Steampunk Wiki
Directed By: Fritz Lang
Released: January 10, 1927
Runtime: 153 minutes
Country: Germany
Language: Silent; German intertitles

Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science fiction genre. The most expensive silent film ever made, it cost approximately 5 million Reichsmark.[1] It is essentially dieselpunk, not steampunk. By the time this movie was most things were being run on electricity or diesel, not merely steam. Large machinery like ships, locomotives and some power plants were still powered by coal generated steam, but that was waning fast. Smaller vehicles like trucks and automobiles were already running on petroleum products like gasoline and diesel.

Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere, and much footage was lost over the passage of successive decades. There have been several efforts to restore it, as well as discoveries of previously lost footage. A 2001 reconstruction of Metropolis, shown at the Berlin Film Festival, was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in that same year. In 2008, a copy of the film 30 minutes longer than any other known surviving copy was located in Argentina. After a long period of restoration in Germany, the restored film was shown publicly for the first time simultaneously at Berlin and Frankfurt on February 12, 2010. The event of the Friedrichstadtpalast was shown live on a screen at the Brandenburg Gate as well as on TV on ARTE. This version was also shown in New York at the Ziegfeld Theater in the last two weeks of October 2010. The film is now available on YouTube in German here, and in English here. There is a completely inexplicable difference between the music in the original German language version of the film and its English language version.


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 who quickly disappear. Trying to follow her, he, oblivious to such, is horrified to find an underground world of workers, apparently who run the machinery which keeps the above ground Utopian world functioning. One of the few people above ground who knows about the world below is Freder's father, Joh Fredersen, who is the founder and master of Metropolis. Freder learns that the woman is Maria, who espouses the need to join the "hands" - the workers - to the "head" - those in power above - by a mediator or the "heart". Freder wants to help the plight of the workers in the want for a better life. But when Joh learns of what Maria is espousing and that Freder is joining their cause...


The 2001 anime film Metropolis, is based on an original manga by Osamu Tezuka; Tezuka's manga was in fact inspired by a poster for the film, and he never saw the film itself. The anime's story is much closer to the original film than Tezuka's manga, although all three feature similar themes.

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