The False Maria's striptease. Is it genuinely erotic, too ridiculous to be taken seriously, a prime example of Nightmare Fuel, or a combination of all of the above?
Thea von Harbou's novel. Is it a good piece of supplementary material with better characterisation and more World Building than the film allowed for, with some interesting symbolism as well? Or is it just pretentious, overwritten trash which only became a watchable film thanks to Fritz Lang's directing skills and the lack of Narmy dialogue?
Rotwang's robot who only gets a couple minutes of screentimehas become the film's unofficial symbol in pop culture. It's the only character shown on the film's most famous poster. Osamu Tezuka's version was inspired by nothing other than that famous image. Of course, technically, the Maria Machine actually has a ton of screentime, just not in that form.
Rule of Symbolism, for the most part. You have crucifixion imagery, giant clock face, personified Whore of Babylon, retelling of the Tower of Babel story, animated gargoyles personifying Death and the Seven Deadly Sins, a hidden church in catacombs, an inverted pentagram, talk about "brothers and sisters", the machine as Moloch...
Fetish Retardant: Several viewers have felt that the scene where the False Maria dances around while wearing practically nothing is a lot less sexy than it should be due to Brigitte Helm's rather stiff and mechanical dance moves. They either turn the scene into Narm, or make it terrifying by plunging it deep down into Uncanny Valley territory. Though considering that she is an evil robot, the latter reaction might very well be exactly what Lang was going for.
Channing Pollock apparently thought the very concept of a Robotic Spouse was this, leading to him removing every mention of what The False Maria was built for. Unfortunately, this wasn't only a case of Adaptation Explanation Extrication, it also - along with the removal of the character Hel - led to both Rotwang and Joh Fredersen becoming less three-dimensional than they were originally.
Ho Yay: Freder is a very physical person. Especially with Josaphat and 11811. On the other hand, it's very firmly established that he loves Maria...
Jerkass Woobie: Joh Fredersen. On one hand, he is the creator and ruler of an oppressive dystopia and the initiator of a kidnapping and a False Flag Operation. However, it is also shown that he truly cares about his son and still mourns his dead wife. Alfred Abel's performance makes him come off as sympathetic and rather tragic as well as cold and ruthless. It's hard not to feel bad for him in the end, when he realises that Freder's life is in danger and has a complete breakdown.
Macekre: If you compare the 1928 American release to the original film — editing by chainsaw, and Channing Pollock boasting about having rewritten the whole thing.
Memetic Mutation: VIP Teacher. Explanation In 2005, a scene from the movie was used in a video called VIP先生. It spread to 2channel and niconico, and the rest is history.
Misaimed Fandom: Partly. Adolf Hitler said Metropolis was one of his favorite films. The writer, Thea von Harbou, was a dedicated Nazi. The director, her husband Fritz Lang, divorced her and moved to Hollywood soon after the Nazi rise to power. To a normal person the movie certainly doesn't have anything supporting the Nazi ideology, unless you take extreme liberties at interpreting the Aesop. It's directed against all forms of tyranny, from ruthless capitalism to mob rule. However, in fascist and Nazi wishful thinking fascism and later Nazism had bridged the gap between worker and capitalist renouncing exploitation and decadence on one hand and mob rule and blind lust for destruction on the other. In their eyes this film is a tribute to or a prophecy of that great achievement.
The film probably still falls under this trope, as it portrays both war and segregation as bad...
Nightmare Fuel: Evil!Maria is a sterling example of this. Her movements, her expressions, everything about her scream so horribly that this is something that looks human but isn't.
Her death scene is especially creepy. She laughs maniacally for several minutes as she is burned alive, all the while twisting around in a non-human, demonic fashion.
One of the few additional special effects from the Moroder version which truly improved the movie was giving the False Maria Glowing Mechanical Eyes when she opens them for the first time. It really helps to make the scene creepier.
The Moloch Machine sequence and the bit before, as the worker desperately tries to stop the machine going off, seeing the level rising. Then Freder seeing the machine turn into a shrine to Moloch, who consumes a horde of slaves and a procession of black-robed workers. It doesn't help that the Moloch scene has some unintentional Holocaust imagery, with workers being killed by gas and then led into what looks like an enormous oven... And perhaps the most unsettling part is that while the slaves have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the mouth of Moloch, the workers willingly walk into his jaws.
One-Scene Wonder: Moloch only appears once in a single vision in the movie, but man is it a memorable one.
