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

Filmjournalen

Stockholm, Sweden

30 January & 31 March 1927

Introduction

The Swedish cinema magazine Filmjournalen is known to have featured Metropolis in its pages at least three time during 1927. In the first instance, dated 30 January 1927 (Arg.9, Nr 2), the magazine presents a review written by Gerda Marcus, based on the Berlin premiere. This review is accompanied by two images - one of Maria with head encased in the helmet which formed part of Rotwang's transformation machine; and another of the slaves of Babylon pulling on one of the huge stone blocks which was used to construct the Tower of Babel. These images, plus accompanying text in Swedish, are reproduced below.



{Below is presented a translation from the original Swedish of the above article by Gerda Marcus. It was prepared by Mats Möller of Sweden during December 2001, and his work is greatfully acknowledged.}

The Latest Wonder
Fritz Lang's Metropolis a big success at Berlin premiere

1,300,000 meters of positive film have been used, 620,000 meters of negative film have been shot, and it cost 360.000 Marks alone for the wood, mortar and paint to build the "Metropolis" sets. The length of the finished film is 4,200 meters. Those who participated included 36,000 extras of both sexes, 750 children, 50 actors and actresses and also eight main actors. For this gigantic ensemble 2000 pairs of shoes, 75 whigs, 50 automobiles of special models, 310 shooting-days, and 60 shooting-nights were needed. The first shooting day was 22 May 1925, the last 30 October 30 1926.

Five people worked along with and under Fritz Lang to make the film: Thea von Harbou, the writer of the script; Hunte, the architect; Karl Freund, the photographer, and Günther Rittau, his friend; and lastly Gottfried Huppertz, the composer of the films' original music. And so Metropolis became the biggest film ever produced in Europe.

"That was like hell" said Rellingen, and we said the same thing, when we read the latest roaring advertisement for Metropolis, which has now premiered in Berlin. At the Ufa-Palast am Zoo of course, before, we are told, many ministers, foreign diplomats, and as many festively dressed gentlemen and ladies that the ballroom could manage.

One should not really be astonished anymore of any advertisement for Metropolis since Berlin for nearly two years has been talking of the film and the most wonderful rumours have gone around, partly about the production costs, which has been said to reach between five and eight million golden marks, but which probably has stayed under five; partly about those wonderful buildings that have been constructed; and about all other fabulous things the film would reveal.

It must be admitted, to begin with as to end with, that it contains so many magnificent elements, that one is tempted to say that such animals do not exist. But then there are also banal, boring scenes, reminding one of bad American fist fights, moments when one wonders what really has got to Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang, the brilliant married couple, who work side by side in an untiring friendship, and whose good taste never otherwise denies itself. The director of Nibelungen, who in his last monumental work showed such an absolute sense of style, here in Metropolis goes incessantly astray and mixes iron-hard future together with sentimental present time or the prehistoric age. His and Thea von Harbou's Metropolis is the future giant city, where everything is large, bright, suited to its purpose, where the elevators work day and night, the loudspeakers and second-sighted gadgets are in the working rooms at Fredersen's, the dictator of Metropolis, but where the ladies from sometime in the next millennium - when the film is supposed to be set - are dressed after the latest fashion of 1927. The men are praised as our gentlemen, and the workers are in some sort of timeless, black overalls, whereas their wives and children are dressed like the simpler population of our time. Maybe it is petty to care about these and similar details, but the film which comes forward as "The biggest made in Germany", has through the advertisements very much raised expectations. Unfortunately it cannot be denied that these expectations have not been fully redeemed, just because there often are scenes which do not belong in such a grandly set up film, presented with great literary and artistic pretensions. This however does not leave out the fact that in several respects it is a great achievement.

The weakness lies in the fact that Thea von Harbou as well as Fritz Lang have, from the beginning, wanted to make a "film of the ideas", something completely new. But, they probably realized during filming that they needed the little people and these fates. One way out of that would maybe have been to present the film in two parts. Then more of the shot 620,000 meters of raw negative film could have been spared, and the big ideas could have got more space.

