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Film / Metropolis

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"Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they had thousands to build it for them. But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned. And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many."

Silent German Sci-Fi film from 1927, directed by Fritz Lang. Considered one of the forerunners of the genre and one of the most expensive films ever made.

It tells the story of a society divided in two, the workers underground and the wealthy on the exterior, how Freder, the son of the supreme ruler of the city, falls in love with a worker named Maria and the class confrontation between them fueled by Rotwang, a Mad Scientist rival of Freder's father, Fredersen.

Aside from its progressive storytelling, it is also known for being heavily fragmented, the results of both heavy Bowdlerization in its trip to foreign markets, and of poor preservation techniques back in the '30s (plus a little thing called World War II).

Up to 25% of the original footage was considered lost before turning up in a museum in Argentina in 2008, albeit in inferior picture quality. The rediscovered footage was cleaned up as well as possible and integrated into the existing restored footage. The rediscovered version also confirmed the exact running order of shots, which in previous versions could only be guessed at. This new version runs only about five minutes short of the original 1927 German cut, as opposed to nearly an entire hour shorter in some versions. Unfortunately, the scenes of a monk preaching and a fight between Rotwang and Fredersen still remained too badly damaged to restore, and were replaced by title cards. It made its big US debut at the Turner Classic Movies festival in early 2010 and on television on Turner Classic Movies in November 2010. This nearly complete version was released on DVD and Blu-ray in late 2010.


This Troperiffic film is either the Trope Codifier or possible Ur-Example for approximately 76.5% of science fiction tropes. Among many, many other things, it's the first movie to have a robot in it.note 

Not to be confused with the anime film of the same name, which does take elements from this movie as well as a manga by Osamu Tezuka, which was itself Suggested by..., but not adapted from, this movie.

Also notable is the 1984 color-tinted restoration by composer Giorgio Moroder, which was for many years only available on VHS and LaserDisc due to its controversial 80's pop soundtrack. In 2011 Kino International, who own the rights to the movie, were able to clear up the music clearance issues and release the Moroder cut on DVD and Blu-Ray.


Works it has inspired:

  • The titular character Dr. Strangelove, played by Peter Sellers, is described as being inspired from Metropolis' Rotwang, with both having a black-gloved artificial hand and white hair, and being mad scientists with obsessions towards females.
  • The French animated film The King and the Mockingbird takes place in the city-state kingdom of Takicardia; which is inspired by Metropolis. The upperclasses live in skyscrapers, while the poor living in the undercity have never even seen the sun.
  • The anime film and manga, Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis.
  • Blade Runner in particular is considered a Spiritual Successor to this film.
  • An Elseworlds one-shot that combined this Metropolis with Superman's.
  • Singer Janelle Monáe's Metropolis series of Concept Albums.
  • A musical theater adaptation of the film.
  • Kraftwerk's The Man-Machine album, which includes a track titled "Metropolis", a nod to the film.
  • Space's album Give Me Your Future makes several shoutouts to Metropolis throughout the lyrics and artwork. Like Kraftwerk, it also boasts a song a with the same title.
  • A mad scientist named Rotwang appears in Tiger & Bunny - complete with Robot Girl creation.
  • Mechanique, a DC comics robots villainess, IS supposed to be the (time traveling) creation of Rotwang (and is obviously based on Robot!Maria.)
  • The Canadian graphic novel series Mister X is a psychedelic adaptation complete with the Club of Sons.
  • C-3PO is based on Maria's metal form. Also, the transformation sequence itself was elaborated and refined in Frankenstein.
  • The city of Metropolis in the Ratchet & Clank series is heavily inspired by this film.
  • Footage of Metropolis is prominently featured in the extinct Epcot attraction Horizons in a segment looking at depictions of the future in film.
  • The music video for Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" is inspired by and uses actual footage from Metropolis, with Freddie Mercury's face superimposed over the robotic Maria's at one point. Only fitting really, Mercury was involved in composing the 1984 release.
  • The M Machine's Metropolis is a Concept Album (split into two EP's) largely inspired by the film.
  • Madonna's video for "Express Yourself", uses imagery from Metropolis, casting her as both the Moll of a wealthy man in love with a handsome worker, and as a suit-clad business-woman herself. It quotes Metropolis in a title card at the end "Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind".
  • Swedish Post-Metal band Cult of Luna was inspired by the film (as well as German Expressionism) to create their sixth album Vertikal,which has several of the film's themes all over it.
  • Before Tomorrowland, a prequel novel to Disney's Tomorrowland film features a robot-making villain named after Rotwang, though in-universe, Fritz Lang named the character after him, having once been colleagues within the Plus Ultra organization.
  • Metopolis, An Italian Disney Comics adaptation featuring Minnie Mouse as Maria and Mickey as Freder.
  • Spider-Man (1967) used Rotwang as an evil scientist's character design in two episodes, just changing the colors from a black outfit & glove to a white lab-coat and red glove (and green skin).
  • Except for the heads and chests, the recent redesign of Dr. Who's Cybermen borrows heavily from the film's Robot.
  • The original Ralph Mc Quarrie concept art of C-3PO looked nearly identical to a male version of robot-Maria.

