Metropolis (1927) - full transcript

Sometime in the future, the city of Metropolis is home to a Utopian society where its wealthy residents live a carefree life. One of those is Freder Fredersen. One day, he spots a beautiful woman with a group of children, she and the children quickly disappear. Trying to follow her, he is horrified to find an underground world of workers who apparently run the machinery that keeps the Utopian world above ground functioning. One of the few people above ground who knows about the world below is Freder's father, John Fredersen, who is the founder and master of Metropolis. Freder learns that the woman is called Maria, who espouses the need to join the "hands" - the workers - to the "head" - those in power above - by a mediator who will act as the "heart". Freder wants to help the plight of the workers in their struggle for a better life. But when John learns of what Maria is advocating and that Freder has joined their cause, with the assistance of an old colleague. an inventor called Rotwang, who turns out to be But their nemesis goes to works towards quashing a proposed uprising, with Maria at the centre of their plan. John, unaware that Rotwang has his own agenda., makes plans that include shutting down the machines, with the prospect of unleashing total anarchy both above and below ground.

Soon after its premiere,
the film Metropolis

was severely truncated
and alterations were made.

From that time onward,
more than a quarter of the film

was assumed to have been lost.

Then, in 2008, a virtually complete
version of the film

was discovered in Buenos Aires.
What had been preserved

was, however, a heavily damaged
copy of the film

that had been printed to 16mm
film stock,

lacking the full frame
of the picture's original aspect ratio.

A considerable amount of the film
reconstruction was able to be completed

and the correct sequence
of its editing

established by means
of this Argentinian material.

Spanish intertitles have been translated
into German

with the aid of the censor-cards.

In order to display in their correct
position on the image

the cropped elements taken
from the 16mm negative,

the missing portion of the frame
has been marked by black.

The intertitles appear
with their original graphic treatment.

Those titles which appear in a different
typeface (like the one used here)

have been added to summarise
the content of still-missing scenes

as far as is necessary
to facilitate

an adequate understanding
of the storyline.

Shorter gaps are indicated
by small segments of black leader.

This film was produced by Ufa
and is distributed courtesy of Parufamet.

Direction: Fritz Lang.
Scenario: Thea von Harbou.

Production Design: Otto Hunte,
Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht.

At the Camera:
Karl Freund, Günther Rittau.

Music: Gottfried Huppertz.
Sculptor: Walter Schultze-Mittendorf.

Metropolis, a novel
by Thea von Harbou,

appeared in the publication
Illustriertes Blatt, Frankfurt,

and in book form
from August Scherl Verlag G.m.b.H.

The personages in the film:

Joh Fredersen ― Alfred Abel

Freder, Joh Fredersen's son ―
Gustav Fröhlich

Rotwang, the inventor
― Rudolf Klein-Rogge

The Thin Man ― Fritz Rasp
Josaphat ― Theodor Loos

11811 ― Erwin Biswanger

Grot, the guardian of the Heart-Machine ―
Heinrich George

The Creative Man
The Machine-Man

The Seven Deadly Sins

Maria ― Brigitte Helm



Shift change.

Deep beneath

the earth lay the

City of the Workers.

As deep beneath the earth
as the City of the Workers lay,

so high above it towered the complex
known as the "Sons' Club",

with its lecture halls and libraries,
its theatres and stadiums.

Fathers, for whom every revolution
of a mechanical wheel meant gold,

had bestowed upon their sons
the wonder of the Eternal Gardens.

Which of you ladies shall today

have the honour of entertaining Master Freder,
Joh Fredersen's son?

Look!These are your brothers!

Look ― !

These are your brothers!

Who ― was that?

But this was what happened to Freder ―

the son of Joh Fredersen,
the master of Metropolis ―

as he sought out the girl:

To the new Tower of Babel ―
to my father ― !

Why is it, Josaphat, that I learn of this explosion
from my son, and not from you ― !

Details ― !

What were you looking for
in the Machine-Halls, Freder?

I wanted to look into the faces of the people
whose little children are my brothers, my sisters...

Your magnificent city, Father ―

and you the brain of this city ―
and all of us within the light of this city... ―

...and where are the people, Father,
whose hands built your city ― ?

Off where they belong... where they belong...? the Depths...?

And if those in the Depths
one day rise against you?

The chief foreman of the Heart-Machine, Grot, ―
with an important message...

There were two more copies
of those damnable plans, Herr Fredersen... the pockets of two men who met
with an accident today at the M-Machine...

How is it, Josaphat, that these plans
were brought to me by Grot, rather than by you?

Apply to the G-Bank
for your remaining wages...

Father, do you know what it means
to be dismissed by you? ―

It means: To be sent below! ―
Father ― below! Into the Depths ― !

Do you know what it means to be dismissed
like that by Joh Fredersen?

Would you like to come with me,

Go home, Josaphat, and wait for me...
I still have a long way to go tonight...

Into the Depths, ―
to my brothers...

From today on I wish to be kept precisely informed
of my son's every move...


...the Machine!There needs
to be someone at the Machine!

