Fritz Lang claimed to have been inspired to make Metropolis by his first glimpse of the New York skyline. The result is the grandest science fiction film of the silent era (and for many years to come), a seminal prediction of a megacity where the masses work as slaves for the good of a ruling elite.
The DNA of huge swathes of sci-fi cinema is traceable in Lang’s production, from the mad-scientist creation of the robot Maria, which would feed into Hollywood’s Frankenstein (1931), to the imposing Art Deco cityscapes (ingeniously created using miniatures by Eugen Schüfftan), which became the model for later depictions of dystopian cities, from Blade Runner (1982) to Brazil (1985). The strikingly angular set design is characteristic of the German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s.
“A revolutionary film in both form and content.” Jason Dorwart
“Unrivalled for beauty and visual imagination, this film is the passage between 19th-century folklore and fairytale, on the one hand, and a future full of multiple genre possibilities and iffy political questions on the other.” Meaghan Morris
“Fritz Lang’s futuristic, expressionistic, operatic, romantic epic was, he admitted, politically naive. But the politics are the least of it – the film’s torrent of incredible and much-imitated imagery, aligned to its wild Freudian themes, is nothing less than an explosion of pure id on to the screen. Viewed as such, its absurdity is not a weakness, but a source of great strength. From its catacombs to its penthouses, Metropolis is the city of dreams.” Andrew Pope