Trope Codifier, or Ur-Example for the following sci-fi movie conventions:

Consequently, many find that Metropolis Is Unoriginal: This movie's tropes, characters, visual style, and special effects have been mimicked to the point of exhaustion. Ironically, on its release people criticized the plot for borrowing heavily from Victorian melodramas and other sci-fi stories; H.G. Wells in particular felt he'd been plagiarized. So some of it may be even older than people think.

Shows examples of:

  • Absurdly Cool City: Partially inspired by New York City's Art Deco artstyle, the city of Metropolis has many elevated highways and towering skyscrapers with the imposing Tower of Babel, Metropolis's tallest building, as its central structure.
  • Aerith and Bob: The names of the characters are a mixture of everyday names, phonetic spellings, nonstandard names and surnames:
    • Gyorgy is the Slavic version of George.
    • Fredersen is a Scandinavian or Low German surname.
    • Names like 'Joh', 'Hel' and maybe even Josaphat (an outdated Hebraic name, shorted version of Jehosaphat) are completely out of circulation.
  • An Aesop: "There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator." Specifically, labor and management have to learn to work together.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel) wants to use Robot Maria (Brigitte Helm) to sow dissension in the workers' movement, but the robot, and her maker C. A. Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), have different ideas.
    • While this trope is played completely straight in some versions of the movie, where it's said that Rotwang and Fredersen have lost control of the robot, the original version actually subverts it. The robot is working just as intended. She just happens to take orders from Rotwang, who is an Omnicidal Maniac. It still counts as this trope from Joh Fredersen's perspective, since it's implied that the robot's mechanical nature is the cause of her Lack of Empathy and her Undying Loyalty towards her creator. A human henchwoman might not have been quite as willing to carry out his plan.
  • Alternative Calendar: The workers' day has 20 hours (and their work takes ten), the rich people's the usual 24.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Freder (Gustav Fröhlich). It could be the fact that he seems to have the strangest affinity for hugging and caressing every human being he comes across, gender be damned.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Josaphat (Theodor Loos), who returns Freder's affection to him and, unlike Freder, never shows any interest in women.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: Robot Maria.
  • Argentina Is Nazi Land, on a meta level: This is where the last known copy of the uncut film was discovered; it's a German movie that was popular with Hitler; you do the math.
  • Artificial Limbs: Rotwang's right hand, which he somehow lost in the process of making Maria. According to the book, he lost it in a laboratory accident.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Grot (Heinrich George) finally manages to get the workers to realize they've made a terrible mistake in destroying the machines and flooding the worker city by asking them where their children are. As they've left their kids in the worker's city, the workers don't take this well, though thankfully Freder and the real Maria are able to rescue all of the children before they drown.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Maria reinterprets the story of the Tower of Babel as a failure of labor relations. A preacher also quotes Revelation Chapter 16 in a missing scene, which is later reprised in flashback during Freder's fever dream.
  • Background Halo: Maria gets this quite a bit, especially as she is preaching to the workers in the catacombs.
  • Beneath the Earth: The workers' city. And deeply so.
  • Big Blackout: The entire city of Metropolis experiences a blackout after the workers destroy the Heart Machine, which subsequently causes the other machinery to malfunction and collapse.
  • Big Electric Switch: Rotwang's lab has several of them.
  • The Big Guy: Grot aka the Guardian of the Heart Machine, and The Thin Man (Der Schmale, Fritz Rasp), the main enforcer of Fredersen's schemes.
  • Big Word Shout: "MOLOCH!"
    • "BABEL!" "BABEL!" "BABEL!"
  • Bizarrchitecture: Rotwang's house. With doors that open and close on their own, it's also a Mobile Maze - and noticeably Bigger on the Inside, as several reviewers pointed out.
  • Brain Fever: Freder appears to fall victim to this after seeing Robot Maria embrace his father.
  • Burn the Witch!: "Burn the witch!" On a pyre made of I-beams and burning automobiles. Too bad she's a robot.
  • Cathedral Climax: Freder and Rotwang fight atop a cathedral.
  • Character Tics: Robot-Maria's jerking her shoulders, whiplashing her neck and squinting her left eye a bit. Rotwang has a habit of raising his left eyebrow whilst thinking, Freder grabs hold of anybody who happens to be nearby when he rants, and Joh grabs his hair with his hands on the rare occasions that he gets scared.
