Metropolis, the pioneering 1927 German expressionist science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang, is a picture undoubtedly written into the history books.
The film, written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang, stars the likes of Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm and has inspired filmmakers the world over. The silent film is not only regarded as a pioneering piece of work within the sci-fi genre but holds the mantel of being among the lucrative group of movies that first developed into feature-length films of what was to be defined as 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 German currency of Reichsmark. In response, Lang and his production team went to work for 17 straight months, 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 a 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 had attempted to piece Lang’s original work back together and, in 2010, a long restoration process saw the film 95% restored and premiered on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously.
Given the significant cultural impact of Lang’s work which was displayed within the film, Metropolis again broke records in 2001 and was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film to be distinguished.
Now, we remember the film with a string of behind the scenes images of the Lang’s masterpiece.
(Images via Mono Visions)