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Metropolis - Serialised Version

The Picture Show magazine, London, October 1927

An anonymous 3-part serialised version of Metropolis was published in the London trade magazine The Picture Show on 1, 8 and 15 October 1927. As written it is a cross between H.G. Well's The Time Machine, a pulp-fiction romance, Thea von Harbou's original novel Metropolis and Fritz Lang's film as released in London during March 1927. The serial is a rather syrupy and light-weight piece of writing, lacking the complex imagery and sense of otherworldliness evident in Thea von Harbou's original novel and Lang's film. Within this Picture Show version of Metropolis the names of the characters have been changed from the original German Thea von Harbou's book, and even from the English version of the film. In some instances new names have been included, such as in the Supermen and the Undermen, and Nicholas, for Freder's servant.

Metropolis Characters

Original German Book & Film

English film

Picture Show version

Freder

Eric

Eric

Maria

Mary

Mary

Joh Fredersen

John Masterman

John Masterman

Der Schmale

Slim

Joseph Venn

Josaphat

Joseph

Carl Marson

Rotwang

Rotwang

Rotwang

Grot

Grot

Grot

[Freder's servant]

[Freder's servant]

Nicholas

-

-

Supermen

[Workers]

[Workers]

Undermen

Georgy / 11811

11811

[Un-named]

-

-

No. 6679


Metropolis

Adapted from incidents in the Wardour photo-play

This enthralling serial begins today

Is this mad dreaming? Or is the world headed for such a fate 1,000 years from now? Towering miles in the sky; digging deep into the earth! Men of iron; women of steel! Motors instead of hearts; hate instead of love! Human machines!

It had come at last - a world run by machinery. The scientific men who had prophesied that the man-made machine would eventually make a machine of man had lain in their graves these many years, as dead as the old craftsmen who carved and hammered out the beautiful designs in solid oak and precious metals. A world of machinery in which the duties of the workers were nothing like so complicated as the machines that did the work.

In fact, the workman, in the eyes of the employer, was of much less value than the machine he controlled. Flesh and blood had never been so cheap since the days of slavery. Never in the history of mankind had the common people been so low in the social scale.

The serf of ancient Saxon days who wore a collar round his neck bearing the name of his master, enjoyed more real freedom than did the workers in an age that would go down in history as the civilisation of the twenty-first century.

Yet, according to the laws of the civilised world, the workers were free. They received wages and were free to sell their labour to whatever employer they desired to serve. That was written in the Constitution - which was the law of the world. There were no countries in this age of machinery. The big and little nations had merged by a stroke of the pen into a world in which there was one division. It was the old division of Capital and Labour, but in this age they called it "The Supermen and the Undermen."

The change from the twentieth century standards had come so slowly that even thinking men had been deceived. It had crept along, serpent-like and noiselessly, just like poison gas. It had come on the people before they had time to realise its horrible, devastating power.

Men returning from work with an evening newspaper in their hands had laughed at the flaring headlines warning men that a giant merger of scientific men, backed by the incalculable power of the latest life-destroying machines had come, not to kill them, but to enslave them.

Wives, wondering whether the latest fashion in bobs and shingles and Eton crops would suit their particular type of face, had listened to their husbands and made the inane remark: "They've got to put something in the papers to sell 'em!"

And so it had come, just like the poison gas came to our troops in the war, sneaking, furtive, but all powerful.

Before the workers of the world had time to realise it, they were in the net of the scientific masters of the world. Naturally they had fought. Their first attack had been launched in the form of a world-wide strike. It had succeeded so far as this: Every working man in the world had stopped working. In England, America, Germany, France, in fact, in all civilised countries; and also in countries which a stupid few religionists had described as "Heathen," such as China, every man had walked out of his workshop, factory, office or farm, leaving the bloated capitalist to run the world, and feeling assured that he could not run it without labour.

But the bloated capitalist had taken the precaution of storing up food, and while the workers starved he lived in luxury.

That world-wide strike was the beginning of the end of a system under which people had lived since the days when steam supplanted hand power. The capitalists won and they made the most of their victory. The workers were crushed and the capitalists imposed such terms on their surrender that another revolt would not be possible for a number of years. But it remained for one man to put the crowning stroke on the victory of the capitalists. Appropriately enough he was named John Masterman.

It was Masterman who brought the capitalists of the world together into one powerful union. It was Masterman who divided the world into Supermen and Undermen.

There was nothing of the superman about John Masterman in appearance. He was a little man, short in stature and very slimly built, and his face was very ordinary. Yet this plain man had accomplished more than any single man of his time, and, compared with John Masterman, the giants of other days were comparatively mediocre.

A stranger entering John Masterman's office on a certain July afternoon would have taken this plain little man for one of the clerks until he had seen him at work. Wireless messages were coming in from all parts of the globe, and the way Masterman dealt with them was uncanny. Hardly ever did he have to consult a book or a subordinate. He snapped out the replies to six secretaries who made copies and then took the messages to the wireless despatching room.

Having finished one batch of messages, Masterman turned to a desk against the wall and touched a button. A panel slid up and disclosed a mirror in which was reflected the grounds of Masterman's mansions. The invention before which Masterman sat was the latest development of television. A smile softened the hard face of Masterman as he saw a tall, well-built, fair-haired young man come into the picture. It was Eric, his son and only child, and the only person in the world the head of the supermen loved.

Eric was with a number of young men and girls about his own age, and as Masterman watched them they formed up for a race. The chief of the supermen fitted a little receiver to his ear and listened to the conversation.

"You've got to give us all a start, Eric," said one young man. "We've got no chance with you level."

A look of pride came into the eyes of Masterman. He hated all forms of sport, but he was delighted in the fact that his son stood out as an athlete above his companions. Starts were measured and the race begun. Masterman followed it eagerly and he clapped his hands softly when Eric won. Then he switched off the instrument and returned to his work.

In Metropolis, as the city Masterman ruled was called, sport was only for the supermen and their families. The workers had no time for play, and if they had made time out of their sleeping hours, they could not have gone in for sport simply because there was nowhere to play. The master of Metropolis had arranged this by one of his simple but effective plans. The city was built like a collection of huge flats. All the works were on the ground floor. The succeeding stories were used as offices, stores, etc., and on the roofs were the houses and the grounds of the supermen.