  • Clothing Damage: Textbook male example, nearly four decades before Kirk.
  • Collapsing Lair: The Workers' city gets destroyed by a flood after the workers destroy the Heart Machine.
  • The Constant: Rotwang's house is beyond ancient, and sticks out like a sore thumb wedged in among the skyscrapers. It also has a secret door leading to The Catacombs.
    • The very gothic cathedral, which also seems to be centuries older than the other houses in the city, counts as well.
  • Cool Car: The Rumpler Tropfen-Auto. Probably a greater percentage of the total production run of them were destroyed for Metropolis than Dodge Chargers were for The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: With the Paternoster Machine turned into a metaphorical clock that is going backwards, all the while threatening to overload and explode.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The upper class' city.
  • Cyberpunk: A technologically advanced civilization, manned by proles that slave away in the depths of the earth.
  • Damsel in Distress: Maria, captured and imprisoned by Rotwang.
  • Death by Childbirth: Freder's mother died giving birth to him, which is another reason Rotwang eventually decides on revenge against the Fredersens.
  • Deathly Dies Irae: The score for this Silent Movie included a daunting rendition of Dies Irae to accompany the master of Metropolis's order to have his son followed and reported on.
  • Designated Victim: Maria. She goes from being a worker trapped in an underground city, to being attacked and kidnapped by Rotwang, to being trapped in the (now flooding) underground city again, to being chased by an angry mob, to finally being attacked by Rotwang yet again. Poor girl can't catch a break.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The workers don't bring their children along during their uprising and after they destroy the Heart Machine, the worker city floods. Cue Grott finally managing to get their attention and asking them...where are your children? If it weren't for Freder and the real Maria, none of the kids would have survived the flooding.
  • Disneyfication: Fritz Lang admitted after making the movie that saying "The mediator between the head and hands must be the heart!" is too simplistic of a way to deal with labor-management relations. The musical took this statement and ran with it, choosing to go with a complete Downer Ending where the mutual hate between both classes combines to doom the entire city but a small handful of survivors, mostly Maria's students.
  • Die Laughing: A rather dark example. The False Maria starts laughing maniacally when she is taken to be burned alive and doesn't stop until she is killed by the fire.
  • Disney Villain Death: Rotwang goes plunging off a cathedral roof.
  • Ditzy Genius: Maria again. She is an amazing orator with the political will and ambition to push for equality among the upper and lower classes... and when sufficiently frightened she has a tendency to run with arms flailing away from safety, bouncing into walls along the way.
  • Easily Overheard Conversation: Rotwang boasts to the imprisoned Maria about how he's taken revenge on Joh Fredersen by sabotaging his plans. Fredersen, standing outside Rotwang's house, hears everything. Cue fight scene, and Maria's chance to escape.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Rich, hedonistic millionaires against poor, dirty underground workers. It's basically this trope. Even if both classes are human this time. The novel outright says that the worker's children has dwarf-like faces.
  • Eternal Engine: The entire underground is some sort of Steam and Flame Factory.
  • Evil Knockoff: Evil Robot Maria is a copy of Maria the angelic social worker.
  • Evil Plan: Initially shown to be Joh Fredersen, though it turns out that Rotwang was the real Chessmaster behind the near-destruction of Metropolis.
    • In the book however, the plan was Fredersen's. Though it was arguably less evil, as his goal was to improve his city, not simply getting revenge.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Apparently, if the machines(especially the heart machine) are left unwatched for just a few minutes, they blow themselves up with lots of sparks and arc lightning thrown out. The workers don't really have to do anything to successfully turn out all the power in the city.
  • Explosive Overclocking: The Heart Machine after the robot Maria and the workers overload it.
  • Eye Tropes: In Yoshiwara, during Robot Maria's dance, there's a montage of eyes watching her.
  • Fanservice: Sure, the scene of robotic Maria dancing provocatively while topless except for large pasties shows just how different she is from the real girl; but it is also definitely fanservice, and there is even a flashback to it later it the film for no real reason.
