Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Director: Fritz Lang
Screenwriter: Thea von Harbou
Casts: Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Heinrich George, Theodor Loos, Erwin Biswanger
IMDb Rating: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
What a masterpiece! Truly, if we would talk about art, visual excellence, and all time relevance, to me Metropolis has all of the three. Bearing in mind that this is an expressionist film produced in 1927 that carries the science fiction genre and talks about social issues: injustice, exploitation, and revolution, I just could not adore this epic way more. Not to mention the unification of gothic cathedral designs—as there are Biblical references putting up the storyline—and its futuristic city landscape. Actual perfection.
Metropolis tells about a very well-built advanced industrial city in 2026 ruled by a wealthy creator, Joh Fredersen, with its luxury and prosperity: skyscrapers, sophisticated transports with aircrafts drifting around and electric trains running along very high flyovers, and other modern public facilities including lecture halls, libraries, stadiums, and theatres. In spite of its magnificence, deep beneath the city, the true builders of Metropolis live in slavery: a group of workers operating machines that supply the power of the city.
Then, there is this son of Fredersen: Freder. As he spents some time in a garden where the children of the rich exult, he meets Maria, a girl from The City of Workers, who comes to visit the garden along with a bunch of workers’ children. Maria tells the children that the people hanging around they see are their brothers. Attracted to Maria, Freder then attempts to seek her out in the depth, which soon brings him to find out the horrifying surroundings where his father’s workers run the machines.
Watching an explosion caused by a machine and deaths of the workers, Freder then goes to The New Tower of Babel, to inform his father. Later, Grot, a chief-foreman of Heart Machine—the centre of Metropolis’ power—comes up to Fredersen’s room to report his finding of two maps—which later be discovered by Fredersen and his ally, a scientist named Rotwang—on the bodies of victims of the explosion witnessed by Freder.
Freder then goes back to the depth by disguising himself as one of the workers. Trading clothes with a guy called Georgy, he finds the similar map as Got brings to Fredersen on it. Freder learns that the place on the map is catacombs where a secret meeting of workers led by Maria is held. Maria, much like a ‘saint’ to those workers, warn them—as they intend to rise in rebellion against their master’s merciless authority—that there will be a ‘mediator’, or the heart, who will conciliate the head (Fredersen) and the hands (the workers of Metropolis).
Discovering the same occurrence, Fredersen and Rotwang plan on ruining Maria’s reputation towards the workers by utilising the Man-Machine, a female robot created by Rotwang, as her counterfeit. Fredersen who seeks an excuse to ‘punish’ his workers does not cognise that Rotwang is on his way to take revenge on him at the same time.
“This ‘Slice of Cake’ Called Provocation, Don’t Take It”*
Gosh, I do not want to put on any spoilers to those who have not seen this film, but I have got to tell you: provocation is such a gun. And sadly, the workers of Metropolis pull the trigger. As Rotwang successfully transfers the physical likeness of Maria to the Man-Machine, chaos comes to pass. This false Maria goes to the catacombs to gather the workers and arouse their long desire to revolt. The wrathful workers then invite their wives to come with them to destroy the Heart Machine, causing the burst of a reservoir in the depth, which then floods the entire The City of Workers. Grot, who previously tries to stop them, enquires where their children are, whom certainly they leave behind in their houses.
What happens next? Will the ‘mediator’ make it to arbitrate both parties: the upper class and the lower class?
Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou (his wife), and the cinematographers are geniuses! If you are not into silent films, it will be kind of hard at first, but I promise Metropolis will not let you be in the tedium for any much longer. Also, do not raise your eyebrows as the way the actors act is not much like the one today’s actors you see act—Brigitte Helm, I love her! She portrays both the ‘saint’ Maria and the false Maria who ‘commits’ The Seven Deadly Sins wondrously. Above all, um, I can guarantee that you will like this film![*]
P.S. *That is not a quote from this film, though, it is sort of much like from me.