Metropolis

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metropolis-movie-poster-laurent-durieux.jpg

(1927, directed by Fritz Lang)

- inducted 2017 –

“Fritz Lang’s Metropolis may not be the first science-fiction movie ever made, but it comes close, and 90 years after it was released, it remains possibly the genre’s most influential work. Especially in the version restored and released in 2010, it’s an epic of boundless imagination and passion, as awe-inspiring and relevant now as it was in 1927. Although it takes place in a highly automated and regimented city of the future, Metropolis unfolds like a fever dream, full of hallucinations and doppelgangers and tragic romance. When Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), son of the city’s cold, aloof master, first sees the revolutionary Maria (Brigitte Helm), he’s mesmerized by her beauty and her kindness, but there’s a certain fierce subversion to Helm’s performance, even before she shows up later as Maria’s sinister robot double.

“The movie sets the audience on edge from the start; even the city’s ultra-modern buildings—all skewed, harsh angles—are unsettling, like they were designed by madmen. The sets have real weight to them, tangible pieces that envelop and constrain the characters, whose lives are rigidly controlled, whether they are poor workers or wealthy industrialists. Lang’s world is all-encompassing, more fully realized than most of the CGI monstrosities that it inadvertently spawned. The story is unabashedly emotional and earnest, building to a climax that pleads for understanding and togetherness. ‘The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!,’ declares the movie’s famous epigraph. Metropolis has all three.”

~ Josh Bell

Principal cast: Alfred Abel, Gustav Frölich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Fritz Rasp, Theodor Loos, Erwin Biswanger, Heinrich George, Brigitte Helm
Screenplay by Thea von Harbou, Fritz Lang (uncredited)
Based on the novel by Thea von Harbou
Produced by Erich Pommer
Director of photography: Karl Freund, Günther Rittau, Walter Ruttmann
Art direction by Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht
Costume design by Aenne Willkomm
Original music by Gottfried Huppertz, Bernd Schultheis
Special effects by Ernst Kunstmann
Special visual effects by Eugen Schüfftan
Music for semi-infamous 1984 reissue written by Giorgio Moroder, and performed by Freddie Mercury, Pat Benetar, Jon Anderson, Cycle V, Bonnie Tyler, Loverboy, Billy Squier, Adam Ant, and Giorgio Moroder

Germany
Duration: 114 minutes (1927 release cut); 80 minutes (semi-infamous 1984 Giorgio Moroder reissue); 145 minutes (2010 restoration)
Languages: Silent with German intertitles
Filmed in black and white
Sound mix: Silent
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Produced by Universum Film (UFA)
Released in USA by Paramount Pictures
Premiered in Germany on 10 January 1927
USA release date: 6 March 1927


Awards and honors:
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” 28 March 1998
- NYFCC Award, New York Film Critics Circle, 2002: Special Award for Outstanding Restoration (won)