  • Femme Fatale: The Machine Man.
  • The Film of the Book: Von Harbou's novel was written in coordination with the film.
  • Flying Car: Possibly, as far as its usual sci-fi portrayal goes; the planes dashing between buildings may not look like cars, but seem to fill the same role, and similar shots remain popular today.
  • Futuristic Superhighway: Establishing shots of the city show some eleven lanes of traffic on the ground (separated by a train track) criss-crossed by some absurdly high elevated roadways and railways.
  • German Expressionism: One of the most famous examples.
  • Gloved Fist of Doom: Rotwang wears a black glove over his artificial hand.
  • Gonk: In a film where everyone looks uniform, Rotwang — the Mad Scientist with fuzzy hair, bulging eyes, and a hunchback figure — really stands out.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The apparently European city contains a nightclub called the Yoshiwara.
  • The Grim Reaper: He has a statue along with the 7 deadly sins in the cathedral. When Freder falls sick, he has a dream of it coming alive, and advancing on him with its scythe.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Georgy steps in front of a knife meant for Freder.
  • Hide Your Children: Played with. Children appear early in the movie when Maria shows them the Eternal Gardens, but they seemingly disappear afterwards, not even appearing during the revolution which supposedly includes everyone in the workers' city. Turns out that the workers DID forget about them and that they are now trapped in the rapidly flooding city with no way of getting out. It's up to the heroes of the film to rescue them.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty:
    • Every scene between Rotwang and Maria. Especially the one before the transformation sequence. It doesn't help that the next time we see them, Maria is naked, unconscious and strapped to a table.
    • The scene where he chases Maria up to the top of the cathedral is arguably even worse. It may have looked bad before, but you could easily argue that it was not what it looked like. Here, he actually seems to be trying to rape her.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Most participants get a chance to do really stupid things to further the plot, however, Joh Fredersen is worst. He is supposedly some sort of genius who created and runs Metropolis but he consistently makes idiotic decisions. Fredersen fires his right-hand man sending him into the workers' hellish abode. Needless to say, if a man knows a lot about you, it is a very bad idea to make him your enemy, let him live and send him to a place where you suspect a revolution is brewing. Then he trusts in Rotwang's loyalty and sanity despite the fact that evidence for doing the opposite is staring him in the face. Fredersen came alone to Rotwang. If Rotwang wanted revenge he could have just killed him then and there. Fortunately for Fredersen Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? doesn't seem to occur to Rotwang. Fredersen deliberately provokes a rebellion and lets the workers run amok among absolutely vital machinery for the purpose of having an excuse to strike them down, but doesn't seem to have a clue how to do the latter.
    • The workers do many stupid things in the third act. They completely fail to realise that their leader is clearly Not Herself (made worse by the fact that Freder - who, at this point, has met her a total number of twice - realises it almost immediately), they forget about their children and leave them behind in their city (even though they were specifically instructed to bring their sons along), and they destroy huge machines without thinking about the consequences (which even Grot calls them out on). This can, however, be somewhat justified by Robot-Maria being The Corruptor, and intending to cause havoc through the workers ("Let's watch the world go to the Devil!").
  • Idle Rich: Most of the upperclass seem to be this. Freder starts out this way, but he gets better rather quickly.
  • Industrial Ghetto: The workers live in an underground city. During their work shift, they move to an upper underground level to operate the machinery and generate power for Metropolis.
  • Industrialized Evil: The workers lead a cruel, bleak existence amongst the machines.
  • Interrupted Suicide: After he's fired, Josaphat staggers out of Fredersen's office, pulls a gun out of his pocket, and lifts it to his head. Freder gets to him just in time.
  • Jerkass Realization: See Shaming the Mob below.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Rotwang's robot is a prototype of a race of robots intended to eventually replace the human workers. This doesn't actually come to pass though. Instead, she replaces Maria more directly...
  • Laser-Guided Karma
    Fredersen: I must know! Where is my son?!
    Thin Man: Tomorrow, thousands will ask in fury and desperation: "Joh Fredersen, where is my son?"
