“Head and hands need a mediator. The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!” – “Metropolis”

If you haven’t seen the version of “Metropolis” (1927) that was recovered in 2008 and restored in 2010, I would recommend going and seeing that before reading. However, if you need convincing to go see a 2.5 hour silent film, then I hope this article can serve to do that.

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“Metropolis” is a silent film by Fritz Lang from 1927, written by Thea von Harbou. It’s set in a futuristic mega city that is governed by a stark class system. The paradise of the world above is enjoyed by the upperclassmen; the hellish, industrial factories below (that keep the city running) is run by the poor who struggle through back-breaking work every day.

From the working class, a prophet predicts the coming of a “mediator” — one who will bring the head (the upper-class people who invent, design and enjoy their creations) and the hands (those who actually make it happen) together.

The story involves a robot taking the likeness of a woman, a mad scientist with personal stakes, riots and uprisings, and some stunning cinematography that still holds up today.

Eventually, the working class is convinced to depart from the peaceful methods of a mediator, and they decide to conduct a violent uprising. They leave their posts manning machines and seek to overthrow the oppressors forcefully. However, the machines that they do not entirely understand are holding floodwaters at bay, and when they leave the depths to kick out the high level businessmen, they leave their children behind (a riot is no place for children). The floods come, and because of their lust for blood, their children could be killed.