The point of the movie is to show the not so very original struggle of the masses against the individual, against the money power. The solution of this struggle Thea von Harbour gives with the words: "Between the hand and the head, there must be a mediator: the heart." This mediator becomes the young couple's Freder Fredersen, the Metropolis-king's son, and Maria, a worker's daughter. But before they get so far that Fredersen holds out a hand to a worker representative, they and Metropolis have much suffering to go through.

The young Freder, who in all of life's ups and downs walks around dressed in white knee-pants and white silk shirt with a loosely fluttering necktie, falls in love with Maria, who lives with the workers in the black shafts under the light-shimmering city of Metropolis. That is where the workers belong, explains the iron-hard Fredersen. That is though from where they shall be taken up to the light by the mediator, of whom Maria, like an apostle, preaches to the slaves who are in despair. This mediator she believes herself to have found in Freder. But Freder's attempt to speak well of his new friends with the father reaches but the opposite results. Fredersen will sow dissension among the workers in order to more easily be able to rule them. He lets Rotwang, a highly peculiar inventor and half wizard, turn Maria into a human-machine, which like a winding up doll does what her master, in this case Rotwang, commands her. Again she goes down to the underground catacombs, where the workers have their meetings, and tells them to now break their fetters and to destroy the machines.

Like wild animals the workers rush up to Metropolis, make their way into the large machines, destroy the machines and let loose a never ending flood of water over Metropolis. The false Maria leads their raid of destruction, until their rage is turned to herself and she is burned on a bonfire. Though in the middle of the great volumes of water the real Maria is standing trying with super human powers to turn the giant tap, which can stop the flood. She manages with the help of Freder to save the children and reaches reconciliation between the tyrant Fredersen and the workers. Her reward becomes the hand of the young Freder.

As little as you in your mind can keep the lot of scenes, explosions, lots of people, wonderful technical details and fine, testifying of the most splendid taste, images which the film are full of, I can in only one article in Filmjournalen retell all the details of the plot. The problem is that they are too many and too piled up. Some of the most peculiar are Rotwang's laboratory where one is less interested of his turning switches and so on, than of the result he thereby reaches. Hence we see in time how the human-machine Maria comes to life, how all the parts of her body grow out from the electric currents that flash through the air, how the metal model gets her features and starts to breathe. The huge machines and their tending and also eventual explosion, the gigantic city, which partly is really built and partly created with the help of mirrors, the magnificence in the pleasure-temple Yoshiwara, the construction of the Tower Of Babel, for which uncountable men drag forward huge blocks of stone, the man-eating god Moloch, who eats armies of men, and all the photographic tricks utilized in the creation of these scenes keeps the audience in breathless surprise, from which we unfortunately recover during the moments when the film, stands still so to speak.

Any parts of significance do not really exist, when the main characters, except for Maria, are done in their development already at their first appearance. The actors, even if they are as excellent as Alfred Abel (Fredersen), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Rotwang) and Gustaf Frölich (Freder), they do not get an opportunity to show what they can do. Then, on the other hand, the newly discovered Brigitte Helm does get that opportunity. Already at her first appearance she enchants through her fresh charm, her Madonna-like maidenliness, and her mild smile. When she later rushes, in wild fear, through the catacombs, pursued by Rotwang, not only her face but her whole body reproduces the maddest of agony. As good as naked she dances after that in Yoshiwara, seduces with a completely satanic smile the men of Metropolis, and incites using wild words and the gestures of a street hussy the workers to insurrection. Already through this role Brigitte Helm must become world famous and we must with the greatest possible interest await her future performances.

Berlin, January Gerda Marcus


The second known appearance of Metropolis in Filmjournalen was issue number 3 of 1927. Herein Metropolis was featured within an advertisement for Ufa films, containing a photograph of the Moloch machine.



The third appearance in Filmjournalen was in the issue of 31 March 1927 (Arg.9, Nr 6). In this instance Metropolis was featured on the title page, with a large photograph of the steam-powered sirens of Metropolis sounding the change of shift. A full-page black and white drawing on the rear cover presented the giant, exploding Moloch machine, with workers being thrown into the air amidst the rush of steam.


Site last updated: 28 January 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