  • Leitmotif: Pretty much each character and event. Gottfried Huppertz's original score, as reconstructed and recorded in 2003 (and again in 2009), features these significantly. Freder, his father, Rotwang, Maria, Robot Maria, the machines of Metropolis, the nightclub-goers in Yoshiwara, and the uprising workers all have their own recurring themes.
  • Loudness War: Moroder's version, which served as the test run for the HPS-4000 cinema sound system, comparable to IMAX in terms of its acoustic power. The songs heard in the film are mixed far louder and with more dynamic range than they are on the soundtrack album.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: The Club of the Sons members start killing themselves and each other over the Maria Machine.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Rotwang wants to destroy the city because Freder's mother chose the city's ruler over him. And then died giving birth to said ruler's son.
  • Ludd Was Right: A human rebellion stopped when the workers realize they are dependent on the machines for their lives.
  • Mad Scientist: Rotwang. Again, one of the first, and the best.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Rotwang's house.
  • Madonna–Whore Complex: The film contains one of the most explicit and extreme examples in fiction. The real Maria is passive, saintly, and demure, whilst Robot-Maria is an evil, hyperactive seductress. The former is (obviously) named after the original Madonna, the Virgin Mary, whilst the latter is repeatedly compared to the Whore of Babylon from the Book of Revelations. Less overtly, compare Maria's modest dress and job caring for children with the more revealing outfits of the upper-class women who flirt with Freder.
  • Magic from Technology: Robot Maria's transformation. Of course, Rotwang's whole theme has all the trappings of a wizard as well as a scientist...
  • Magic Versus Science: This is Rotwang's whole theme. Inside a giant future Mega City is a little thatched cottage inside of which is a pentagrammed Mad Scientist Laboratory inside of which is a man dressed in robes with a robot hand. Robot Maria's transformation makes him practically a necromancer. In fact the whole film is both a pioneer of sci-fi and very heavy on biblical imagery.
  • Male Gaze: Dramatically demonstrated with the montage of eyes watching Robot Maria during her striptease.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Der Schmale", meaning "the thin one."
    • Rotwang, meaning "red cheek" in German.
  • Mega City: Metropolis seems to be pretty big.
  • Mickey Mousing: Frequently in the original soundtrack. Unlike most examples, it's Played for Drama rather than comedy. Since the music is the only sound the movie has, it sometimes doubles as sound effects.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Rotwang only loves one thing more than Hel, and that is wild gesticulation. Robot-Maria shares his liking for it, too.
  • Monologuing: Rotwang loves this.
  • Mobile Maze: Rotwang's house. The doors can be completely sealed on a whim, which he uses against Freder and Maria at different points.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates 2, due to a few acts of fatal violence, although it's all bloodless (except for a couple of minor nicks and scratches).
  • Morality Chain: In the novel, Hel for both Joh Frederson and Rotwang. She not only kept both men from killing each other (though you could hardly blame them, what with their love triangle and all), she also made sure both men didn't let power go to their heads.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Rotwang is a bad guy.
  • The Morlocks: H.G. Wells got one up on Metropolis with this plotline, but Fritz Lang is more sympathetic.
  • Necromantic
    Joh: Let the dead rest in peace, Rotwang. She's as dead for me as she is for you.
    Rotwang: She isn't dead for me, Joh Fredersen! For me, she lives! [gesticulates wildly]
  • Nightmarish Factory: The machine city is a bad place.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Machine Man is actually a Fembot.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: The plumbing and electrical systems are tragically intertwined.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Something of a plot point: The "M-Machine" that Freder stumbles upon during his trek through the underground city overheats and explodes, injuring or killing everyone stationed at it. The dead and wounded are casually hauled off and a new set comes in to take their place. Witnessing this scene is what makes Freder sympathetic to the workers' plight. Case of Truth in Television and Justified Trope: Safety-oriented machine design, safe operation rules and reimbursements for incidents are relatively modern concepts. Work conditions depicted in the movie were not so different from the work in early 20th-century factories.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Rotwang wants to kill the Fredersens and destroy the city
