Release Date: January 10, 1927
Director: Fritz Lang
Production Company: UFA
One of the earliest science fiction feature films, the list of movies influenced by Metropolis is quite lengthy. Set in a futuristic city of high towers and massive machinery, the city of Metropolis is ruled by the wealthy industrialist Joh Fredersen. His son Freder enjoys an idyllic life until a woman named Maria invites him to come below the surface to see how his “brothers” are suffering.
Freder witnesses the grueling life of the workers on their machinery, and how the dead are casually disposed of after one of the machines explodes. Unable to convince his father to improve conditions for the workers, Freder rebels and joins Maria in trying to lead the working people to a more equitable Metropolis. Meanwhile, Fredersen enlists the inventor Rotwang to use a robot to impersonate Maria and discredit her with the workers. Rotwang has his own plans and various conflicts and tragedies occur before the film’s conclusion.
The dystopian world of Metropolis is all the more chilling considering this is a German film made just years before Hitler’s dictatorial regime came to power. I found it hard not to wonder if the actors in this film, especially the children, ended up becoming Nazis. From a filmmaking perspective, it’s hard not to see why it’s so influential as the cinematography, set design, and special effects are spectacular. Story wise, the film comes across a bit stiff, more of a preachy Socialist parable than a human story one can engage with.