Voila! Finally, the Metropolis
script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the Fritz Lang silent
movie. This script is a transcript that was painstakingly
transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of Metropolis. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and I'll be eternally
tweaking it, so if you have any corrections, feel free to
drop me a line. You won't
hurt my feelings. Honest.
More than a quarter of the film
must be regarded as irretrievable lost.
Few other films have been so
systematically changed, mutilated,
corrupted as this one. Shots and titles
have been omitted and changed
However, of no other such mistreated film
do we know so well
what the film originally looked like.
Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou,
different-sex Siamese twins.
Just like their film.
The novel: Thea von Harbou's film
behind the, under Fritz Lang's film.
At this point, the music started
during the first screening...
The Metropolis theme.
A fanfare motif...
the orchestra follows...
a column of sound emerges.
Thea von Harbou's message,
Lang didn't believe in it.
He said: "I am fascinated by machines."
Metropolis, the mother city,
city of mothers, mother of all cities.
The city, the film...
they too are machines.
an eccentric disk,
A machine without Workers,
devoid of function,
a machine of desire. Round shapes
and jerking movements become one
within the image of two clocks.
One -hour and one -hour clock.
Day shift and night shift, hours each,
mark the Metropolis working day.
Two groups of Workers,
uniformed, in rows of six,
march in unison,
the exhausted half as fast as the fresh.
"They moved their feet,
but were not walking", reads the novel.
The way people move or are moved
is always highly significant
throughout the film.
The Workers' theme - a funeral march.
The night shift enters a cage...
the grate is raised,
the cage sinks, and with it the camera.
A title picks up the movement.
"Even the titles", the young Luis Buñuel
wrote in his review of the film,
"how they rise and fall,
blend with the movement as a whole,
become pictures themselves."
The title's movement is carried through
to the movement of the picture.
The Workers: Now just a painted
silhouette rising in the background,
the design of the
Underground Workers' City.
Elevators transport the Workers
up and down between the machine halls
and their living quarters.
A new musical theme:
The Theme of the City of the Workers.
The main square of the Workers' City.
Simply a transit area for the Workers
returning to their quarters.
In the centre a gong,
again a kind of alarm clock.
The downward scroll of the title
is answered by a rising,
equilateral triangle pointing skywards.
The Sports stadium,
the contrast is stark between
its openness under sweeping skies
and the cramped City of the Workers -
just as stark as the contrast between
the liberated and carefree movements
of the youths, dressed in white,
and the dull lethargy
of the darkly clothed Workers -
and the self-determined horizontal
movement versus the downward ride
of the Workers in the lift.
A light-hearted waltz,
no musical leitmotiv,
accompanies this scene.
An artificial grotto,
columns like stalactites,
young women in rococo carnival costumes,
Orient-inspired head adornments.
The tricorn is of Venetian origin.
In contrast to the straight course
of the young men -
animated turns - anticlockwise -
directed by a ringmaster - clockwise.
A playground is the pleasure garden
of the sons, an infantile idyll.
eroticism in chaste playfulness -
like the water in the fountain:
A transparent dome
masking a statue of a siren.
The youth in white breeches and the girl
with the Cul de Paris play hide and seek.
Their game a dance, a pas-de-deux.
Allusion, yet so intensely innocent
that we do not actually expect
a real kiss.
Instead an expectant glance -
musically accompanied by a new theme,
let us call it the Love Theme...
answered by an apparition, "dressed in
light grey", it reads in the screenplay,
"from the smallest of décolletés
rises a head with solemn eyes
and glowing blonde hair".
"The austere countenance of the virgin,
the sweet countenance of the mother",
reads the novel.
The mother without a man...
New to the music is the Freder Theme,
it describes him as a light-hearted,
harmless soul - A pure fool.
The subject of her glance is Freder,
the brother, the son of Fredersen,
the nothing-more-than-son. All names
in Metropolis are steeped in meaning.
Heralded by the clarinet -
a new chorale based theme,
which from now on will accompany
the entrances of the young woman.
A door closes,
communication is interrupted.
This will be repeated at several
decisive moments throughout the film,
providing the impetus for further action
on the part of its heros.
"Nothing could help him - nothing",
the novel states at this point.
"In a tortuous, ecstatic omnipresence
stood before his eyes the vision,
The austere countenance of the virgin,
the sweet countenance of the mother."
Later, we learn that Freder
lost his mother at birth.
