Metropolis (film)

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For works with similar titles, see Metropolis.
Metropolis  (1927) 
by Fritz Lang
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang. This is a transcription of the US English-translated release of the film, which had a length of around two hours of video. This version's intertitles fell into the public domain into the United States in 2023. It is unclear if it is the 1927 US version or a version released later, but it was certainly released on a film reel so before 1978.
Why this version needed to be transcribed instead of any of several higher quality English versions available online
There are a few more recent English versions (2008-2010, and 2022 respectively) that are making the rounds on the Internet, that are in higher quality and have a more pleasant viewing experience than this version overall. While the recorded (video) portions of any encode of the film are unambiguously in the public domain, the intertitles in those versions are not in the public domain, because in the US, translations garner a separate copyright from the original material they're translating from. Since those were translated in the 21st century, and aren't exact matches of any US or UK releases from 1927, etc., they cannot be transcribed from. So, effectively, in the United States, this version of Metropolis hosted on Wikisource is one of the only (if not the only) fully public-domain English-language versions of the film.
Key (info)
In scene
Video Camera Icon.svg The following is a transcription of a film. The contents below represent text or spoken dialogue that are transcribed directly from the video of the film provided above. On certain screen sizes, each line is represented by a timestamp next to it which shows when the text appears on the video. For more information, see Help:Film.

This film is not of today or of the future.
It tells of no place.
It serves no tendency, party or class.
It has a moral that grows on the pillar of understanding:
'The mediator between brain and muscle must be the heart.'

Thea Von Harbou


Photographed by

Directed by
Fritz Lang

Brigitte Helm

Gustav Frohlich

Alfred Abel

Rudolph Klein-Rogge

Theodor Loos

Fritz Rasp

a UFA film
made in 1925

Far away from them.
High in the heavens.
The sun. Life......[1]


The day shift.

The workers' city, far below the surface of the earth.

And high above, a pleasure garden for the sons of the masters of Metropolis.


"Look, these are your brothers."

"Who was that?"

"Just the daughter of a worker."

The great machines, far underground, yet high above the workers' city.


"To my father."

John Fredersen, the Master of Metropolis.


"Such accidents are unavoidable."

"Why was my son allowed to go into the machine-rooms?"

"Why did you go down there?"

"I wanted to see what my brothers looked like."

"It was their hands that built this city of ours, father."

"But where do the hands belong in your scheme?"

"In their proper place—the depths."

"What will you do if they turn against you some day?"

"The foreman from the central dynamo room is here with an urgent message."

"More of those plans, sir."

"They were found on two of the men who were killed today."

"Joseph, why was it not you who brought me these plans?"

"You are dismissed. Go to the G-Bank for the balance of your wages."

"Father, don't you realize what it means to be dismissed by you?"

"Joseph, I need your help."

"The machine! Someone must stay with the machine."

"I will stay at the machine."

In the middle of the city was an old house.

Here lived Rotwang, the inventor.

"John Fredersen!"

"At last my work is ready."

"I have created a machine in the image of a man, that never tires or makes a mistake."

"Now we have no further use for living workers."

"Isn't it worth the loss of a hand to have created the workers of the future——the machine men?"

"Give me another 24 hours, and I'll bring you a machine which no one will be able to tell from a human being."

"As always, when my experts fail I come to you for advice."

"For months now, we have been finding these plans in the workers' clothing. What do they mean?"

"At two—at the end of this shift. She has called another meeting."

"Father, father—I did not know that ten hours can be torture."

"These are the plans of the ancient catacombs—far below the lowest levels of the workers' city."

"What is down there that interests the workers?"

"Today I will tell you the story of the Tower of Babel."

"Let us build a tower whose summit will touch the skies—"

"—and on it we will inscribe: 'Great is the world and its Creator. And great is Man.'"

"Those who had conceived the idea of this tower could not build it themselves, so they hired thousands of others to build for them."

"But these toilers knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned the tower."

"While those who had conceived the tower did not concern themselves with the workers who built it."

"The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many."



"Between the brain that plans and the hands that build there must be a mediator."

"It is the heart that must bring about an understanding between them."

"But where is our mediator, Maria?"

"Be patient, he will surely come."

"We will wait, but not for long."

"Rotwang, make your Robot in the likeness of that girl."

"Hide the girl in your house, I will send the Robot down to the workers, to sow discord among them and destroy their confidence in Maria."

"Leave me here, John Fredersen."

"Until tomorrow—in the cathedral."

The Seven Deadly Sins.

Maria was a prisoner in Rotwang's house.

"Come, I am going to make the Robot look like you."


"Where is Maria?"

"She is with your father."

"The copy is perfect. Now go down to the workers and undo Maria's teaching; stir them up to criminal acts."


C. A. Rotwang

Herrn Joh Fredersen

heute Abend sein Gast zu sein.

"Now we shall see whether people believe the Robot is a creature of flesh and blood."

"John Fredersen is looking for an excuse to use violence against the workers."

"Maria, you always pleaded for peace—but now the Robot in your likeness has been commanded to incite the workers to violence."

The workers accept the Robot as Maria.

"I have preached patience—"

"But your mediator has not come—and will never come."

"Maria is inciting the workers to revolt."

"She has told them to destroy everything."

"I cannot believe it."

"You have waited patiently too long. The time has come to act!"

"Why should you sweat yourselves to death to benefit the Lord of Metropolis?"

"Who keeps the machines going?"

"Who are the slaves of the machines?"

"Let the machines stop!"

"Destroy the machines!"

"You are not Maria!"

"Maria pleads for peace, not for violence. This is not Maria!"

"John Fredersen's son!"

"Kill him!"

"Let no one remain behind, we're destroying the machines!"

Not one man or woman remained behind.

"To the central power house!"

HM 2

"The workers are destroying the machines."

"What shall I do?"

"If they destroy the power house, the workers' city will be flooded."

"Open the doors."

"Have you gone mad? You are flooding your own homes."

At last Maria managed to escape.

"Yes, you are the real Maria."

"To the airshaft—quickly! The reservoirs have burst."

"Where is my son?"

"Tomorrow thousands will ask in anguish—where is my son?"

"Save the children—I will tell the workers that they are safe."

"Let us take them into the 'Eternal Gardens'."

"Where are your children?"

"The entire workers' city is under water."

"Who told you to destroy the machines, you fools—and thus to destroy yourselves?"

"The witch! She's to blame for all this. Find her! Kill her."

"Let's watch the world going to the devil!"


"If the mob sees you, they will kill me for having tricked them."

"The witch, the witch!"

"Where are our children?"

"John Fredersen's son has saved your children."

"Save my son!"

"Thank heaven!"

"There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator."


Copyright.svgPD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

Copyright law abroad tends to consider the following people authors of a film:

  • The principal director
  • The screenwriter, and/or other writers of dialogue
  • The composer/lyricist (if the film is accompanied by sound)
  • The cinematographer
  • By extension, the authors of any works that may serve as the basis for a film's plot

The longest-living of these authors died in 1976, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 46 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) between 1928 and 1977 (inclusive) without a copyright notice.

This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

  1. The lines fade in from bottom to top, so are read in the order displayed here. (Wikisource contributor note)