METROPOLIS (1926) B/W "silent" 89m dir: Fritz Lang

w/Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Gustav Frohlich, Fritz Rasp, Heinrich George

Stylistically brilliant tale of a futuristic society in which a mad scientist exacerbates the oppressed workers' rebellion. A true classic.

From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "The film cost 7 million Marks. Its production lasted from May 22, 1925 to October 10, 1926. Almost 2 million feet of negative were shot and (according to the publicity) the following were used: 8 stars, 25,000 men, 11,000 women, 1,100 bald people, 250 children, 25 negros, 3,500 pairs of special shoes, 50 cars.

"Famous sequences: the luxurious quarters of the ruling class with the statues, swimming pools, hanging gardens, and places of pleasure; the underground city where the workers have to live and work like robots; the electric Moloch machine controlling everything; the suggestion of slaves building the pyramids; the old house of the mad inventor where he gives life to the artificial woman; the destruction of the Moloch machine; the children drowning in the underground city; and the robot-woman burned as a witch. Fritz Lang said in 1959, 'I don't like Metropolis. The ending is false. I didn't like it even when I made the film.' Fritz Lang also recalled in an interview in 1941 that, immediately after Hitler's rise to power, Goebbels had sent for him '... he told me that, many years before, he and the Fuhrer had seen Metropolis in a small town, and Hitler had said at that time that he wanted me to make Nazi pictures.' Later, deportees in the death camp at Mauthausen, constructing a gigantic stairway in 1943, said, 'It's like Metropolis.'

"In 1926, however, nationalism, in full retreat, appeared liquidated and [screenwriter] Thea von Harbou's propaganda fable supported the aims of the coalition (Social Democrats and Christians party) government then in power. This was not only because of its 'Christian' and reformist reconciliation between capital and labor but because it 'revealed' that the first victims of a revolution fomented by irresponsible intellectuals were the children of the workers.

"This science fiction drama was derived both from the traditions of expressionism and medieval myths. The Golem ... and Homunculus, as well as Caligari ... and Nosferatu ... were ancestors of the film's evil female robot."