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Joh's spy is called "The Thin Man" or "Slim" in English, and "der Schmale" (the thin one) in the original German titles.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: When the robotic Maria pushes the workers to riot.
    Freder: Maria talks of peace, not murder! This is not Maria!
  • Overclocking Attack: To destroy the Heart machine. Grot tries to stave off Robot-Maria with a big wrench.
  • Prayer Pose: In the first sequence in the underground cathedral, Frieder is kneeling with clasped hands and backlighting to create a halo effect.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Robot-Maria.
  • Raygun Gothic: The future will be Art Deco.
  • Red Right Hand: Rotwang. As he says: "Isn't it worth the loss of a hand to have created the workers of the future?"
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: In some versions of the edit, Rotwang really just wants his lover back.
    • Subverted in the 2010 version, where it's clear that he doesn't mind his robot being used for unethical means. He just doesn't want Joh Fredersen to take her away from him.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Rotwang originally wanted the robot to replace Hel, before Joh ordered him to make it into a duplicate of Maria. Of course, Rotwang seemed to think that she actually was Hel.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Well, the workers don't really want to kill their masters, just blow up the machines. But they don't think it through very well...
  • Ridiculously Human Robot / Robot Girl / Robot Me: Futura/Robotrix/Fake Hel/Fake Maria/Machine Man/etc.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Freder and Rotwang have one on the cathedral.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Being an expressionist silent film, this gets very overt and heavy-handed at times.
    • Crosses surround the heroes, and pentagrams surround the villains.
    • Metropolis is likened to Babel throughout the film.
    • Characters even hallucinate allegorical scenes out of the Old Testament.
    • The underclass are living underground, literally below the upperclass, who live in skyskrapers.
    • The sheer size of the Hel statue - which dwarfs both Rotwang and Fredersen - is obivously meant to show Rotwang's devotion to her, but ut also shows the power she still holds over both men, even in death.
  • Say My Name: A rare silent example occurs after Maria's kidnapping, where Freder runs through the city "shouting" Maria's name via intertitle cards.
  • Schizo Tech: Owing mainly to Zeerust. Notable in the use of ticker-tape machines and 1920's era automobiles everywhere. Specifically, consultation of the ticker tape causes Fredersen to immediately contact the Foreman on a flatscreen video phone/surveillance monitor.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Exaggerated and justified. The Real Maria works as a priestess, the False Maria works as a stripper.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Fake Maria is seen as the epitome of this. Statues of the seven deadly sins are shown and even animated during a dream sequence, while she sits on top of a statue of a seven-headed dragon.
  • Shaming the Mob: Foreman Grot finally manages to calm down the rioting workers and make them realize what they'd done in flooding their own city by saying "Where are your children?!"
  • Shout-Out: Oscar Wilde's quote "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it" on a Yoshiwara flyer.
  • A Sinister Clue: Rotwang's left hand.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Giorgio Moroder's version is a love it or hate it, cult adaptation. Featuring Jon Anderson (of Yes), Pat Benatar, Adam Ant, "Destruction" by Loverboy, Bonnie Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Cycle V and Moroder himself. Yes. Hard to find.note 
  • Spot the Imposter: Happens at one point in the novel, where both the real and false Maria call out to Freder. Though this is before the robot's transformation, so Freder only hears the Marias and doesn't actually see them.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Director Fritz Lang later claimed he intended this film to be anti-Nazi propaganda (the party was still rising to power during the time this film was released). Ironically, the Nazi Party loved the film, causing Lang to despise his own work. Lang's wife Thea von Harbou, who co-wrote the Metropolis script and had written the original novel, joined the Nazi Party in the early 1930s. The couple divorced not long after that. While Lang emigrated to America soon after the Nazi takeover, von Harbou remained in Germany and made movies for the Nazis until the end of World War II also brought an end to her career.
  • Standard Snippet: The "Dies Irae" theme figures heavily in the original soundtrack by Gottfried Huppertz, as does a tweaked version of the Marseillaise, which plays during the workers' revolution.
  • Team Mom: Maria is this for all the children in the workers' city, and arguably for the adults too.
