Sometime in the future, the city of Metropolis is home to a Utopian society where its wealthy residents live a carefree life. One of those is Freder Fredersen. One day, he spots a beautiful woman with a group of children, she and the children quickly disappear. Trying to follow her, he is horrified to find an underground world of workers who apparently run the machinery that keeps the Utopian world above ground functioning.
One of the few people above ground who knows about the world below is Freder’s father, John Fredersen, who is the founder and master of Metropolis. Freder learns that the woman is called Maria, who espouses the need to join the “hands” – the workers – to the “head” – those in power above – by a mediator who will act as the “heart”. Freder wants to help the plight of the workers in their struggle for a better life. But when John learns of what Maria is advocating and that Freder has joined their cause, with the assistance of an old colleague.
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Movie Reviews: “Metropolis”
Movie Review: NEW YORK TIMES
Nothing like “Metropolis,” the ambitious Ufa production that has created wide international comment, has been seen on the screen. It, therefore, stands alone, in some respects, as a remarkable achievement. It is a technical marvel with feet of clay, a picture as soulless as the manufactured woman of its story.
Its scenes bristle with cinematic imagination, with hordes of men and women and astounding stage settings. It is hardly a film to be judged by its narrative, for despite the fantastic nature of the story, it is, on the whole, unconvincing, lacking in suspense and at times extravagantly theatric. It suggests a combination of a preachment on capital and labor in a city of the future, an R. U. R. idea and something of Mrs. Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”
Its moral is that the brains and the hands fail when the heart (love) does not work with them. The brains represent capital, and the hands, labor. The production itself appears to have been a Frankenstein model to the story. Fritz Lang, the famous German director who was responsible for the “Siegfried” film, handled the making of the photodrama.
Occasionally it strikes one that he wanted to include too much and then that all one anticipates does not appear. But at the same time, the various ideas have been spliced together quite adroitly. It is a subject on which an adverse comment has to be taken from the perspective of the enormity of the task, as most other pictures would fade into insignififcance if compared to it.
Movie Review: DAILY NEWS
METROPOLIS (1927). With Gustav Frohlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel. Directed by Fritz Lang. Running time: 120 mins. At Film Forum. 4 Stars. These days, you can wipe a fingerprint off a negative and call it a “restoration.
” But the microsurgery that has been done on Fritz Lang’s deliriously futuristic “Metropolis” is true restoration. Unless you attended the 153-minute German premiere of this visual masterpiece in 1927, you have never seen it the way it is showing at Film Forum. “Metropolis” was a natural for restoration. Ever since its debut, the movie has been sliced and diced right down to an 87-minute version released in 1984 with a pop soundtrack. This new 120-minute version adds more than the usual sutures and spit-shine.
It also restores more than a half-hour of footage, including subplots and connecting material essential to filling in the gaps of this allegory of class warfare, where numbered workers in the year 2026 trudge in lockstep belowground on meaningless assembly lines while the rich and pampered cavort in their playgrounds near the heavens. Before you congratulate 1982’s “Blade Runner” for anticipating the Times Square of today, see how eerily accurate “Metropolis” was more than half a century earlier. (It is rumored that Lang was inspired to extrapolate from the Manhattan skyline.) “Metropolis” also has about a decade on Charlie Chaplin’s cog-in-the-machine of “Modern Times.
Movie Review: NEW REPUBLIC
I have just had a sensational night at the movies, and the picture was only 83 years old. At the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco, the Castro Theater was packed for a showing of a “complete” Metropolis. Moreover, the screening was graced by the presence of the two Argentineans—scholar Fernando Pena and archivist Paula Felix-Didier—who discovered the previously lost footage in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago.
I honor their work, and their amusing commentary on the discovery—they were a couple once, then separated, then back together with the excitement of the find. Still, “complete” needs quotation marks.