The workers lived underground, and since the huge factories were always lighted by electricity, none of the workers ever saw the sun unless on some rare occasion they were called upon to do some work in the houses of their masters.

John Masterman had been very proud of his scheme to rob the workers of the sight of sun and sky. He knew that nothing breaks the spirit of man so effectively as being forced to live without sunshine. His action had been copied by other chief supermen in other parts of the world so that the workers might also be said to be buried alive. In this plan, the master of Metropolis had followed the central scheme he had adopted in all matters. He made one clean and sharp division between the Supermen and the Undermen. The sunshine and the fresh air, the forests, rivers and mountains for the masters, the underground for the workers. And it was so with everything. The workers made the motor-cars and aeroplanes, and the masters rode in them.

Human Moles

There was a third, or intermediate class, the service class, who lived above ground. This included the personal servants, farm workers, clerks, etc., but mechanical inventions had progressed so rapidly that in the houses of the supermen most of the menial tasks were done by machines, and even in the enormous mansion of Masterman the staff of servants was smaller than would have been necessary to run a Hyde Park mansion in the twentieth century.

This class annoyed Masterman, and he always felt that he could not claim to have accomplished complete success till he had supplanted it by machinery.

A little tinkle by a concealed bell told Masterman it was one minute to twelve, and he touched another button on his television desk which gave his a view of the works. It was a grim sight that showed itself in the mirror. From the underground dwellings of the workers there ascended a succession of giant lifts. Each lift held a hundred workers. Masterman's system had worked so well that he had reduced the workers to a level as complete as the sameness of the uniforms they wore.

It was hardly possible to tell one of these human moles from the other. They were all dressed in a dark blue uniform of overalls, their heads were shaven, and through continuous living underground all had a complexion like stale dough.

As the lifts stopped at the ground floor the workers were marshalled in fours by the overseers and marched off to the factories. they moved with a slow, mechanical step, like men who had not a hope in this world and no faith in the world to come.

Each man bore a double number. The first did duty for a name, the second indicated the machine he controlled. These machines were the product of the brain of John Masterman and his assistant, an inventor named Rotwang.

The machinery was hidden and all that one saw in the factories was a number of huge steel shields in the form of a clock face.

There were numbers painted on the clock face from "1" to "10," and between these numbers, just as the minute spaces in a clock, were other numbers. The machine was aptly called the clock machine, and it was controlled by two huge hands which were manipulated by the workmen. If, for instance, a particular machine was making the rim of a motor-car wheel, every process in the manufacture was regulated and carried out by the hands of the clock machine. The worker would move the hands from number to number, according to a card given him when he first started on the job. Soon he got to know the changes of the numbers by heart, and therefore the card was not used.

"One to five, five to seven, seven to ten," and so on. So ran the instructions for this soulless task. And for twelve hours the human machines tugged at the hands of the clock machines. The work was heavy -so heavy that Masterman's medical experts had told him that the workers could not find sufficient energy to carry on for more than eight hours.

Masterman had soon found a way to overcome that objection. He had set his mind on a two-shift day, twelve hours for each workman, and once he had made up his mind he brought all the resources of science and his own indomitable will to impose his will on the undermen.

His medical experts had proved their case when men were made to work twelve hours at the clock machine had fainted from sheer weariness, but Masterman got over that. Rotwang made him a machine that acted in this way - if a workman fainted at his task a thousand jets of steam were turned on the factory. So terrible was the torture that even if the fainting workman could not recover one man would work two machines while his neighbour ran to work the one at which the man had fainted.

But it was rarely that the steam had to be turned on. The workers knew the penalty of fainting and kept on. Often they died as they handed over the machine to the relief hand. But of course that meant nothing to Masterman. The worker's body was simply cast into a lime pit and that was the end of him.

Flesh and blood had never been so cheap. The human mole multiplied so fast that there was no danger of the machines lacking minders. Masterman controlled the birth-rate as efficiently as he controlled every other thing. Masterman boasted that he never allowed anything to interfer with his system. Therefore he would have been very angry had he put on his television apparatus some two hours after he had seen his son Eric win the race.

Eric and his friends were sitting in the shade of one of the huge fountains of the playing fields. Suddenly there came upon them a crowd of children led by a girl. The girl was so striking in appearance that Eric forgot all about the intrusion and could only gaze at her in a sort of trance-like admiration. She was so fair that the fairest of the girls around him seemed coarse and dusky by comparison. Her hair was the colour of pale corn and her eyes as blue as the waters of a deep lake. Her face was pale, but of a clear pallor that betokened health, and her figure was as slim and straight as a young poplar, except where nature's curves told that she was just emerging from girlhood to womanhood.

As Eric and his companions looked at her, she raised one beautifully moulded arm and pointed to them.

"These children, are your brothers and sisters," she said, in a low, musical voice.

The children, who were attired in the blue smocks of the workers, simply stared at the children of the rich in an uncomprehending way. They were to them beings of another world and the children were as startled and confused as if they had suddenly been brought through the gates of Heaven.

They blinked their sad eyes at the bright sunshine and they stared and remained motionless. the effect on the children of the rich was just as strange. They knew these were children of the workers, because though they never, or very seldom, saw the workers, they knew they existed. Now they felt angry at the sight of the underground children, as the rich men of all ages have felt annoyed at the sight of a beggar's sores. But though they were angry, they were afraid. There was something about the beautiful, fair girl that made them look small.

A Visitor from the Underworld

The girls sought courage in looking at each other and smoothing their silken Grecian gowns. The young men laughed uneasily as they looked at Eric, just as guests will look at their host when a poor relation suddenly appears at a fashionable dinner party.

As for Eric, he had no thought for anybody except the girl. He could not have analysed his feelings. He was simply overcome by the sight of the girl.

"Where are the servants?" asked one of the young men snappishly. "Have these brats turned out, Eric."

Eric heard him, but he did not take any notice of the remark. He got up and walked towards the girl.

"Who are you? What is your name?" he asked.

"I am called Mary," she answered. "I am of the people your father treats as slaves."

She looked at him steadily and then went on.