  • Technicolor Science: In a black and white film no less. Rotwang's lab when he is transforming his mechanical girl has milky white liquids, transparent liquids, and dark colored liquids all boiling and bubbling away in strangely shaped glass containers.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Josaphat's BSOD after being fired by Fredersen. He's so shocked and unable to focus that he can't find the doorknob on his way out.
  • Thunderbolts and Lightning: The destruction of the machines.
  • Title Drop:
    • Rotwang talking to Joh Fredersen calls the city "your metropolis".
    • In a restored scene, the Thin Man can be seen reading a copy of the Metropolis Courier, he also carries checks of the Metropolis Central Bank.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Or rather wrenches and lanterns. For the workers and upper classes respectively (although the latter did not initially intend anything destructive. But once they collide with the workers...).
  • The Tower: "Gigantic, unimaginably huge, looms-over-everything" variety.
  • Tower of Babel: Referenced, with significant alterations. Maria's retelling alters the facts and changes the moral. The hubris is inverted ("And on the pedestal these words appear: 'Great is the world and its Maker, and great is Man!'") and retribution comes from paying too much attention to the idea and ignoring the workers. There is no confusion of tongues, but another clever inversion ("The praises of one became the curses of another. Although they spoke the same language, they could not understand one another's words"). The New Tower of Babel at the heart of the city is absolutely untouched by the destruction, and the divided classes are reunited.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The backstory of Rotwang, Hel, and Joh. It didn't end well.
    Joh: Surely a mind like yours must be able to forget...
    Rotwang: (shaking a fist in Fredersen's face) I only ever forgot one thing in my life: that Hel was a woman and you a man!
  • Underground City: The Workers' city is located in the depths below the actual city of Metropolis.
  • Urban Segregation: Again, almost a Trope Codifier, with the rich living in gardens and clubs high above the city, and the workers living in a poorly built underground city.
  • Video Phone: How Fredersen communicates with Grot.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Rotwang, after Joh Fredersen ambushes and beats the crap out of him.
  • We Will Use Manual Labour in the Future: In an audio commentary it is suggested that this is intentionally done by the city's leaders, so they have better control over the lower classes. In reality, machines are supposed to make life easier and be able to function without humans.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Georgy (11811), the worker Freder takes the place of at the dial machine. His story was expanded on in the footage that was later cut. He is supposed to have Freder's chauffeur drive him to Josaphat's apartment, but after finding a lot of money in the pockets of his borrowed clothes, he spends the night at Yoshiwara instead. The next morning, the Thin Man catches Georgy and sends him back to his station; later, when the workers start rioting, Georgy protects Freder and is stabbed to death.
    • Much of the lost footage also pertains to the Thin Man, who follows Freder, Georgy, and Josaphat at Joh Fredersen's behest.
    • Most of this footage was found in Argentina in 2008 and restored then spliced into the then current version. There are still two scenes missing but the new version with the extra found footage is considered to be as complete as it'll ever be to the 1927 premier.
  • While Rome Burns: The happy crowd from the Yoshiwara club while the city is being blacked out by the workers' revolution.
  • Witch Hunt: Literally.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The Machine Man is the only character who appears on many of the movie's posters. She has a pretty important role in the story - and an iconic look - but she isn't the main character. It might make some sense on a symbolic level. She is implied to be the Whore of Babylon, who is said to represent a city, and the robot could be seen as a personification of the city of Metropolis.
  • World of Ham: The actors, the extras, the soundtrack, the set design, the special effects and even the title cards all ham it up. Counts as Tropes Are Not Bad for many viewers, as this is precisely what makes the movie epic.
  • Yes-Man: Josaphat. Until he fails Fredersen for the last time.
  • You Are Number 6: Georgy 11811.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Yeah, you read that right. In 1927. The realism of Robot Maria's appearance is field-tested by taking her to Yoshiwara and having her do a striptease for the patrons. She's a big hit.
  • Zeerust: Doubly so for the '80s New Wave soundtrack version.


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