Metropolis (1927)

     On January 10, 1927, Universum Film (UFA) released Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).  The German film company produced a science fiction class, which still holds up today.  On the Internet Movie Database website (IMDB), users rate it 8.3 out of 10 stars.  It is #104 on the Top 250.


Still from Metropolis trailer

     In a theme society has wrestled with since the beginning of the Industrial Age, workers in the depths of the city keep it running.  Joh Fredersen, played by Alfred Abel, controls the city and the workers from his office high above the city.

    The sons of the wealthy are oblivious to the struggles of the working class until Maria, played by Brigitte Helm, tries to bring some of their children to a park in the heights.  A caretaker stops Maria but she attracts the attention of Freder Fredersen, played by Gustav Frolich.

     Freder follows Maria out of fascination and attraction.  When he discovers the plight of the workers, he decides to use his influence with his father to improve the conditions of the workers.  The theme of the film is the mediator between the head and hands must be the heart.

     Metropolis was one of the latter collaborations of husband and wife filmmakers Fritz Lang and Thea Von Harbou.  Von Harbou was one of the great screen writers of the Golden Age of German Cinema in the 1920s.  Fritz Lang was one of its most acclaimed directors.  Lang took his wife’s stories and brought them to life on film.

     The rise of the Nazi Party in the early 1930s took a heavy toll on their personal and professional partnership.  Lang was a fervent anti-Nazi, while Von Harbou was sympathetic to the Nazi Party.  After the Nazis took offense at The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Lang fled Germany.  Von Harbou remained and would divorce Lang.

     Lang would continue to have success in American films but would never recreate the magic of Metropolis or M (1931).  Von Harbou wrote a few films for the Nazis but never achieved critical success after the personal and professional divorce.

     Metropolis is available on Netflix and DVD.  Watch the Netflix version if you can because it is the most complete version of the original film.  A print found in Argentina in the 1990s resulted in the most complete version to date.

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