"You look kind. Have you never thought of your brothers and sisters who are condemned to live underground, who never see the sun and never breathe the pure air?"

"I didn't know. I mean, I have never been told much," stammered Eric.

"It is your duty to know," said the girl. "Look at the colour of these poor children and the colour of you and your companions. Is it right that one should live underground like an animal while another should enjoy the sunlight and air? In the workers' home it is said you have stolen God's light from them. That is a terrible thing."

"I will see my father," said Eric. "I do not pretend to understand it, though I have often felt that the system under which we live is not right."

"It is the most iniquitous system that ever existed," said Mary. "Evil it is, and only evil can come out of it. I hope you speak the truth when you say you will see your father about it."

"I suppose you must despise me, but I do not lie," said Eric. "I will see my father and get him to alter things, but first you and these children must be my guests. I will order the servants to wait on them."

"No. I am going back now," said Mary. "The children are frightened. They have never seen the sun before. Watch them. Even God's pure air is too strong for them to breathe in comfort. Is it not terrible?"

"It's ghastly!" said Eric, horrified as he saw the children were actually having some difficulty in breathing. "But will you believe me, Mary, when I say I never knew, and that I mean to have it altered? My father will do anything I ask him."

Mary smiled at him.

"I do believe you," she said. "It will be wonderful news to the workers, and even if you do not succeed I shall know you have tried."

As she spoke a number of servants came rushing up and started to drive the children down the staircase which led to the roof.

"Leave them alone!" shouted Eric, throwing one of the servants violently to the ground.

"You must not do that," said Mary, laying her hand on his arm. "These men are but the victims of the system of the Metropolis. They are not to blame for what the supermen have done. I will take the children away."

There was something so commanding in the girl that the servants fell back and stood rigidly to attention as she marshalled the children and shepherded them down the staircase.

"Do believe in me, Mary," called out Eric, as she turned at the top of the staircase.

"Always I will believe in you," she replied. "In your eyes dwells Truth."

Eric rushed back and took the lift to his father's office. He burst on the master of Metropolis like a raging typhoon. His indignation was such that he was almost incoherent as he told the story of Mary's visit with the children, but he paused with unconscious dramatic effect as he concluded:

"You have stolen God's sunlight from these poor people, and you've got to put it back."

Masterman had listened without making one interruption. He now turned to his son.

"You mention the name of God. Do you know what it means?"

"No. But it must be wonderful, because there was such a fine light in Mary's eyes as she spoke the word."

A look of relief came in the eyes of Masterman. Has Eric been able to read his father's thoughts at that moment he would have been astounded. For the chief superman was thinking, "What could the girl know about God? That religion has been dead for three hundred years. Yet Eric's mother died with the name of God on her lips and her last wish had been that the blinds should be pulled up so she could see the sunlight."

To his son he said:

"What you ask is impossible. For cleverer men than I have tried to make all people equal and failed. You must trust me when I say there must always be in this and each succeeding generation, the Supermen and the Undermen. That is the keystone of the marvellous organisation under which we live."

"I don't believe it!" shouted Eric. "I don't know anything. You and your wonderful system have seen to that. But there's something in me which your system has not killed. It doesn't come from my brain. I don't know myself what it is, but it's there. It responded to the light that shone in Mary's eyes today. I tell you I don't know what it is but I'm going to find out."

Eric dashed from the room, and Masterman did not attempt to call him back.

For fully ten minutes he sat at his desk staring dully at the wall of his office. Then he touched one of the many buttons on his desk.

Almost immediately his chief secretary, Joseph Venn, entered.

In a calm voice that was not in keeping with his turbulent thoughts, the master of Metropolis told Joseph the story of Mary's visit and the subsequent scene with his son.

All the time he was speaking Masterman did not trouble to look at Joseph.

"You will find all there is to be known about this girl," said Masterman. "It may be that I shall find it necessary to kill her."

(To be continued)


{Part 2 - Picture Show, 8 October 1927, volume 17, no.440, pages 6-7, 20. NB: A summary of the first part is included at the beginning of Part 2.}

Metropolis
Adapted from incidents in the Wardour photo-play.
Begin This Entertaining Serial Today

Read This First

It had come at last - a world run by machinery. The man-made machine had made a machine of man. Countries and nationalities no longer existed. The world was divided into Supermen and Undermen. The Undermen did all the work and, lived underground, the fresh air and sunshine being reserved for the Supermen and their servants. Chief of Supermen was John Masterman, the master of the city of Metropolis. While his son Eric is playing games with his companions, a girl of the workers named Mary, brings a number of the children of the Underground to them, saying "Look children. These are your brothers and sisters." Eric is shocked when he learns from Mary the conditions under which the workers live. He demands from his father that he shall give God's sunshine back to the workers. Masterman tells him that he asks the impossible, and then sends for his chief secretary, Joseph Venn, saying: "Find out all about this girl Mary. It may be that I shall have to kill her."

Eric Learns More Truths

As Eric dashed from his father's office along the passage, he suddenly saw a young man who was pointing an automatic pistol at his own head. Eric shouted and the young man lowered the pistol.

As soon as the young man saw Eric he half raised the pistol.

"It would be only fair if I killed you before ending my own life," he said.

"What have you against me?" asked Eric.

"Nothing, except you're the son of the despot who rules Metropolis. But in the mind of the workers that would be sufficient reason for killing you."

"I am afraid it would," agreed Eric. "But I would like you to know that until about an hour ago I had no idea how terribly the workers were treated. If you would come to my rooms I would like to talk to you."

"Very well," said the young man, after a moment's hesitation.

Eric got his companion to his rooms without being observed by any of the servants.

"First of all," he said, "I would like you to tell me why you were going to end your life. By your dress I see you are one of my father's secretaries."

"I was until a few hours ago. My name is Carl Marson. Your father discharged me for making a slight mistake. I think the real reason was that I had shown some sympathy with the workers underground. Anyway, I was discharged and there is nothing left for me except to become one of the underground workers and live in slavery or die a free man. I had chosen the latter course when you stopped me."

"I am glad I did", said Eric. "In our meeting I see a change to begin the work I have pledged myself to do - the destruction of a system which makes slaves of one section of humanity so that another section may live in idleness and luxury."

