Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science-fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. Lang and his wife, Thea von Harbou, wrote the silent film, which starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Erich Pommer produced it in the Babelsberg Studios for Universum Film A.G.. It is regarded as a pioneering work of the science-fiction genre in movies, being among the first feature-length movies of the genre.
Made in Germany during the Weimar Period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. Filming took place in 1925 at a cost of approximately five million Reichsmarks, making it the most expensive film ever released up to that point. The motion picture’s futuristic style shows the influence of the work of the Futurist Italian architect Antonio Sant’Elia.
The film met with a mixed response upon its initial release, with many critics praising its technical achievements and social metaphors while others derided its “simplistic and naïve” presentation. Because of its long running-time and the inclusion of footage which censors found questionable, Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere, and large portions of the film went missing over the subsequent decades.
Numerous attempts have been made to restore the film since the 1970s. Music producer Giorgio Moroder released a version with a soundtrack by rock artists such as Freddie Mercury, Loverboy and Adam Ant in 1984. A new reconstruction of Metropolis was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001, and the film was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in the same year, the first film thus distinguished. In 2008 a damaged print of Lang’s original cut of the film was found in a museum in Argentina. After a long restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on 12 February 2010.