Where will Freder search for the virgin,
Not in the Workers' City, as one would
think. Freder arrives in a machine hall.
In this film, we can never be sure
whether what we see,
what the characters see,
actually represents reality
or is a hallucination, a vision, a dream
which sometimes becomes a nightmare.
Freder searches for a woman -
and finds a machine.
In the novel, he now comes face to face
with a machine of his own construction.
He strokes it, feels its limbs,
presses his face to its bulk.
In the film, the machine is also
a living organism.
Freder in the novel: "Tonight I shall
allow myself to be embraced by you,
pour my life into you and discover
whether I can give you life."
Blood pressure and temperature
of the film machine rise.
"Perhaps I will feel your trembling
and the sprouting of pulse
in your rigid body. Perhaps I shall
experience the intoxication
with which you hurl yourself into
your vast element, bearing me,
the man who made you."
But Freder also knows,
Freder in the novel:
"Nothing in this world is more vengeful
than the jealousy of a machine
that feels neglected."
In the film, the machine is called
the M Machine.
M as in mother?
M as in Moloch.
The Moloch theme -
a threatening musical gesture.
The film of the future is also a film
of Antiquity, a biblical film.
Moloch, the God of the Ammonites, to whom
the Israelites also sacrificed children,
to the chagrin of Moses and his God.
The film is littered with associations
to the Old and New Testaments.
In the music, the Moloch Theme switches
to the Theme of the Workers' City.
Platoons of Workers, in rows of six,
march into the mouth of Moloch,
which transforms back into the machine.
A machine, which produces nothing,
which requires the tribute
of the dead and injured -
like the bloody battles of the war,
which occurred only ten years before
the film was made.
Freder runs again...
it says in the novel,
"packed together in blocks,
tower up either side of the streets -
more like mountain ranges than homes,
stone cliffs interspersed
with glass-and-concrete buildings -
wide pavements rise above
car-only streets -
and long-distance trains,
electrical express trains
intersect the streets,
And in the background
"the New Tower of Babel,
towering above all."
In the music,
the Fredersen theme portrays him
as a self-confident autocrat.
Joh Fredersen, Joh with h -
He is both monopolist and dictator.
In Thomas Pinchon's novel
"Gravity's Rainbow", Franz Pökler,
a kind of Wernher von Braun,
remembers the film,
which he saw as a student in Berlin,
"Great movie." Exactly the world Pökler,
and evidently quite a few others,
were dreaming about,
a corporate City-State, in which
technology was the source of power,
and in which engineers worked closely
and ultimate power
lay with a single leader at the top..."
No sooner had Freder entered this room,
according to Thea's novel,
"than he was once again a boy of ten".
Nothing more than the son of this father.
The music, the Moloch theme, tells us
what Freder is speaking about.
The gestures of the son, unlike those of
the father, display trust, seek contact.
Fredersen looks past him,
his gaze rests on the secretary.
Fredersen's glances are orders,
as are his words, his gestures.
Camera movements are rare in Metropolis
and are always significant.
Here, the camera is guided
by the movements of the actors,
the pace of the discussion
moves the camera, stops it,
moves it on...
first it progresses...
Then it pans with father and son.
It is in the children, not the adults,
that Freder recognises his siblings -
himself as the infant prodigy
of the virgin,
a kind of infant Jesus.
Fredersen is not only ruler
but also builder of Metropolis.
His city - an architectural dream,
a dazzling futuristic city,
constructivist towering structures -
as the urban crownof the New Tower of Babel.
First from the strings,
then the horns,
allegro alla marcia,
the Theme of the Uprising begins.
A video telephone on the wall behind.
Fredersen's office is the control,
communication and command centre.
His power is based on information.
Above Fredersen on the wall, the lower
edge of the -hour clock is now visible.
Fredersen's power lies in his ability
to control the time of his subordinates.
The Worker, the capitalist,
the clerk -
the model of modern class society.
The position of the seemingly
privileged employee is, in fact,
the most precarious.
Again a door closes behind somebody,
this person's disappearance
motivating Freder to dedicate himself
to this person:
"That people are consumed by
the machines", explains the father
to the son in the novel, "does not prove
that the machines are greedy,
but rather portrays the defective
material of the people themselves."
In industry as well as in war.
Again, Freder runs.
For the father
the door closes behind him.
For the father
the door closes behind him.