Marson looked at Eric suspiciously.

"What has made you come to this decision? You are twenty-two, yet until now I never knew you were interested in the workers. Is it that you are still afraid I shall kill myself and are trying to talk me round?"

"I cannot blame you for being suspicious, Carl, but I think you will believe me when I tell you how I got to know the truth. You must know, being in my father's office, that I have been as much shut off from the workers as they are from me. I am a prisoner in a palace while they are prisoners in a cell."

"A vast difference," said Marson bitterly. "But proceed."

Eric then told him how he had seen and talked with Mary, and all that happened between his father and himself afterwards.

"I believe in your desire to free the workers," said Carl, when Eric had finished, "but the task is impossible. Your father has already told you that, but in a different way to what I mean. He would not free the workers even for you, the only being he loves - the only one in this vast Metropolis to whom he has appeared in any guise than a monster. I tell you that that system is so strong that you could not break it."

"If 1 knew the task to be impossible and that it would cost me my life I should still attempt it,' said Eric determinedly. "But I mean to succeed. If Mary could convince me that the system is wrong in just a few minutes, why should it be impossible for me to convince my father?"

"It may be that you could move him, though I doubt it," said Carl half-heartedly. "What are your plans?"

"Until I met you I had none," said Eric. "Now you have given me an idea. I will take your place as a worker. I suppose you have all the necessary papers?"

"Yes. I am now a mere number, with the number of the time machine I have been given to work. There would be no difficulty in your taking my place, but how would you account for your disappearance from the land of sunshine?"

"Easily enough. I will leave a message for my father saying I am going to study the system under which I have been living, and that I must have ten days in which to consider it before I see him again. I shall insist that nobody enters my apartments except my personal servant, Nicholas. We will take Nicholas into our confidence and we can trust him. He owes his life to me."

"And what do you propose to do about me?" asked Marson.

"You will take my place here. Nicholas will wait on you and nobody will be the wiser."

"But your father will almost certainly call to see you after the argument you had to-day."

"I feel sure he will not, but in any case Nicholas will see to it that he does not get to see you."

That night found Eric enrolled as No. 7709 among the Undermen. He was fixed for the twelve am-day shift on the following morning, Saturday, and given a tiny cubicle in one of the huge barracks underground, which were the dwellings of the single men.

Eric was astounded at the silence which reigned in the big electrically lighted squares which were sarcastically called recreation grounds.

A number of men were playing cards and other games, but the majority were sleeping to get strength for their task in the morning.

Feeling that it might not be safe to mix with the workers at first, Eric retired early, but he had little sleep. His mind was too occupied with the terrible conditions of the world of the Undermen, a world of which he had known nothing during the twenty-two years of his life.

He was marched with the other workers to a big canteen at ten o'clock the next morning to get the main meal of the working day. The food was good and plentiful, for the masters knew that the men must be well fed if they were to work well.

At twenty minutes to twelve the ascent to the time machines began by way of the giant lifts.

When Eric got to his machine he found an extra man waiting with the one working on it. This man stayed with him for an hour showing him the changes to be made by the huge fingers.

As he left he put a small piece of paper into Eric's hands and whispered: "Be careful Grot does not see it. They wouldn't hesitate to remove our leader if they knew our secret. We trust you because we know it is for showing sympathy to us you have been sent underground."

"Who is Grot?" asked Eric.

"The man with the big black beard on the platform behind you. He is the supreme foreman of the factory."

The man walked away, and Eric glanced at the paper, having made sure the foreman was not looking his way.

The writing on the paper read: "Thirty minutes after midnight in the Catacombs. Be awake. A friend will call for you."

Wondering what it could mean, Eric hid the paper in his shirt and went on with his work.

At first he found it fairly easy, for he had attained great strength by athletics, but after he had been working four hours the strain began to tell, especially on his hands which were softly not being accustomed to manual labour. After six hours there was a break of twenty minutes for soup. It did not taste appetising, but it had wonderful invigorating powers. But after ten hours Eric felt on the point of exhaustion. It was only with the greatest difficulty that he dragged the huge fingers of the machine from number to number and he felt that his back was breaking.

He was hanging on the fingers of the time machine almost in a state of collapse when there came an unexpected and terrible interruption to his labours.

A huge machine at one end of the factory, shaped like a massive tank, suddenly blew up.

As Eric turned at the sound of the explosion he saw bodies of scores of men being hurled in the air. To his horror many of the bodies were blown to pieces, and a severed head fell almost to his feet. With the explosion came clouds of escaping steam, and the place became a perfect pandemonium.

Injured men were shrieking in agony, and the time machine workers nearest the big machine who had escaped the results of the explosion were running to the exit door screaming like madmen.

The big foreman was almost the only one who retained his presence of mind.

He manipulated levers which stopped the time machines, thus preventing another explosion, then with another lever he threw open the exit doors, at the same time shouting in a voice that could be heard above the panic: "All uninjured men stand by to rescue the injured. The fans will clear the steam in a few minutes."

A series of huge fans now began to work, and as the factory began to get clear of steam, a rescue party came from some other part of the building carrying stretchers, oil for burns, and other medical appliances.

Though he was almost sick with horror, Eric went to the aid of the rescue parties and helped to carry away the injured.

"Leave the dead where they lie," roared Grot.

It was the most sensible and humane thing to do, since the injured were needing all the attention the rescue parties could give, but Eric felt that there was a callousness in the way the order was given that symbolised the whole soullessness of the system.

Before the injured had been taken away and the wreckage of the explosion cleared, the midnight shift arrived and Eric and his party were relieved.

The Spirit of Faith

As Eric entered his cubicle he was followed by a worker who tapped him on the shoulder.

"If you are still with us, follow me," said the man.

"Can you ask after that explosion?" answered Eric.

The man led him to a manhole which led to the sewers, down which the workers were descending with the methodical orderliness that marked all their actions.

To Eric's astonishment, nobody spoke except a few words to accelerate descent, such as: "Wait till the first platform is clear."

He would have expected them to be talking violently about the explosion and the system that was responsible for it, but not a single word was said about the tragedy, though every man going down the manhole had witnessed it.

At some distance above the sewers there was a tunnel at right-angles which led to the Catacombs.

