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Metropolis

Introduction by Martin Marks, Accompanist
Live Musical Accompaniment
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich.
Germany, 1927, digital video, black & white, silent, 150 min.
German intertitles with English subtitles.

With his most successful silent film, Lang not only created a durable template for science-fiction cinema in the decades to follow, but also helped inspire the dystopian sci-fi blockbusters so popular today which echo Metropolis’ keen anxiety about the future of technology and its place in society. Yet, while recent examples of the genre seem most concerned about the environment, spectacle or surveillance, Lang’s film reveals a dread of the coming of automation that will not only place technology at the heart of social interaction but will further the gap between rich and poor by creating a plutocratic elite. The film promises that “the mediator between the head and the hand will be the heart,” yet is this prophecy the harbinger of an egalitarian society or a recipe for authoritarianism? Exploiting this disquieting ambivalence, Metropolis potentlydiagnoses the conflicting political currents of Weimar Germany and the innumerable fictional and factual societies it predicted. 

Metropolis introduction by David Pendleton and Martin Marks. ©Harvard Film Archive

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