Two rooms, two scenes,
screened in parallel,
the characters, too,
one commenting on the other -
here the staircase,
there Fredersen's office - this becomes
one of the film's narrative techniques.
Freder has followed Josaphat -
Fredersen, on the other hand,
summons "The Slim One".
Fredersen in right profile.
The Slim One in left profile.
Take note of just how differently
Lang stages dialogue.
Freder again heading downstairs
- "into the depths" -
- and again in an act of viewing.
Once again he is confronted with the
spectacle of a machine. In the novel,
it is called "the Paternoster machine"
- so let's keep it so -,
it keeps the elevator system
in the New Tower of Babel moving.
In the film it has no obvious function,
it is purely metaphorical -
an allegorical machine, if you like.
The change of clothing manifests
Freder's rebellion against the father.
This is the beginning of the incarnation
of the son of Jehovah, his passion.
This cut is, up to now, the most serious
intervention carried out by the adaptors.
The critic Roland Schacht
praised the missing sequence:
Illusions similar to that
of the Yoshiwara pleasure palace,
which distract Georgy from fulfilling
his task, have been used
in French avant-garde films -
"but never to such tremendous,
synthetic, characteristic effect
as in this false,
dazzling 'wax make-up' way".
In ancient times, reads the novel,
a magician from the Orient
built the house in seven days.
Then, from a far distance
came Rotwang and,
overcoming great resistance,
took it for his own.
The Rotwang musical theme
is reminiscent of the Moloch music.
Fredersen is the only person in
Metropolis who respects Rotwang's genius.
The removal of this figure is the gravest
manipulation executed by the adaptors.
The Hel of the Nordic sagas
was the ruler of the underworld,
motherly Goddess of Death.
In Hel, Rotwang has lost his lover,
Fredersen his wife,
Freder his mother - the loss inspires
each of them in their actions.
How Lang stages a dramatic dialogue.
Fredersen in right profile -
eyes towards the camera -
Fredersen in right profile,
Rotwang in left profile.
The audience alternating, at times
addressee, at times distanced observer.
Curtain up for Rotwang's first scene,
the entry of the mechanical woman,
the New Hel.
On the wall a pentagram,
the magical symbol -
the tip pointing downwards
suggests the satanic.
A metallic phallus with female
physical attributes, with breasts
and on the abdomen, mounted and
exhibited, the genitalia.
The music echoes the most important
components of the Mechanical Woman Theme.
It comprises three motifs, attributed
to the various aspects of the being,
and which at times appear separately,
at times in unison.
Rotwang's artificial limb is steel,
steel from the steel of the creature
to whom he sacrificed his hand.
Another parallel scene -
Freder still at the machine,
Fredersen with Rotwang -
determines the next sequence.
The plan... Fredersen's copy
and the one which Freder finds...
acts as the pivot between
both strands of the plot.
- Ancient tomes -
and a neon spiral lamp - Rotwang caught
between Middle Ages and future -
Fredersen in contrast,
with a Chronomètre Movado on his wrist,
is the epitome of twenties modernity.
- the factory is his Golgotha -
his cross the clock,
the Father-God's instrument of power.
The omnipotent is not omniscient.
Lack of information is the motivation
for Fredersen's departure.
For the first time we see him
physically in motion,
moving from one scene to another.
Fredersen and Rotwang descend
- from right to left -
left-right the Workers
- Freder between them -
both groups heading towards
the same scene.
Freder, hand on heart again
- the Love Theme from the garden scene
in the background -,
sees "a type of crypt",
it states in the screenplay,
with "eight or ten tall, rough crosses,
but no crucifix.
Countless niches in the walls, the bones
and skulls of thousands of departed
barely visible in the shadows."
A mixture of early Christian place
of worship (Sienkiewicz's Quo Vadis
had just been filmed with Emil Jannings)
And pagan underworld
is the place where Freder meets
the Virgin, the mother, again.
"Look at me, Virgin, his eyes prayed",
it says in the novel,
"Mother, look at me!"
Both strands of the plot intertwine
in Rotwang's and Fredersen's
glance down into the crypt.
They do not recognise
Freder in the scene.
The preacher is reciting a screenplay,
which Freder turns into a film for us.
The Creative Man, priest,
Accompanied by the music, played during
the opening credits of the film.
What here looks like a mammoth
construction in panoramic shot
turns out to be a model, around which
a group of architects has gathered.