The Catacombs, Eric discovered later, had been found by a workman when the sewer were being laid, and he had kept the secret from the masters.

Eric's guide led him to a huge vaulted chamber at the further end of which was an altar made of rock, lighted by a number of candles.

As Eric and his guide took their seats on a low form, the curtains at the back of the altar parted and Mary stopped forward.

She stood there for a few moments until silence was complete and then knelt down. The workers also knelt and Mary recited the Lord's Prayer, the meeting repeating it after her.

Eric, who had never heard it before (for the Christian religion had not been taught to the children of the Supermen) felt the power of its simplicity, and realised the God of which Mary had spoken was a power much mightier than that wielded by those who called themselves masters of the world.

Then Mary began to preach, or rather talk, to the meeting. She counselled a policy of patience, saying they must have faith in God who would in his own good time send a mediator who would make an understanding between the Supermen and the Undermen, just as He had sent his Son centuries before to save the world.

Mary spoke with simple words, but there was in them an earnestness which could only have been inspired by the spirit of a great faith. Eric found himself thrilled and uplifted, and that this religion was the one weapon by which the soulless system of the Supermen could be destroyed.

Looking round he saw many of the workers were in tears, and the whole meeting was deeply moved.

"Today the world is divided," concluded Mary. "The Supermen have the brains and the Undermen the heart. It is within me to know that there will come among us a mediator who will join the brain of the one and the heart of the other, and then the shackles will fall from the bodies of the workers."

There was a low murmur of applause as Mary finished, but there were a few men in the front seats who were not so impressed.

"You hove told us to wait so many times, Mary," said one. "We have waited long and patiently, but we are still slaves. Even now Rotwang, the men who has invented all Masterman's accursed machines is locked in his work-shop making some other monster which can only be intended to enslave us still further."

"Not even the cunning of Rotwang can prevail against the justice of God," replied Mary.

"Have faith and the cause of righteousness shall triumph.''

There was something so compelling in the voice of Mary, something so inspired in the light of her eyes, that the questioner sat down and remained silent.

The Robot Woman

Half an hour after the meeting in the Catacombs had finished, Joseph Venn, Masterman's chief secretary, stood before his master, so erect arid stiff that he looked more like a machine than a human being.

In a machine-like manner he told his master all that had happened at the meeting, but he made no mention of Eric because he had not seen him. He had, however, taken the numbers of the majority of the workers who had attended the meeting, and now offered them to Masterman.

But the latter pushed the paper back.

"There is no need, Joseph," he said. " When I punish this rabble I shall not differentiate. To me they are but so many cogs in the wheels of my machine, and when I am ready I shall grind the lot to dust. I shall annihilate the lot."

"A world without workers, master? " said Joseph. " Surely that is impossible?"

"It may not be so impossible as you think, Joseph," replied Masterman, with a grim smile. "But that matter does not concern you. Make arrangements so that you can put your hand on this girl at the moment I want her. I suppose there is no danger of your being suspected?"

"None, whatever, master. With the mask face Rotwang made for me there is no possibility of my being recognised."

Masterman remained silent for some time. Then he spoke without looking at his secretary.

"Get the preaching girl now, Joseph, and take her to the house of Rotwang. She is getting a little too powerful to be allowed her freedom."

The chief Superman waved his hand as a sign of dismission, and Joseph departed as noiselessly as a well-oiled machine.

A Worker in Magic

Late as was the hour, Masterman left his office for the house of Rotwang the inventor. He knew he would find Rotwang awake, for, like the sorcerers of old, the inventor preferred working in the night.

A small aeroplane which stood ready day and night conveyed Masterman to Rotwang's house, which was in the centre of a wood about two miles from the city.

As Masterman strode up the little narrow path that led to the house the door opened, and a powerful electric light shone on the figure of the inventor.

His face and figure were so weird as to look inhuman. He was dressed in a tight-fitting costume of black, which accentuated the parchment-like pallor of his skin. The face was like a death mask, but the eyes were black and burning with the fierce light that one sees in the eyes of a madman. His right hand was made of steel, for he had lost the natural member during one of his experiments, and it was with this hand that he waved a welcome to Masterman.

As the chief Superman stepped across the threshold the door closed behind him, apparently on its own volition, for Rotwang did nothing to make it.

"I was going to send for you when I sensed you coming," said Rotwang.

"You mean you have succeeded! " cried Masterman excitedly stirred for once out of his usual icy calm.

"Did you doubt my powers? " snapped Rotwang impatiently. "I have never failed, and I never shall."

He spoke in the tones of an equal; the only man in the vast Metropolis who dare adopt such an attitude to Masterman, and there was something almost deferential in the tone in which Masterman answered him.

"I know your powers, but this thing was stupendous, even far you. Can I see it?"

"We are going to him now. Not it - him, you understand," said Rotwang. "My invention is so wonderful as that."

He led him way down a series of passages to his workshop, and as he went forward electric lights gleamed out and then went out as soon as the two men had passed them.

At a door on his right he paused and produced a key. Up to then all the doors through which they had passed had opened at their approach and closed after them.

"You think it strange that I, a modern magician, should use a key, an instrument of the past," he said with a chuckle. "Let me tell you, my friend, that for the chief factor in the marvel I have just achieved I had to go back over two thousand years. I am convinced that this age, which you so called Supermen call perfect, would look cheap compared to dynasties that ruled before this so-called civilisation was born. My secret spring-locks some inventor of this age might fathom, but there is not a man living who could enter this room without the aid of the key I hold in my hand."

Masterman said nothing. Often he thought that the genius of this strange man, whose inventions had enabled him to become the master of Metropolis, had passed the borderline that leads to madness.

They entered the room, which was at once flooded with light.

"There!" shouted Rotwang. "There he is."

He pointed his steel hand, with its talon-like claws, to a dais.

In the centre of the dais was a chair in which sat something which looked like a mummy, except it was the colour of blue steel.

"Now, look carefully." said Rotwang.

As he spoke a bright light shone on the figure and revealed the face clearly.

"It is No. 6679!" shouted Masterman.

"This is no manufactured robot, but the man himself. You have covered him with paint, that is all."