There will be someone at the machine...


Listen to me...
I want to trade my life with you...

99th Block. House 7, 7th Floor.

Wait for me ―
both of you...

99th Block. House 7, 7th Floor.

In the middle of Metropolis,

there stands a strange house
that the centuries had overlooked.

The man who dwelled within
was Rotwang, the inventor.


Born to bring me happiness
and a benediction to all mankind.

Lost to Joh Fredersen.
Died giving life to Freder, Joh Fredersen's son.

A mind like yours, Rotwang,
should be able to forget...

Only one time in life did I forget something:
that Hel was a woman ― and you a man...

Let the dead lie, Rotwang...
She's dead for you as she is for me...

For me she isn't dead, Joh Fredersen ―
for me she lives — !

Do you think the loss of a hand
is too high a price for recreating Hel ― ?!

Do you wish to see her ― ?!

Now, Joh Fredersen ― ?!

Isn't it worth losing a hand
to have created the man of the future ―

the Machine-Man — ?!

24 more hours of work ―

and no man, Joh Fredersen, will be able
to differentiate the Machine-Man from a mortal ― !

The woman is mine, Joh Fredersen!
Hel's son was yours!

And what brings you my way,
Joh Fredersen?

I need your advice ―
as usual, when all my experts fail me...

Can you decipher for me these plans

that for months have been getting discovered
in the pockets of my workers? two... once my shift ends!
She has summoned us again...

Father ― ! Father ― !
Will ten hours never come to an end ― ??!!

― it's a blueprint
of the two-thousand-year-old catacombs

deep below the lowest levels
of your Metropolis...

I should like to glean what my workers
are doing exactly in those catacombs...

Today I shall tell you

the legend of THE CONSTRUCTION


Come! Let us build a tower
whose zenith shall reach unto the stars!

And at the tower's zenith we shall write:

Great is the world and its Maker!
And great is Man!

...but those who had conceived
of the Tower of Babel

could not build the Tower of Babel.

The task was too great.
So they paid wages to outside hands...

But the hands that built the Tower of Babel
knew nothing of the dream

of which the head that had conceived it
had been fantasising.

The hymns of praise of one man
became the curses of others.

The same language was spoken,
but these men did not understand one another...

Great is the world and its Maker
and great is Man

HEAD and HANDS require a Mediator.


And where is our Mediator,
Maria ― ?

Wait for him!
He will surely come!

We will wait, Maria...!
But not for much longer ― !

Oh Mediator,
have you finally come...

You summoned me ―
here I am!

Rotwang, give the Machine-Man
the likeness of this woman...

I shall sow discord
between them and her!

I shall destroy their belief
in this woman ―

Leave me alone now, Joh Fredersen...
You'll find the way back without me...

You fool! Now you shall also lose
the last remaining thing you still had from Hel...

your son...

Until tomorrow, in the cathedral!



Freder witnesses a monk at the pulpit
who preaches:

"Verily, I say unto you: the days
of which the Apocalypse speaks draw nigh!"

The monk's hand points to the Bible,
in which it is written:

"And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured
beast, full of names of blasphemy,

having seven heads and ten horns.

And the woman was arrayed
in purple and scarlet colour,

having a golden cup in her hand.

And upon herforehead was a name
written, a mystery:

of Abominations of the Earth.

And I saw the woman drunken
with the blood of the Saints."

You will annihilate Joh Fredersen ―
him and his city and his son ― !








Had you come earlier,
you wouldn't have frightened me...

I now beg of you: stay away from me
and my beloved...!

Where is the one whose clothes
you are wearing?

99th Block. House 7, 7th Floor.

Would you please wake Georgy up?

He must lead me
to the Workers' City at once...

No. 11811, get back to the Machine
and forget that you ever left it ― understood?

I have to have someone
who's faithful to me, Josaphat, ―

otherwise, how shall I attain the end-goal
of my path ― ?!

I must go on, Josaphat, ―
must now, on my own,

seek out the person to whom Georgy
was supposed to lead me...

Tonight, Josaphat ―
tonight when I come back...

99th Block. House 7, 7th Floor.

So, what price are you demanding
for leaving this residence tonight?

You still don't seem to have grasped
who sent me here...


This man doesn't want his son
to find you still here tonight!

In three hours' time
I shall be calling for you!

Come! It is time to give the Man-Machine
your face!

Where is Maria ― ?!

She's with your father...

I'm telling you,
she is with your father ― !

"She is the most perfect and most obedient tool
that a man has ever possessed!

Tonight you shall see how she holds up
before the eyes of the upper hundred.

You shall see her dance, and if only one single
person recognises the machine in her,

I will call myself a bungler
who never succeeded at anything!

C. Rotwang"

"C. A. Rotwang requests Herr Joh Fredersen
to be his guest this evening."

I want you to go to those in the Depths
in order to annihilate the work of your prototype!

"C. A. Rotwang requests Herr Joh Fredersen
to be his guest this evening."

Verily, I say unto you: the days
of which the Apocalypse speaks draw nigh...!