New to the music:
The Tower of Babel Theme.
Five groups of Workers, a metaphor:
Like the fingers on a hand.
End of the simile, the sermon,
end of the projection.
A look into the camera,
into our eyes.
This is awarded its own musical motif.
Thus we learn her name.
In the novel Freder asks:
"What should I call you?"
She answers: "Mary." He answers:
"Only this can be your name."
Allegro alla marcia:
The Theme of the Uprising.
Fredersen believes he has seen enough.
What Rotwang sees, however, and wants
to prevent Fredersen from seeing,
because a new plan
is germinating in his mind:
A dialogue is opening.
Freder's gaze is searching for Mary.
His hand beckons her,
he begins to speak,
his eyes follow her,
the camera assumes his gaze,
which become one with her movements,
scans her gaze,
sweeps her gaze directly into the camera,
moving gently to him,
unites both in the picture...
the speaker always in semi-profile,
the listener laterally from behind.
An erotic dialogue,
regardless of what the titles say.
The Love Theme is playing
- now stops -
and is replaced by
the Rotwang and Fredersen Themes
in accentuated variations.
The couple is musically threatened
by the Theme of the Uprising.
Will Rotwang give up his project
to recreate Hel,
or will he extend it, if it can be used
to steal his rival's son from him...
the son of Hel,
who he himself expected from her?
Mary's light is candlelight,
natural, soft like her.
The realm of death, the realm of Hel.
Is Freder's dead mother jealous
of her son's love,
is this why she joins forces
with her destroyer?
Rotwang's lamp is a mechanical tool,
like his steel hand,
the entire man
a hybrid of man and machine.
Lucifer, "the bringer of light",
is one of the Evil One's names.
He showed this scene to a
Hollywood specialist, wrote Lang.
"This beam of light which impales
the prey on a sharp needle,
refuses to release it, driving it
before him in relentless pursuit,
onwards into a state of abject panic,
caused the mild-mannered American
to confess naively: 'We can't do this! '
They could do it", said Lang,
"they just did not think of it", and:
"Light and shadow should not only
be used to convey a mood, but should also
play a decisive role in the action."
A second piece of the Middle Ages
"Mysticism, gothic, grandeur,
it says in the screenplay,
"in the centre of the scene,
a column reaching towards the heavens
like the trunk of a palm." In the novel
the cathedral harbours a fanatical sect,
the Gothics, who persistently
offer Fredersen resistance.
The adaptors of the film reduced
this strand of the plot even more.
Again, a parallel action which interferes
in the current action,
transforms it into a fantasia.
The music in the cathedral scene:
The "Dies irae",
musical epitome for death and disaster.
In the original version of the film,
the musical leitmotif is intertwined
with the memory of the penitential
sermon of the monk at the cathedral.
This is the longest piece
to have been cut from the film.
The story of Freder, the good boy,
Rotwang, the sorcerer and the abducted
Mary gives Metropolis
the air of a fairytale
in a particularly unambiguous way.
Many fairytales are based on
the abduction of a person.
The evil character
captures or imprisons someone,
he foists another person
onto this person,
he transforms the person into another or
presents another person as the captive...
as Rotwang intends to do with Mary.
The hero, searching for the object
or person he is missing,
reaches the place
where the captive is being held.
The hero, the searcher is shown the way.
"Like the trail of a scent",
says the novel,
"the glow in front of him
led him up the stairs."
The old house sucks Freder in,
it makes him its prisoner,
it draws him into the depths.
The machinery of the old house is like
a model of the narrative mechanism,
which keeps both
hero and audience moving...
always being shown something,
before it quickly disappears again.
Another sign... Mary's scarf.
And once again Freder's call for
the virgin, the mother is answered by...
a vision, a staging.
An earlier concept for the film
presented medieval and modern ages
in different forms.
"Mrs. Von Harbou and l",
remembers Lang forty years later,
"included a battle between modern science
and occultism in the screenplay,
the sorcerer was the evil force
behind all events" - but they deviated,
Lang says, from this concept.
Although not entirely:
"Centuries behind, centuries ahead",
it says in the screenplay,
Rotwang's laboratory was "half a quack's
kitchen from the year
and half experimental laboratory
of a man from the year ."
In Rotwang's character Harbou and Lang
merged both magic and modernity
in one entity. A hermaphrodite,
like the film in which he appears.
