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

Erich Kettelhut 'Metropolis' Drawings

Introduction

Eric Kettelhut was a set designer and important member of the production team formed during 1924 to work with Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou in developing Metropolis and preparing for shooting. This webpage contains reproductions of a series of preliminary drawings prepared by Kettelhut, based on his discussions with Lang and the production team. As can be seen, many of Kettelhut's drawings were actualised and made the final cut of the movie. The following brief biography of Kettelhut by P.L. is taken from Dietrich Neumann (ed.) Film Architecture: Set Designs from Metropolis to Blade Runner, Prestel, Munich, 1997. It is followed by a brief bibliography:

Erich Kettelhut 1893-1979

Erich Kettelhut was apprenticed as a stage-set painter, studied drawing and painting at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin, and held various appointments at provincial theatres. In April 1919, Joe May appointed him assistant set designer for Herrin der Welt (Empress of the World). Kettelhut assisted Otto Hunte, who was responsible for the artistic and technical direction as well as the overall plan of the structures. Around Berlin, at Weissensee, Potsdam, and Woltersdorf, fantastic monumental building began to appear that were intended to transport the audience all over the world, to China, Africa, America, and the legendary Ophir. With this production Kettelhut acquired the tools of the set designer's craft. Together with the cameraman Karl Puth, he experimented with different heights and angles for perspective vistas and developed an understanding for the way film can represent architecture.

In his next project, it was Kettelhut's job to convert designs by Hunte into ground plans and elevations for the construction sets. Joe May's Das Indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb, 1921), Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, 1921-2), and Die Nibelungen (1924) were construction assignments this team completed in spectacular fashion. But Kettelhut's specialty was above all architectural models, as well as the special effects necessary to make his trick building appear as actual architecture on the screen. As on Metropolis, Kettelhut worked mainly with Gunther Rittau, a cameraman with a great interest in special effects.

From then on, Kettelhut was in charge as the art director. For Walter Ruttman's Berlin, die Sinfonie der Grossstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, 1927), he organized the sheltered and disguised sites for the camera in order to capture street scenes directly, authentically, and without interruption. One camera, for example, was installed in an advertising kiosk in front of the Anhalter railroad station in order to record the morning and evening traffic at this busy Berlin intersection. The experience of Berlin also contributed to the success of Asphalt. In Neue Sachlichkeit style, documentary takes of daily life in Berlin were incorporated into the opening scenes of the film by means of multiple exposures. For the action in the film itself, Kettelhut built a 230 metre street in the studio, made completely according to the demands of camera operation, and constructed a movable crane to provide interesting details for the panning lens.

Thanks to his diversity, Kettelhut remained in demand as a set designer after the end of World War II. Shooting of Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, 1960) brought him and Lang together once again. With Lang's last film, Kettelhut also left the cinema. A few projects for television concluded the more than four decades of work in film.



1. Opening title of "Metropolis", sketch by Erich Kettelhut. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek. Sepia wash and colour drawing on paper. This image forms the basis for the original opening title graphic.



2. Dawn, oil and gouache on cardboard, 39 x 54.5 cm. Part of opening sequence. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



3. Cityscape for Metropolis, Version 1, ink on paper, 30.7 x 40.2 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



4. Cityscape for Metropolis, Version 2, gouache on grey paper, 30 x 39 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



5. City of the Sons, coloured pencil and grey wash on paper, 30.7 x 40.2 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



6. Tower of Babel, oil on cardboard, 43.6 x 55.2 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



7. 'Metropolis - Stadt von oben mit Turm Babel. Bild I.' City from Above with Tower of Babel, Image No.1, gouache on cardboard, 39.2 x 52.6 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



8. 'Metropolis - Hall of the Machines: View from Above, gouache and coloured pencil on cardboard, 27.5 x 35.5 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



9. In the Elevator, oil and gouache on cardboard, 31 x 41 cm. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



10. Underground city. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



11. Stadium, in City of the Sons complex. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.



12. Tower of Babel speech. (c) Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek.


References

Jacobson, Wolfgang and Schöning, Jörg, 'Erich Kettelhutt - Film Architekt und dis Liste seiner Filmbauten', Cine-Graph, 5, 1 December 1985, D1-D6.

Kettelhutt, Erich, 'Erinnerungen [Reminiscences]', unpublished manuscript, circa 1960, Archive Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin.

Krautz, Alfred, 'Erich Kettelhutt' in Germany, volume 4 of International Directory of Cinematographers, Set- and Costume Designers in Film, K.G. Saur, Munich, 1984.

Mänz, Peter, 'Modernität als Handwerk', in Michael Tötenberg and Klaus Kreimeier (eds.), Asphalty - Ufa Magazin, 7, Deutsche Historisches Museum, Berlin, 1992, 8-12.

Parker, Irene, 'Hier wird 'nur' gebaut', Die Filmwoche, 45, 1932, 1455-8.

Site last updated: 20 January 2012.


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