All Seven Deadly Sins,
on her behalf ― !

Death overtakes the City ― !


The Revelation of St. John
Avalun Publishing, Hellerau

I escaped from the Thin Man
wearing this attire...

But for ten days your father's bloodhound
has been making the Workers' City unsafe...

The only thing keeping the workers in check

is their expectation for the Mediator
promised unto them...

Even stranger things
have been happening, Freder...

On that evening when you fell ill...

...once the best of friends...
because of that woman...

...the other man...
on that same evening...

...the Eternal Gardens lie abandoned...
but night after night in Yoshiwara...

And this woman,
at whose feet all sins are heaped... also called Maria...

That same woman that those in the Depths
regard as a saint ― ?!

Many now go to the City of the Dead,

to a woman they have judged
to be as true as gold.

The Mediator is not likely
to miss that occasion...

Whatever happens tonight:

it is my express order to allow the workers
to do as they please...

Joh Fredersen wants to let those in the Depths
use force and do wrong

so that he can claim the right
to use force against them...

When you spoke to your poor brothers,
you talked about peace, Maria...

today a mouthpiece of Joh Fredersen
incites them to rebel against him...

She will destroy their belief
in the Mediator!

You know I've always talked about peace...
but your Mediator hasn't come...

You've waited long enough!
Your time has come ― !

...but I've tricked Joh Fredersen!

Your clone does not obey his will ―
only mine alone!

Who is the living fodder
for the machines for Metropolis ― ?!

Who smears the machine-joints
with their own marrow ― ?!

Who feeds the machines
with their own flesh ― ?!

Let the machines starve, you fools ― !
Finish them off ― !!

Do them in ―
these machines ― !!

You aren't Maria ― !!!


Maria talks of peace, not murder ― !
This is not Maria ― !!

Joh Fredersen's son ― !!

Do him in, the dog,
in his white silken hide ― !!!

Get your women, your sons,
out of the Workers' City!

Let no-one stay behind!
Death to the machines ― !!!

In the attic of his home,

Rotwang displays
for Maria his ever-growing intoxication

with his triumph over Fredersen:

" ― and twice over did I trick Joh Fredersen ― !

For I concealed from him that his son
wants to be the Mediator of your brothers ―

and is in love with you ― !"

Maria isn't the only one listening to Rotwang.

On the other side of the attic's window,
Joh Fredersen was eavesdropping...

Joh Fredersen breaks into Rotwang's attic.
He wrestles with his old rival and overtakes him.

Maria is free.

...faithful after all...

Come, Freder!
We still have to go through the Workers' City.

Women and men,
let no-one miss out on today ― !

Death to the machines ― !!

Not one man ―
not one woman has stayed behind ― !

Leave the machines ― !
Let them race to their death ― !

To the Heart-Machine ― !


Open the gates!

You have to open the gates!

If the Heart-Machine perishes,

nothing in the Machine-District
will be left standing ― !!

Have you lost your minds ― ??

If the Heart-Machine perishes,
the entire Workers' City will be laid to waste ― !!

Where are your fathers,
your mothers?

Do you have any idea that your son
is amongst the workers?!

Yes ― you! You're Maria ― !

To the air shafts ― quickly! Quickly!
The reservoirs have burst!The city is drowning ― !

We'll take the children
to the Sons' Club!

Why are all the lights out?

I need to know ― !
Where is my son?!!!

Tomorrow thousands
will ask in fury and desperation:

Joh Fredersen,
where is my son ― ?!

Where are your children??!

The city is drowned,
the shafts are totally flooded ― !!

Who bade you attack the machines,
without which you're finished, you idiots ― ??!

It's the witch's fault ― !

We'll be looking on
as the world goes to the devil ― !

Find the witch; this is all her fault ― !
Strike her dead ― !!

Now I'm going to take you home,
my Hel ― !

The witch ― !the witch ― !
There she is ― !there she is ― !

Where are our children,
you witch, you ― ??!

Burn the witch. ―
To the stake with her!!!

To the stake with her ― !!

Hel ― ! My Hel ― !!

Your children... saved ― !!!

Head and hands want to join together,
but they don't have the heart to do it...

Oh Mediator,
show them the way to one another...


Restoration: F. W. Murnau Stiftung, Wiesbaden
jointly with Deutsche Kinemathek ―

Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin

in co-operation with Museo del Cine Pablo
C. Ducros Hicken, Buenos Aires

Supported by:

Contributors of material and guidance:

Special Thanks:

Reconstruction and synchronisation

of the original music
by Gottfried Huppertz:

Frank Strobel

Instrumentation of the missing parts
of the score:

Marco Jovic

Musical notation:

Jörg Peltzer

Edition on behalf of ZDF/ARTE:

Europäische Filmphilharmonie ―
Die Film Philharmonie GmbH

Performed by the:
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

an ensemble of the
Rundfunk Orchester und Chöre GmbH

Musical direction:

Frank Strobel

Music production:

Nina Goslar, ZDF/ARTE

Stefan Lang,
Deutschlandradio Kultur

Christian Schwalbe, ZDF