That could have been conceived and staged
by him, just like the transformation
of the mechanical woman
into the image of Mary.
His staging combines both feminine
and masculine form and movement,
translated into a spectacle of light.
A Luciferic act of procreation.
Rotwang endows his machine
with Mary's attributes...
but he also allows the feminine
sexuality, which is repressed
in the figure of the virgin-mother,
to be unleashed in the double.
The chaste Mary, the white and merciful,
and the hot, destructive,
the red, the vamp
are two aspects of the same character.
Rotwang's experimental table,
with Mary as Snow White waiting
in her glass coffin to be awakened,
can be seen as the couch
of Rotwang the psychoanalyst.
Her subconscious manifests itself
in the arcs of light stretching
between her and the mechanical woman.
Freder, like awakening from a nightmare,
sees himself in another one.
her memorial is behind the curtain.
Mary's Theme, agitato, in a minor key.
The false Mary,
flesh of the flesh of the true Mary,
while at the same time
a remote-controlled machine at the core.
Why is Fredersen so doggedly determined,
to destroy the true Mary?
In the figure of the merciful preacher,
he seems to sense a female challenge
- that of matriarchy - to his patriarchal
principle of absolute power.
Freder's Oedipus experience.
The shock causes Freder to see father
and mother - whom he images as Mary -
rotating around each other. At this point
in the novel Freder chokes his father:
"I want to kill you! I want to
destroy you! I want to murder you!"
In the film, a fall
- "downwards, into the depth" -
into the chasm of his subconscious.
Freder in bed,
the father in tails.
An obvious feeling of helplessness
in front of his father's
aura of authority.
The son remains in the care of the,
in part female, staff.
A sick child.
Freder's unconscious state
again fades into a Rotwang staging.
Can it be that Freder and Rotwang
are not so much rivals
as the alter egos of each other?
They love the same woman, the dead Hel.
The absence of the mother,
the lover provides the inspiration
for Freder's visions just as much as
for Rotwang's stagings.
Rotwang's audience consists
entirely of men, old and young,
fathers and sons.
"Like a blasphemous halo",
says the screenplay,
the diadem on the woman's head appears
in the round opening of the domed roof...
that fades out. Rotwang's show is a film,
another of Rotwang's light productions,
with footlights and counter lighting.
Rotwang's show and Freder's delirium
An important strand in this mesh,
of the monk's sermo in the cathedral,
has again been cut by the adaptors.
Diverges from the action which was shown:
Isolated, edited gestures
and the positions of the dancer,
combined with the picture
of the audience
- groups, singles, only eyes finally -
Rotwang's production becomes Lang's...
pure montage cinema.
now clearly becomes Freder's vision,
the memory of the seven deadly sins
in the cathedral,
of the monk's sermon
on the Whore of Babylon,
which he associates with the image
of the false Mary, the New Hel,
which becomes one with that
of the Metropolis, the Mother City.
Freder, convalescent, is reading.
A copy of the page which was shown
at this point in the film.
Again, two parallel scenes, the second
once more cut by the adaptors.
The spy reports to the father,
the friend to the son.
Nothing remains of this scene,
but screenplay and score
lead to the assumption
that these takes were repeated here.
Only very few of the Yoshiwara takes
have remained intact,
this one in a copy found in Australia,
incomplete, the end is missing,
as one of the sons shoots the other.
Freder and Josaphat set off,
Fredersen gives Slim an order...
A third reporting situation
is blended in after the other two.
Rotwang tells Mary.
Included in his report,
as a parallel action, is the activity
about which Rotwang is speaking.
Like the group of rich sons
in the dancehall,
the group of Workers in the catacombs,
too, fall under the spell of the vamp.
Like the evil character in a fairy tale,
Rotwang pretends his own child
to be the one he keeps as a prisoner.
Ufa regarded the "red" Mary's speech
and ordered a milder form for
the second version. Instead of...
the title became:
"Who wants to work himself to death
for the rulers of Metropolis?"
"Who is the life force
of the machines of Metropolis?"
in the revised version it became:
"Who are the slaves of Metropolis?"
the false Mary had to say:
"Let them rot..."
Freder, who only had visions before,
has gained a critical, perceiving view.
He sees through the double.
The adaptors found the construction with
Rotwang's report as the framework
around the second catacomb scene
Georgy's martyrdom not only seals
Freder's new role
as a critical perceiver,
but also shows him as a future saviour,
as a new Messiah.