Only the Creator Does It Right: The 2010 version, which is closest to Lang's original cut of the film, is generally considered to be the best version. The only real competitor is the Moroder version, which was made by people who were very famous and talented in their own right, and even that version is a case of divisiveness. However, this trope might be subverted in that the original novel the film was based on is also divisive, as many feel that the movie is actually better than the book.
The scene where Freder takes a taxi to his father's office might count too. It's the first time the viewer gets a good look at the rich people's city, and it looks glorious, with lots of Scenery Porn.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In hindsight, this is how many people view Channing Pollock's cut of the film. As each later version brings the film closer to its' original state, it becomes a case of "they changed it back, now it doesn't suck anymore."
Uncanny Valley: An invoked example will the robot Maria, who despite looking human moves in a twitchy, insect like way and has odd facial expressions, to convey how different she is from a person.
Vindicated by History: When it was first released it was a huge flop that nearly bankrupted Ufa, the studio that produced it. It was also trashed critically by Lang's former admirers and friends, who considered it the weakest of his silent epics, dismissed by H.G. Wells himself as "quite the silliest film". Now, it's considered the forerunner to all science fiction films ever, including but not limited to Star Wars, Blade Runner, The Terminator and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
When Pero tries to speak to Atlas about the violent nature of humans. Is he speaking out of a genuine desire to avoid bloodshed, or is he simply obeying his programming and doing what he can to ensure that the ruling class continue their decadence at the expense of Atlas and his people.
Instead of having the robots rise up from their mistreatment, Tima is only simulating that motive. Rather than having the robots break free of slavery she herself is enslaving them to do her bidding and when she sets the various structures to overload she is uncaring of the robots being killed by the surges.
Awesome Music: Toshiyuki Honda's jazzy and orchestral score works beautifully in the Dieselpunk environment of the film.
Faux Symbolism: There's a nice bit where Tima is standing on the roof in a beam of sunlight, presumably recharging. A bird lands on her shoulder. They cut to another viewpoint, and she looks exactly like an angel.
Rock shooting Shunsaku after he tells him he's better than that. Though him previously blowing off Fifi's head may count due to how sympathetic that character was.
Atlas shooting Piro dead takes away any sympathy and claim to the moral high ground that he had.
Narm: Thanks to one of the most egregious examples of Soundtrack Dissonance in anime history, when Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You" suddenly starts up during the climax, playing over scenes of Ziggurat's destruction and a psychotic Tima stalking Kenichi through the crumbling megastructure, some audiences just cracked up laughing at what was supposed to be the dramatic high point of the film. On the other hand... it worksbecause of that said reason.
Accidental Aesop: The story seems to have a Green Aesop, as it takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where the environment has been destroyed, but, much like WALLE, it's likely that the setting was only created to allow the plot to happen.
Adaptational Context Change: Sort of. The play keeps the line "Let's watch the world go to the devil" from the film, but it now has the workers thinking that Futura herself is the devil (as opposed to "just" a witch). This means that, as far as they are concerned, the meaning of the line changes from "Let's watch the world burn" to "Watch as I conquer the world."
Audience-Alienating Premise: A science-fiction musical based on a German expressionist silent film. This may be why it wasn't much of a hit.
Awesome Music: The soundtrack is actually really good. Even the unintentionally funny songs are rather catchy.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Judy Kuhn who, much like Brigitte Helm before her, plays both Maria and her evil impersonator and nails both of them.
Harsher in Hindsight: John Freeman, the creator of Metropolis, committing suicide and taking his city with him becomes this when - in an especially tragic case of Life Imitates Art - Joe Brooks, the main creator of this play, commited suicide in 2011 and essentially took Metropolis with him by forbidding others to perform the musical after his death.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Steven and Maria are both given more character development and portrayed as less over the top than they were in the 1927 silent film.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Maria's part in the song It's Only Love. Bring On The Night has the rather refreshing message "You don't need love to be happy." Of course, it becomes a bit of a Broken Aesop later when she falls in love anyway, but still.
What The Hell, Casting Agency?: Some fans of the Fritz Lang movie are rather baffled that this version of Joh Fredersen - originally portrayed by The Stoic, clean-shaven, skinny Alfred Abel - is now played by the scenery-chewing, bearded, heavyset BRIAN BLESSED. This is made even weirder by the fact that BRIAN BLESSED both looks and acts much like the movie version of Grot, and would probably have been better suited for that character.