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Section 3: Artworks and Robot Sculptures


Poster designed for a 16 July 2010 screening of Metropolis at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco. The design contains elements similar to Boris Bilinsky's classic French poster of 1928.

Introduction

This section of the Metropolis Film Archive features artworks and and sculptures associated with the film's production, release, and subsequent history. It is divided into two parts, as follows:

The artworks listed below are mostly associated with the original production of Metropolis during 1925-6, and its subsequent premiere in 1927. Eric Kettelhut figures prominantly in this section - his work includes original sketches for the film's set design. They are described in more detail at the Eric Kettelhut Metropolis Drawings web page. Also surviving from the original production are costumes (refer Aenne Wilkommen's Costume Designs) and artefacts such as the original masks for the Seven Deadly Sins scene, currently held in the Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Paintings and drawings produced in connection with the publication of Thea von Harbou's novelized version of the film, such as dustjacket art, are also included.

The posters listed below mostly date from the time of the first release of the film in 1927, though, with such spectacular visuals and a wide variety of motifs, Metropolis remains a popular subjects with artists. As a result, some of the original posters remain in print as reproductions have been subject to modern adaptation. For example, copies of the original Ufa posters - with their Art Deco / Expressionist elements - are available from a number of Internet sale sites, whilst adaptations have appeared in formats such as a computer screensaver program and even a January 1999 Bob Dylan rock concert poster. Reference should be made to Section 2 'Web Sites' for examples of these artworks and posters accessible via the Internet, whilst a more detailed listing of the original 1927-8 era Metropolis posters, window cards, and lobby cards, along with images where available and information on recent versions, is to be found at Section 9 of this Bibliography under the 'Posters' heading.

Photographs cited below are mostly original production stills - many of which were taken by Horst von Harbou - plus those subsequently taken off the film. In some instances, production stills are the only extant record of sections of the film which were cut in 1927 and are now supposedly lost. For example, we have images of the Yoshiwara district, inside Josephat's apartment, Rotwang's memorial to Hel, the 'evil' Maria standing beside Rotwang as they both overlook the true Maria in her glass laboratory cage, the process of destruction of the Moloch machine, Maria escaping from Rotwang's house, and others - all of which represent now lost scenes from Lang's original cut of the movie. Copies of these images are to be found upon the more substantial Metropolis Internet sites.

Finally, a number of sculptured items have appeared for sale or in public and private collections over the years, being small-scale reproduction of the Futura robot. Some of these are also listed below, with images where available. See also the Bits 'N Pieces page for a discussion of aspects of the robot and montage images.

Artworks

Anon., 'Metropolis - Architectural Drawings, Sketches for costumes, Masks of the Seven Deadly Sins, Production Stills', 1925-6, Deutschen Film und Fernsehakademie, Berlin. [Kaplan 604]

Halladay, Terry, 3D Graphics Page, 1998. Includes modern 3D computer generated versions of machine and cityscape images from Metropolis. High quality, colour graphics.

Kettelhut, Erich, 'Metropolis. 1 Fassung', c.1925. Original sketch in ink on paper, 30.7 x 40.2 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 97, colour). First version of Metropolis cityscape.

----, Metropolis. II Fassung', c.1925. Original sketch in gouache on grey paper, 30 x 39 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 94, colour). Second version of Metropolis cityscape.

----, 'City of the Sons', c.1925. Original sketch in colored pencil and grey wash on paper, 30.7 x 40.2 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 101, colour).

----, 'Hall of the Machines. View from Above', c.1925. Original sketch in gouache and colored pencil on cardboard, 27.5 x 36.5 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 102, colour).

----, 'The Tower of Babel', c.1925. Original sketch in oil on cardboard, 43.6 x 55.2cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 94, colour).

----, 'Metropolis. Stadt von oben mit Turm Babel. Bild 1', c.1925. Original sketch in gouache on cardboard, 39.2 x 52.6 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 102, colour).

----, 'Dawn', c.1925. Original sketch in oil and goauche on cardboard, 39 x 54.5 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 101, colour). View of Metropolis buildings.

----, 'In the Elevator', c.1925. Original sketch in oil and goauche on cardboard, 30 x 41 cm, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 98, b/w). View of the workers travelling from work in the elevator cage.

Reimann, Walter, 'Cover design for Thea von Harbou's novel Metropolis (Berlin 1926), c.1926. Color print on cardboard, 55 x 39 cm, Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 100, colour).


Photographs

Photograph of the workers and the 'Evil' Maria attacking and destroying the Moloch machine. Original footage for this scene is now lost.

A large number of photographs pertaining to Metropolis are located in public and private collections throughout the world. A few of the major holdings are listed below, whilst there are many images available on various Metropolis Internet web sites.

'View of the City', 1926. Photograph. Illustrated Neumann (1997, 97).

'Production Stills for Metropolis, 1925-6', photographs, 3 volumes, Cinémathèque Française, Paris. Donated by Fritz Lang in 1959.

