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September 15, 2010

30. Metropolis
Directed by Fritz Lang
Germany, 1927

IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Ally
First viewing


The futuristic city of Metropolis, masterminded by Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel), is a playground for the ruling classes. Meanwhile, the workers toil underground at the machines that sustain the lifestyles of those above. When naïve Freder (Gustav Fröhlich) — Joh’s son — is led underground by the beautiful Maria (Brigitte Helm), he is horrified by the plight of the workers.

Joh’s old rival, mad scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), builds a Maschinenmensch which he intends to give the likeness of Hel — the woman over whom they fought in their youth, and who died giving birth to Freder. But when Rotwang witnesses Maria preaching to the attentive workers, and sees Freder with her, he formulates a plan to destroy everything Joh holds dear: He will give his robot the likeness of Maria, using her influence to bring down Metropolis.


I was lucky enough to see the restored Metropolis last night in a packed cinema. I had been aware of the film since I was a 13-year-old nerd perusing The Big Book of Science Fiction in the school library, but it wasn’t until last night that I finally saw it. And it’s quite spectacular!

It’s easy to be blasé about modern special effects — “they do it all with computers now” — but Metropolis is still breathtaking after 83 years. Vast cityscapes, thousands of extras toiling at giant machines or fleeing catastrophes, a creepy but oddly sexy robot, an absurdly complex plot riddled with religious and political allusions… What more do you want? Sound, you say. Who needs it?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. craig permalink
    September 15, 2010 4:20 pm

    It is essential to understand that the film was made when the old “decadent” and failing Weimar Republic was coming to its climax. It is about the inequalities of the class system and “workers of the world unite”, Hitler was inspired and worried about the films message, and it is interesting to note, that while his message was anti-semetic, the origin of his theories comes from his fear of communism.

  2. September 16, 2010 4:43 am

    I loved this film! And yes, the special effects are QUITE stunning… And it influenced so many films/books of the sci-fi genre…

  3. September 12, 2011 10:46 am

    It’s such a wonderful film! ‘Oddly sexy robot’…absolutely –

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