The central square of the Workers' City
has become a stage
in the theatre of the revolution.
The first beats of the Marseillaise.
Not only the music is imbued
with the character of a citation.
The way the false Mary whips the crowd
into a frenzy corresponds to her
performance in front of the rich sons.
The gong podium is a tribune for the
performance in which not only she
takes part but an ecstatic ensemble.
The elevators. Earlier we saw the night
shift advancing into the elevators
for transportation into the depths...
now they are being stormed
by men and women, who use them
to go upwards. In a later scene,
the movement accelerated and reversed,
we will see them - empty - crashing down.
In the beginning only men were
present here, now we see women,
the workers' wives, female workers.
The face of the repressed masses
"was male; only with the uprising,"
unleashed, does this face obtain female
traits, does its female base appear,
hitherto oppressed by organisation,
Again the same venues
as in the beginning,
in reverse order and viewing direction.
At the start the Workers,
silently waiting for the raising
of the grating - now the unleashed mass,
men and women,
deliriously determined to blow it up.
The children, abandoned by their
biological fathers and mothers,
offered for adoption by Mary,
the maternal, and Freder, the brother.
Again two people,
two venues, alternating,
audio-visually bound by the
video-telephone in Fredersen's office,
control and command tool
of the ruler of Metropolis.
Subordinate and superior.
Back to the sounds of the Marseillaise,
the storming of the Heart Machine.
The two Marys, now in parallel action:
The true, the white, finally free
to continue her reconciliation work...
and the false, the red, the force
behind uprising and destruction.
Mary on her way
to the City of the Workers,
to save the children abandoned
by their fathers and mothers.
Like a counter-manoeuvre
to her own creation by Rotwang,
as a light show, electric pyrotechnic
sorcery, the false Mary instigates
the destruction of the Heart Machine...
before leaving the stage
via a back stairway,
a shadow ascending a staircase,
exit to another theatre,
another audience, the sons of the rich.
Arm movements as though in parody
of the rotating of the disk,
still identifying with the machine
even during its destruction.
The elevators now finally descending,
The water. "It was said",
records the novel,
"deep under the city there wanders
a stream." Joh Fredersen constructed
a path for the stream when he built
the City of the Workers.
"It was also said that the stream
was feeding a large reservoir
and that there was a pumping station
there, powerful enough, to fill or empty
the reservoir in less than hours."
The subterranean streams had been
obstructed by Fredersen and coupled
to the machines - as had the people.
Now the unleashed waters of the depths
join the uprising of the humans.
We have seen Rotwang working the levers
in his laboratory and the other Mary
working the levers of the Heart Machine.
Now she is moving the levers
of the gong machine.
The gong podium, the alarm clock,
the tribune hosting the revolt,
is now used to save the children.
The square fills with the water
and the children.
It is almost as if the children
are involved in the flood,
even though their own lives are
in danger, as if they perceive
the absence of adults and breaching
of the banks as a liberation.
The upper city too has been robbed
of electric light through
the destruction of the Heart Machine,
causing Fredersen to reach for
to receive Slim in its glow.
No more doubt:
A couple of lovers...
but more like a couple of parents,
without act of procreation,
through adoption, by saving the children,
abandoned by their biological parents.
Not just a couple, but three, a trinity,
of which there soon will be more,
with interchanging members.
They take care of the children,
the innocent offspring of the Workers,
who have refused to be rescued by them.
A last climb through the airshaft
from the depths of the Workers' City
to the Club of the Sons.
The flying camera simulates
the pressure of the explosion
which rocks the city to its foundations.
Finale with Mary's theme...
then again the Theme of the Uprising,
men and women dancing in two
concentric circles, as though still under
the spell of the machines they destroyed.
Four, actually five venues and actions
with various characters
are now interconnected:
then the machine hall
with the destroyed Moloch machine...
This question is musically answered...
by a motif from the
Mechanical Woman's Theme.
Thirdly, the Yoshiwara,
where - to a foxtrot - the false Mary
leads the sons of the rich
to dance on the volcano.
The Workers abandon the scene of action.
Fourthly, the entrance
of the Club of the Sons,
with Freder. Here, a shot with Mary
has been cut by the adaptors.
And the children.
A square beneath this one,
which the Workers,
ascending from the machine halls,
And finally, fifthly,
Rotwang's attic room,
where Fredersen's down and out
This plot of interwoven strands again
proved too complicated for the adaptors,
they rearranged, they condensed.