'Metropolis - Production Files (Clippings and Stills)', Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Mation Picture Arts and Sciences and Academy Foundation, Beverly Hills. [Kaplan 588] 

'Metropolis Prints', 1925-6, Prints and Photographs Division, Motion Picture Section, Library of Congress, Washington. [Kaplan 591]

'Metropolis Prints', 1925-6, Film Study Center, Museum of Modern Art, New York. [Kaplan 592]

'Metropolis Prints', 1925-6, Wisconsin Center for Film and Television Research, Wisconsin. [Kaplan 596]

'Metropolis - Prints and Clippings', 1925-6, Det Danske Filmmuseum, Denmark. [Kaplan 600]


Robot Sculptures

1. Metropolis 'Futura' robot, Ufa, 1925-6.

The original idea for the robot in Metropolis is said to have come from the play 'R.U.R.' (Rossum's Universal Robots), written by the Czech author Karel Capek. It was produced in New York during 1923 and is the original source of the word robot. Metropolis also has elements of the Frankenstein monster in it as well, along with the German Golem. A robot was included in Thea von Harbou's original scenario / script / novelisation for Metropolis, written between 1924-6, and therein it was called 'Futura', though this name did not survive into the film. The robot as it finally appeared was designed and constructed by Walter Schultze-Mittendorf, based on ideas provided by the creators of the mocvie. It was said that at the completion of the film, Lang provided members of the cast and production team with a minature replica of Futura, though a copy of this figurine is not now known. Schultz-Mittendorf also constructed a replica of the original robot for the Mition Picture Museum, Paris, during the early 1970s.

Schultze-Mittendorf outlined the circumstances surrounding the robot's original creation and construction in the following interview, first published in Lotte Eisner, Fritz Lang, Da Capo, 1976:

"An accident helped us. A workshop making architectural models gave us decisive assistance unintentionally. I went there because of another job. My attention was drawn to a little cardboard box labeled: 'Plastic Wood - trade sample' - a postal parcel. This 'trade sample' - not interesting for the workshop - was given to me. One trial brought the proof straightaway - the material for our 'machine creature' had been found. 'Plastic wood' turned out to be a kneadable substance made of wood, hardening quickly when exposed to the air - allowing itself to be modeled like organic wood. Now it needed a procedure that was not very pleasant for Brigette Helm - namely the making of a plaster cast of her whole body. Parts resembling a knight's armour, cut out of Hessian, were covered with two millimeters of the substance, flattened by means of a kitchen pastry roller. This was then stuck onto the plaster Brigette Helm, like a shoemaker puts leather over his block. When the material hardened, the parts were polished - the contours cut out. This was the rough mechanism of the 'machine creature' which made it possible for the actress to stand, to sit and to walk. The next procedure - furnishing it with detail to create a technological aesthetic. Finally - cellon varnish mixed with silver bronze and applied with a spray gun - gave the whole it's genuinely metallic appearance, which even seemed convincing when looked at from close range. The work took many weeks however. In those days, films were carefully prepared- and thus the realization of a piece of work unusual for a film like this one was ensured."

2. Shultze-Mittendorf replica of the Metropolis robot, 1970s.

Walter Schultze-Mittendorf, 'Metropolis Robot', replica constructed for the Motion Picture Museum, Paris, early 1970s. Note that the face is slightly thinner and more effeminant than the original robot.


3. Forrest J. Ackerman's 'Ultima' Robot, 1970s.

William Malone and Robert Short, 'Metropolis Robot - Ultima'. Constructed for Forest J. Ackerman, ?1970s. Work involved 600 hours over an 18 month period.


4. Masudaya 'Metropolis Maria' figurine, 1984.

Duncan Hopkins, 'Metropolis Maria', vinyl figurine, 16 inches tall, 1/5 scale, lighted, Masudaya, Japan, 1984-5. Issued in association with the release of Georgio Moroder's restoration of Metropolis during 1984. Some examples contain a label on the base stating: "Giorgio Moroder Enterprises Ltd., 1985". Features 10 working points of articulation - neck, waist, knees, and three points in each arm.


5. Jan Repa, 'Maria in Robot form', 10.5 inch statue, Design Toscano, US$34.95, 1990s. [No image]


6. 'Maria of Metropolis', resin model kit, 1/8th scale, 1990s. Refer AFM magazine. Originally retailed for $100.


7. Compulsions Creative Concepts 'Metropolis Robot' sculpture, 1998.

Michael Logan, 'Metropolis Robot', half-scale 85 x 35 cm (34 inch x 14 inch) resin and pewter sculpture, Compulsion Creative Concepts Ltd., England, 1998, Price: 250. For a listing and images of the complete range of Metropolis-related material produced by Compulsion, see also the special Eureka Video Metropolis Collection site.

Page last updated: 9 March 2011.


Metropolis Bibliography - Introduction Metropolis Bibliography - Books, Articles and Manuscripts Metropolis Bibliography - Internet Web Sites Metropolis Bibliography - Artwork, Posters and Photographs Metropolis Bibliography - Music Metropolis Bibliography - Film Metropolis Bibliography - Videos, Quicktime, DVD Metropolis Bibliography - Reviews 1927 Metropolis Bibliography - Australia 1928 Metropolis Bibliography - Posters