Metropolis, the pioneering 1927 German expressionist science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang is written into the history books.
The picture, written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang, stars the likes of Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm and inspired filmmakers the world over. The silent film is not only regarded as a pioneering piece of work being in the sci-fi genre, but holds the mantel of being among the lucrative bunch of films that first developed into feature-length films of what was to become the science-fiction genre.
At the time of filming between 1925–26, director Fritz Lang was handed a lucrative budget which stretched in excess of five million in the then German currency of Reichsmark. In response, Lang and his production team went to work for 17 straight months of filming in Germany during the Weimar period.
This film, which presents a highly stylised futuristic city, tells the story of a cultured utopia existing above a bleak underworld populated by, in large, mistreated workers. Focusing on privileged youth Freder, the character discovers the grim scene under the city and becomes intent on helping the workers which leads to greater conflict.
The original running time stretched to 153 minutes, a figure that was heavily criticised following its premiere in Germany and subsequently led to a large portion of Lang’s original footage removed. For decades filmmakers have attempted to replace Lang’s original work back together and, in 2010, a long restoration process saw the film 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously.
Given the significant cultural impact Lang’s work had on film, in 2001 Metropolis again broke records and was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film that was distinguished.
Now, we remember the film with a string of behind the scenes images of the Lang’s masterpiece.