Metropolis is a 1927 silent science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang and written by Lang and Thea von Harbou. Lang and von Harbou, who were married, wrote the screenplay in 1924, and the story was novelized by von Harbou in 1926. It is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and examines a common science fiction theme of the day: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film stars Alfred Abel as the leader of the city, Gustav Fröhlich as his son, who tries to mediate between the elite caste and the workers, Brigitte Helm as both the pure-at-heart worker Maria and the debased robot version of her, and Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the mad scientist who created the robot.
Metropolis was produced in Germany in the Babelsberg Studios by Universum Film A.G. (UFA) and released in 1927 during a stable period of the Weimar Republic. The most expensive film of its time, it cost approximately 7 million Reichsmark to make. The film was cut substantially after its German premiere, and there have been several efforts to restore it. Also, the American copyright lapsed in 1953, which eventually led to a proliferation of versions being released on video.
More on the restoration of Metropolis at Kino.com (WARNING: noisy intro!)