They edited the film, giving the
impression that the false Mary
is the only victim of the witch-hunt
and that the true Mary is in no danger.
By readjusting this shot
the true Mary becomes the other.
Only when you carefully look,
you see - here! -
Mary running across the screen
escaping from her pursuers,
who manage to couple her double.
Fittingly, the Workers construct
a stake in front of the cathedral.
The stake is made from metal,
the wrecks of cars,
partly with their headlights
The false Mary tied to the stake.
She who was created by electrical sparks,
totally in her element,
in a display of masochistic lust.
Josaphat and Freder separated.
Rotwang had awakened,
it says in the novel,
"but he knew he had died.
And this realisation filled him
with the deepest satisfaction.
He only wanted his Hel.
Upon finding Hel he would no longer
have reason to quarrel
with anything on earth."
"Hel", he says in the novel.
"I am not a ghost,
although I have died,
I had to die to come to you."
Mary, the virgin, and her double,
both in mortal danger,
a mirror image in one scene.
The red Mary at the stake,
the white in the cathedral,
pursued by Rotwang.
The bells of the cathedral
come to her aid...
beckoning the saviour,
like the gong before
in the Workers' City.
As Freder watches, the fire burns away
the flesh of the false Mary
revealing her mechanical core,
musically triumphant, accompanied by
one of the Mechanical Woman motifs
in vibrant major.
The scene on the cathedral roof
is reminiscent of Victor Hugo's
"Hunchback of Notre Dame". The novel had
recently been filmed with Lon Chaney.
An unmistakable reference:
After the demise of the evil
half of the female double pair,
the final battle between
the two male rivals
is enacted on the roof of the cathedral.
Freder, the naive fool, has learnt
through his passion to differentiate
between truth and lies. Then in the face
of the needs of the children
he has ripened to an active person,
now he is capable of dealing
with his antagonist.
he too maturing through suffering.
Slim and Josaphat
- another antagonistic pair -
unite to offer him assistance.
And finally Grot, the foreman,
than loyal to his rulers.
In Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow",
Pökler remembers how Rotwang carried Mary
onto the roof of the cathedral.
He was "taken by Klein-Rogge
playing the mad inventor,
who he himself and his fellow students
would have loved to be.
Indispensable to those who ran
the Metropolis, yet at the end
the untameable lion who could let it
all crash, girl, State,
asserting his reality against them all
in one last roaring plunge
from rooftop to street",
so remembers Pökler.
In Harbou's novel the chastened Fredersen
finds comfort with his mother,
who does not appear in the film,
she gives him a letter from his dead wife
who pledges her love
throughout all eternity.
A female trinity has the last word:
Mary, Fredersen's mother, Hel.
In Harbou's screenplay, Mary - acting
on an appeal from the Workers' wives -
calls on Freder to be a mediator.
In the film as shot by Lang,
the women retreat totally into
the underground and background.
The women retreat totally into
the underground and background.
For the finale: The Mediator Theme.
The Workers, as at the beginning
of the film, disciplined,
darkly clothed and uniformed, marching
in unison in triangular formation,
the loyal foreman at the vanguard,
ascend the steps at the cathedral
to meet the triumvirate
awaiting them in the portal.
The Mediator Theme culminates
in a combination
of the Mary and the Metropolis Themes.
The rest is dealt with by the chiefs,
the representatives of State and People,
of Capital and Labour.
The social partners still require
They need a mediator,
removed from the parties' interests.
Mary, as a woman is permitted
to deliver the cue,
thus completing her task.
A male trinity analogous to the Father,
and the Holy Spirit has been formed.
Metropolis is a film of superlatives
also insofar as no other film
provoked as much criticism,
analysis and interpretation,
at least not since the nineteen-eighties,
simultaneously and in conjunction
with new versions, new recordings,
and allusions to this film in new ones.
The film, its metaphors,
its allegory require interpretation.
The interpretation is part of the
film's story, even if contradictory,
bizarre and excessive. There is no need
to believe or accept any of them,
but they should be acknowledged as this
is one of the pleasures the film offers,
which are unthinkable without a certain
degree of light-hearted detachment.
The commentary you have heard
was compiled by Enno Patalas,
read by David Cooke, notes on the music
have been provided by Rainer Fabich.