"Ha, ha!" screamed Rotwang. "You will never pay me a bigger compliment than that. Your accusation of fraud is my triumph. Come!"

He stepped through another door, and in a few yards came to a barred cell. A light flashed as they approached, and the occupant of the cell sprang from a couch.

"Let me out! Let me out!" he shrieked.

"The hell of the time machine is nothing to what he makes me go through."

Neither of the two men took the slightest notice of the prisoner's words, though both were looking at him. On tho face of Rotwang was a look of triumph; on that of Masterman one of utter amazement, as one who had seen something accomplished which his mind was not big enough to grasp.

"Come!" said Rotwang.

Neither heeded the frenzied shrieks of the prisoner as they made their way back to the other room.

"I feel I can't ask any questions," said Masterman. "Of course, he does everything you claimed he would do?"

"Everything," replied the inventor. "Watch!"

He touched a button, and the figure rose. Then it began to walk. Body, arms, and legs responded to some mysterious force controlled by Rotwang, going through various movements until Rotwang sent it back to the chair.

"The colour of the face," said Masterman. "Could you get the exact complexion of No. 6679?"

"Of course," replied Rotwang testily.

"And speech. Could you make him speak?"

"Whet a fool you are!" shouted the inventor. "I have produced a human being, not a machine. But you specially said you did not want him to speak. The chemicals in his body are as yours and mine. He will need food Iike you and me. I could have given you a robot in half the time. Of coarse I could have given him the power of speech."

"Don't get angry," almost pleaded Masterman. "It is a new idea I have got. One that if you carry it out will make even this masterpiece of yours seem poor."

As he spoke there came a flashing of lights on the wall.

"It is Joseph," said Masterman reading the lights. "Soon you will understand."

Rotwang pressed a number of buttons and presently Joseph came in carrying Mary in his arms.

"I have brought her, master," he said simply.

"Go, Joseph. You have done well. Place her on that couch," said Masterman.

The secretary placed Mary on a couch and went out. The girl must have been drugged or hypnotised for she gave no sign of life. Whatever was the cause of her condition, both men were apparently aware of it, for they did not show any sign of alarm.

"now, I will tell you my idea," said Masterman. "There is a girl of the people preaching the old Christian religion. That is the girl. Make me one exactly like her, so that she can preach when I desire. Can you do it?"

"As easily as I made him," answered Rotwang.

"Then we have completely conquered the world " shouted Masterman.

(To be concluded)


{Part 3 - Picture Show, 15 October 1927, pages 16-18.}

Metropolis

Adapted from incidents in the Wardour photo-play.
Is this mad dreaming? Or is the world headed for such a fate 1,000 years from now? Towering miles in the sky; digging deep into the earth! Men of iron; women of steel! Motors instead of hearts; hate instead of love!Human machines-!
To Conquer the World

Rotwang sat unmoved at Masterman's triumphant declaration flint with a Robot fashioned as Mary he could completely conquer the world.

He was not interested in anything except his inventions, and if the Undermen had suddenly come into power he would have worked for them as willingly as he had worked for the Supermen.

He began to talk in scientific language which was so complicated that even Masterman had some difficulty in following the inventor's idea, but he gathered that the Robot Mary would be controlled by hypnotic suggestion so that she would preach to the workers exactly as Masterman himself desired.

"That is it exactly, " said the Master of Metropolis. "With Mary as my mouthpiece the workers will be completely under my dominion. They will be acquiescent, not seething with revolt as they are now. When will the new Mary be ready?"

"In twenty-four hours," answered Rotwang.

"You must tell Joseph to bring the real Mary's clothes, and tell him to find out how she wore them. For example, what dress she wore when preaching."

They discussed and arranged many other details, and Masterman went back to his mansion feeling that by the aid of Rotwang he had accomplished the greatest achievement of his life. It had been his original intention to supplant human workers by an army of Robots like the one the inventor had shown him, but the new scheme was better, for it gave him the satisfaction of controlling the minds and bodies of real human-beings. Just as Rotwang lived for his inventions, so did Masterman live solely for power.

He craved for it as a drug addict craves for drugs, and the more power he got the more he wanted.

At present he was master of Metropolis and a big power in the Council of the Chief Supermen in other parts of the world, but now he began to visualise a scheme would would give him absolute power over the other Supermen.

He could invite them one at a time to a conference and kidnap them as Mary had been kidnapped, and send back one of Rotwang's Robots in their place.

But be realised that the big scheme must wait till the Robot Mary had been thoroughly tested.

Promptly to the appointed time he presented himself at the house of Rotwang.

He could tell by the inventor's face that he had succeeded.

"You shall judge for yourself," said Rotwang, hurrying him to the locked room.

The false Mary was sitting in the big chair, and as Masterman caught sight of her he stepped back with a gasp, so perfect was the likeness. The Robot smiled as he entered, and Masterman felt a creepy sensation in his spine. He was an atheist, believing in nothing but science and the power of his own, but this creation of the inventor's frightened him. It savoured of the black acts of which Masterman had read more than most men.

But the lust for power soon quelled his misgivings.

"Make her speak," he whispered to Rotwang.

The inventor was standing by Masterman, and he touched nothing, but Mary rose from the chair aud began to speak.

"Submission to the masters is the only hope of happiness for the workers," said the false Mary. "We must work harder and serve more faithfully if we are to be ready for the great day when we shall be led back to the sunshine."

She sat back in the chair and apparently went to sleep.

"I had no time to suggest more of the speech you left for her," said Rotwang. "There were certain other matters that needed my attention. But tomorrow night she will give the whole speech to the workers."

"There are no words to describe the marvel," said Masterman, sinking into a chair.

She is perfect," gloated Rotwang "but there is one question which you ought to have asked. A part in the making that caused me the most trouble - the voice. But that you shall judge for yourself."

Rotwang led Masterman to a room in which the real Mary was a prisoner.

"I have brought the master of Metropolis to see you," said Rotwang. "If you can persuade him that your religion is right, you and the workers shall he given what you demand."

Mary then began to plead the cause of the Undermen, and a great hope came into her heart as she saw how intently Masterman was listening. Was it possible that she could convert him as she had converted his son?

