound Mix:

(1995 restored version)| (original release)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the film's premiere in Berlin on January 10, 1927, the audience burst into applause at some of the more spectacular scenes. See more »

Goofs

In some of the close up shots on the children fleeing the flood, the kids are standing in one place jumping around while water is poured onto them- they aren't running at all. See more »

Quotes

Freder: To the new Tower of Babel - to my father - !
See more »

Crazy Credits

Restoration based on the version in the Filmmuseum Munich and material preserved in the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv See more »


Soundtracks

What's Going On
Music by Giorgio Moroder
Lyrics by Pete Bellotte
Performed by Adam Ant
Courtesy of Epic Records
(from the 1984 re-release)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Watch the Kino DVD!
25 April 2005 | by (Northfield, Minnesota) – See all my reviews

Technically speaking, I have seen this Fritz Lang silent sci-fi before, but this was the first time I saw it in any shape by which I could fairly evaluate it. I had previously watched Metropolis on a public domain VHS from the 80s. The print was terribly scratched and while there were a few memorable images, the story was so incoherent that their context was usually unclear. Though this was clearly not the best way to see Metropolis, I was still left with an impression of this supposed classic as a dusty museum piece that was praised by critics because they were expected to like it. So finally seeing a restored and expanded copy was as much as a revelation as seeing Once Upon a Time in the West letter boxed in how it led me to reevaluate my opinion of the movie. The movie is a strange mixture of political speculation political parable, apocalyptic fantasy, and religious allegory. It depicts a futuristic city that is divided between the wretched workers, who toil in the depths tending the machines, and the upper classes, who dwell in luxury up in the skyscrapers. The hero, the idle, pampered son of the city's supervisor Joh Fredersen, changes his ways and becomes concerned with the plight of the lower classes after catching a glimpse of Maria, the Madonna of the workers. His father, meanwhile, is plotting to thwart Maria with the help of the mad scientist Rotwang, who has discovered how to create robot replicas of human beings. One of the most surprising things about watching this version is just how much I didn't see. In addition to restoring scenes to the film, the DVD also includes inter titles to explain pieces of the plot that cannot be found in any version. With these changes, the story becomes much clearer, particularly the machinations of Rotwang and the master of Metropolis. Perhaps most importantly, a whole new subplot is added involving the hero's dead mother Hel, who was loved by both his father and Rotwang. With this clarification of the back-story, the close but adversarial relationship between Rotwang and Fredersen becomes much clearer. In some ways it recalls the family back-story of the Star Wars movies. Of course, the real strength of Metropolis isn't the story, which is pretty silly and probably wouldn't have worked in anything but a silent film, but its amazing visuals, which in their scale and ambitiousness look forward to 2001 and Blade Runner. Actually, though in most respects silent films now look primitive, one area in which they have the edge over modern film-making is in their frequently grandiose production design. Metropolis employs huge sets to show the hellish factories of the subterranean world. The models of the city's towering skyscrapers are also surprisingly convincing for a 1920s film. Even beyond the expansive production design and (for the time) special effects, Lang's visuals are all consistently inventive. The robot Maria provides some of the movie's most iconic images, including her transformation into a human being. In a later scene, she performs for upper-class men in a nightclub, and as she performs a striptease that in 1920s Germany was apparently seen as very decadent, the screen is filled with wet staring eyeballs. A sign of Lang's visual lavishness, and the studio's, that he doesn't hesitate to throw in lavish dream and hallucination sequences to drive home a point or illustrate a character's state of mind. For instance, when the hero first enters the subterranean city and sees rows upon rows of workers toiling on huge machines, he imagines the furnace transforming into a monstrous idol's head into which the workers are being sacrificed. At another point, while he's sick in bed he imagines statues of the Seven Deadly Sins coming to life and advancing out from a wall in a cathedral. When Maria preaches her message of peace and understanding to the workers, she tells them the story of the Tower of Babel of a management vs. labor parable, and Lang gives us spectacular images of the tower's construction and fall. In a sound film many of these scenes would have seemed redundant and over-literal, but they're what silent cinema does best -tell a story without the advantage- or obstacle- of dialogue. The story is a little slow to start, but once it picks up Metropolis becomes one of the most directly involving silent films that I've seen. In addition to being a pioneering example of the cinematic possibilities of science fiction, Metropolis also has to be one of the earliest disaster films, as the workers riot and sabotage the machines, endangering the entire city. Lang creates a sense of rising fury and nihilism in the last hour that in a strange way reminded me of what was going to happen to Germany in less than 20 years.


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