The Mastermind, The Scientist, The Robot

Description of Fritz Lang's Metropolis

The year is 2026 ~ one-hundred years from when the movie was made.

The world portrayed is a cold, mechanical, industrial one.

Citizens are either of the privileged elite, or of the repressed, impoverished slaving masses. Vast numbers of the lower class live underground where they run the machines that keep the above ground Metropolis alive.

The workers may run the machines, but the machines run the lives of the workers. They are a "mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation."

Lang portrays this with a montage of cattle-like herds of people, grinding machinery and huge clocks, contrasted with the gleaming Art Deco wonderland of the elitist's above-ground city.

Freder, son of the city's mastermind discovers the atrocious conditions of the factory slaves, falling in love with the charismatic 'Maria' who preaches nonviolence to the workers.

But the benevolent leadership of Maria is a challenge to the 'privileged' class.

click the poster for the 2002 re-release for info on the newly reconstructed original film

Joh Frederson commissions the mad-scientist Rotwang to concoct a robot double to take Maria's place and discourage the worker's hopes for improving their lives.

Like Hal many years later in "2001," Futura the Robot has her own agenda...

Two of the most arresting images are legions of cowed workers filing listlessly into the great maw of the all-consuming machine-god 'Moloch', and the workers shuffling in unison to and from the grueling ten hour shifts.

colorized frame from the 1984 Moroder version

Lang's early architectural & art training is evident in his visual approach. He develops narrative & created an atmosphere through expressionistic, symbolic sets & lighting, as well as through his innovative editing.

Just as conventional lines & shapes are distorted in the more extreme examples of German Expressionism, Lang's futuristic cityscapes and entire style of storytelling are distorted.

Lang is a self-proclaimed, "visual person," and his unique use of Expressionist ideas resulted in a deservedly legendary piece of film art.

Metropolis was produced by UFA (Universum-Film-Aktiengesellschaft), directed by Fritz Lang, & his wife Thea Von Harbou, wrote the novel on which the screenplay is based.

click the Pulsar for the list of links to all pages or use the box below