But her hope was dashed when Masterman suddenly said: "Shut her up, Rotwang! Her babbling does not interest me. But you are right. The voice is exactly the same."

The two men walked away, and the lights went out, leaving Mary very frightened. Why had she been brought to Rotwang's? Why had she been placed in that huge glass cylinder while a million lights played on her? Why had Masterman listened so intently and then said her talk was "babble"? What did he mean by, "Her voice is exactly the same?"

Mary could find no answer to these perplexing questions, and at last she fell into an uneasy sleep.

In the meantime, Rotwang and Masterman were making further tests with the Robot Mary, and the master of Metropolis was more and more amazed at the perfection of Rotwang's creation. Put as the last test finished, and the false Mary was sinking back in her chair, Masterman saw the left eyelid droop ever so slightly, but the result was astounding.

The ethereal sweetness of Marys' face had gone - the drooping of the eyelid made a leer so diabolical that the saint-like face was completely changed to that of a siren, and it seemed to Masterman that the diabolical leer was a challenge to him.

But as he stretched out his band to draw the attention of Rotwang to the change, the false Mary smiled, and the face was as sweet as ever.

Masterman said nothing to Rotwang. He knew that if he suggested that the inventor's creation was imperfect Rotwang would fly into a rage. Besides, Rotwang himself had been looking closely at the false Mary when he had noticed the leer, and it was clear that the inventor had seen nothing.

"I am over tired, and my eyes must have deceived me," thought Masterman.

But on the journey to his mansion, and until he fell asleep, he was troubled. He could not persuade himself that the diabolical leer had been an optical delusion, and he still had the feeling that it had been a challenge to his power.

Searching for Mary

The news that Mary had been spirited away flew quickly round the workers of the Undermen.

Eric heard it, and, like the others, quickly decided it was the work of his fattier or one of his many spies.

He realised he could do no good by remaining underground any longer.

The one way to find her was to see his father and demand the truth.

But it was not till the afternoon of the day that Masterman had seen the testing of the false Mary that Eric was able to get an interview with his father.

Eric told him of his experiences as a worker of the time machines, and when the master of Metropolis learned that his son had been in the explosions his face. changed colour.

"It's a miracle you weren't killed," he said.

"What about the scores who were killed, and the many more who were maimed for life? " cried Eric. "Is there no pity in your heart for them?"

They were just workers," sneered Masterman. "Why do you trouble about those people?"

"Because they are my brothers, just as much as the rich people," replied Eric.

"You don't understand these questions," said his father soothingly. "There must be a division of class. It is the logical outcome of our civilisation."

"Civilisation!" mocked Eric. "There is no civilisation for them. They live in a state of slavery. But you and your friends are living on the edge of a volcano. One day there will be such a rising and such massacres as have never boon witnessed. It is only the preaching of Mary that keeps them from rising. And now you have taken Mary away. Where is she? You must set her free."

"How should I know anything about this girl of the workers," said his father contemptuously. "She means just as much to me as the cog of one of my machines."

"And that is how you must regard me in future unless you free Mary and do justice to the rest of the workers."

"You mean you would side with the Undermen against your own class?"

"Yes, father. I will no longer live by the sweat of other men's brows."

The idea of his son even mixing with the workers was intolerable to Masterman, and rather than allow it he would have had him forcibly prevented from carrying out his threat, but the thought of the robot Mary and what she would accomplish stayed his hand. When his son heard Mary pleading to the workers to be more humble and give greater service ho would give up his quixotic ideas about saving the people, for he would see they were not worth saving.

Therefore he choked back his anger and merely said: "You will think differently when you have had more experience."

"I shall always think the same," said Eric. "Once more, father - will you have Mary set free?"

"I know nothing about the girl," lied Masterman. "If you are feel enough to be concerned about her, search for her."

"That I mean to do," retorted Eric.

Having failed to move his father, Eric went to his rooms and saw Carl Marson.

"I can't see why they should have kidnapped Mary," said Carl thoughtfully. "Though she has the cause of the workers at heart she has also unconsciously been serving the Supermen, because had she not counselled patience and given them the consolation of religion there would have been an insurrection before this. But you never know what the Supermen are doing until the thing is done. And that reminds me. I have found a secret passage leading from here to the workers dwellings. I saw Joseph Venn moving along very mysteriously and followed him. It will be of great advantage to us."

"That seems to suggest that if it was Venn who kidnapped Mary, she may be in this house," said Eric.

"She's not here, Eric," said Carl. "The same idea struck me and I got Nicholas to scout round. He is positive she is not here."

Eric decided to try the house of Rotwang, though he had little hope of finding Mary if she was in the power of the wizard.

The inventor denied all knowledge of the girl and told Eric to search the place if he did not believe him. Eric did so, but Rotwang could close up the room in which Mary was a prisoner by an ingenious arrangement that defied detection.

When he got back to his rooms he found Carl in a state of great excitement. He had just heard that Mary had returned and that a special meeting of the workers was being called.

Eric and Carl went down by Joseph's secret passage and by the time they had

got to the Catacombs they found the place packed.

Just as they took their seats Mary came through the curtains at the back of the altar.

Eric, who, like the others, had no suspicion that it was not the real Mary, was struck at the change in her appearance.

From the sweet, ethereal-looking girl she had changed to a stern-faced woman. As the workers began to kneel according to the custom they had always followed of opening the meeting with the Lord's Prayer, Mary commanded them to stand up.

"The time has passed for prayer," she cried. "We must strike - not talk! We must smash

those monsters who have tyrannised over us for so many years!"

There was a shout of applause at this that Mary the robot could not be heard for some time. Eric was wondering what could have changed the sweet, gentle Mary he had known into the firebrand, and, not illogically, he came to the conclusion that those who had kidnapped her must have treated her with terrible cruelty.

Joseph Venn, sitting in the front disguised by the face mask Rotwang had made him, was also wondering what had caused the change, but his wonder took the form of an alarm that amounted to terror.

Masterman and Rotwang had decided to take Joseph into their confidence and he had been present at what may he termed the final dress rehearsal, when the robot Mary had spoken the lines of Masterman, telling the workers to be content and give more service. Joseph badly wanted to rush from the meeting and warn his master that Rotwang's masterpiece had betrayed him, but he dare not attempt to get out before the meeting finished.

