Freder: “It was their hands that built this city of ours, Father. But where do the hands belong in your scheme?”
Joh Frederson: “In their proper place, the depths.”
My fascination with Metropolis began long before I ever saw the film; it began with pictures of
the maschinenmensch as seen in various Science-Fiction compendiums. According to the Wiki, she is the first robot ever depicted in film. And who has topped her since? Robbie? No. Gort? Please. C-3PO? Getting warmer, but that’s only because C-3PO is such a blatant rip-off of the maschinenmensch to begin with. The original is still the best.
#2. The binary oppositions.
Father and son, privileged and poor, despot and proletariat, utopia and dystopia–there’s a lot going on in Metropolis. Granted, some of these are flip sides of the same coin and manifest themselves in the film with all the subtlety of a jackhammer, but Fritz Lang had something to say that at that point hadn’t been said a billion times before in any kind of film, much less a science-fiction piece. Or rather, his wife did, as according to Lang she (Thea von Harbou) is the one responsible for “the main thesis.”
#3. The incredible sets and matte paintings/the Art Deco aesthetic overall.
According to the Wiki, Metropolis was, “the most expensive film ever released up to that point,” and
it shows. Where would Blade Runner be without Metropolis? Or the whole Cyberpunk genre for that matter?
And finally, one Anti-Reason: Gustav Frohlich. He’s borderline unwatchable. It came out in 1927 for crying out loud, so you gotta give him some slack, but not all of the actors hammed it up like he did, and none was as over the top as he was. The pants and the hair are bad enough as it is; it would have been better for all had he stopped there.