- Fritz Lang
- Germany | 1927 | 139 mins
- Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel and Gustav Fröhlich
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Fritz Lang’s sci-fi epic, released in 1927, gave generations a fixed vision of the future and came close to bankrupting its studio. German production giant UFA (Universum Film Aktien Gesellschaft) planned Metropolis as a rival to even the most excessive Hollywood film. And it succeeded. The production cost $2 million in 1926 ($200 million if made today!), and included 30,000 extras.
Screenwriter Thea Von Harbou and director Lang create a 21st century urban society of bustling streets and skyscrapers in which people live in comfort. However, the city’s magnificence is reliant on slavery. Below ground is an Expressionist nightmare of men and women as machines, driving the city and providing for their wealthy slave-masters.
Many sequences, characters and images are indelible: from the shuffling slaves changing shift to Rudolf Klein-Rogge’s Frankenstein of the future, Brigitte Helm’s mechanical femme fatale driving men mad with lust or leading a riot, Metropolis remains overwhelming and a fantastical monument to both Fritz Lang’s megalomania and creativity.