The abduction of Mary had made the workers suspicious and they were on guard against the spy that they knew must have been in their midst.

They had drawn up a guard of six men against the exit from the Catacomb and Joseph

was wise enough to know that any man who tried to get out just then would not only be suspected as a spy, but would be judged one without trial and sentenced on the spot.

Joseph shivered as he thought how the sentence of death would be carried out by the men he saw around him.

The hatred of a life time was mirrored in the smouldering fire that burned in their eyes.

Joseph had seen the same light in the eyes of a man-eating tiger that Masterman had bought for his private zoo. A dull, deadly, smouldering light that would burst into a blaze when the victim was within striking distance.

The Catacombs, letting in little air, were like a hothouse.

Before Mary the robot had appeared, Joseph had been wiping the perspiration from his face, but now the sweat stuck cold and clammy on him.

He realised that the workers whom Masterman always dismissed with some contemptuous epithet as "the rabble," or " the mob," were a force that would have to be reckoned with in a few minutes.

They were shout questions at Mary the robot, asking her where she had been and who had taken her away.

The false Mary silenced them with an impatient gesture.

"You are like old women," she shouted. "What does anything matter except the big

thing. Smash the machines! Destroy the things that have enslaved you."

The crowd took up her words.

"Smash the machines!" they shouted as they surged to the exit.

It was then that Joseph understood what had happened - Mary the robot had been allowed to go from Rotwang's without being primed with Masterman's speech. The master of Metropolis and the inventor had been so interested in their scheme that they had forgotten to put the speech into Mary's mind by hypnotic suggestion They had done so at the rehearsal, but Rotwang had then put Mary to sleep, and, as Joseph remembered the inventor saying, the mind of Mary the robot was like a battery. It had to be constantly recharged. After each sleep her brain was a blank record, sensitive to the words or even the thoughts of those around her. So it was that instead of giving the workers Masterman's humility speech, she was echoing the thoughts of the workers around her.

Joseph had no time to consider the truth that had flashed through his brain. He was being carried along to the exit by the frenzied mod.

"Smash the machines!"

The slogan split the humid air of the Catacombs. It echoed along the passage that led to the sewer tunnel; crashed against the slimy concrete walls of the tunnel and reached the arc of a crescendo as the workers poured into the factory where the time machines stood like clocks run down; for the effects of the explosion had been so tremendous that the machines and the men who minded them had to be given a rest.

Grot, the foreman, looking like a Viking on his dias, tried to stop the mob in their work of destruction.

"Fools! " he shouted. "If you wreck the machines you destroy the plant that keeps your houses supplied with air, light and water. Your wives and children will be murdered.

The mob heard but did not heed.

"Smash the machines!"

The slogan had now become a religious chant. It sank in the minds of the workers and sang tumultuously in their hearts.

Eric, bruised and battered, fought his way to the dwellings of the workers.

Grot was right. In destroying the machines the workers were destroying their homes and their children.

Huge slabs of concrete in the square were lifted like pie crusts and water shot up in gigantic fountains. Women and children were screaming in terror. Eric, powerless, impotent, could only look on. Suddenly the real Mary appeared.

She ran to Eric, and her command silenced the torrent of accusation that was on his lips.

"The air shaft!" cried Mary. "It's the only way."

She did not wait, but caught up a child and rushed to the air shaft.

"You will all be saved if you follow me!" she shouted.

The magic of her voice stopped the panic.

Eric suddenly found himself by the side of Carl. Above them was Mary, standing on one of the platforms which broke the circular iron stair-case which ran up the air shaft.

"I'll get the kiddies and pass them on to you and Mary," said Carl. The mothers, calmed by the presence of the real Mary, worked with Carl and every child was saved.

As Eric reached the surface of the city he was separated from Mary and Carl by a frenzied crowd, which was taking the false Mary to the centre of the square.

"Burn the witch!" they shouted. "Grot was right. She has destroyed our wives and children."

Eric, thinking the robot Mary was the real one, tried to get to her.

But while he was fighting his way through the mob the men who had captured the robot had torn the wooden rails of the square down and placed them round the robot. Somebody brought a tin of petrol and started the fire.

The false Mary, bound to a pillar, laughed and leered on the crowd as the flames twirled round her. The dropped eyelid that Masterman had noticed gave a diabolical grin to the saintly face.

Eric turned away in disgust. He had no longer any desire to save her.

And as he turned away from the false Mary, he saw the real one.

She was struggling with Rotwang on the roof of the City Hail.

Although up to that moment Eric had not suspected that there was anything wrong with the robot Mary, he now instinctively knew that the girl on the roof was the real Mary.

Eric rushed across the street and up the steps of the Town Hall. When he got on the roof, Mary had managed to break away from Rotwang who was chasing her round and round.

The inventor rushed at Eric as the young man placed himself between Mary and her pursuer, swinging his steel fist. Erie ducked and caught Rotwang round the waist.

In the ordinary way Rotwang would have been no match for Eric, but he was now mad, and was fighting with the strength of a maniac.

Locked together the two men rolled against the parapet.

"Down you go!" yelled Rotwang, lifting Eric off his feet, but Eric broke the hold and, bending low, he seized Rotwang below the knees and hurled him over the parapet.

By this time the crowd had been drawn from the burning of the false Maria by the struggle on the roof, and as Rotwang fell the real Mary stood on the parapet and signalled to them that she was coming down.

As she and Eric gained the street they were met by Masterman.

"Speak to them, Mary," he said. "Tell them that the days of slavery are over. Because my son has been spared I will devote my life to the people. I will rebuild Metropolis so that everybody shall share in the prosperity of the city."

And with her hand in that of Eric, Mary gave this message to th ,workers, adding: "It has come at last, all that I prophesied. The mediator between the brain that plans and the body that carries out the work must be a heart filled with love for all."

And as the crowd saw the look on Eric's face they knew that before long there would be a union of marriage between the daughter of the people and the son of the man who had been called the master of Metropolis.

(Adapted from incidents in the Wardour photo-play featuring Brigette Helm in the dual role of Mary and the Robot woman.)

Last updated: 18 October September 2006.


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