In Metropolis we read of a massive city of the future. Living and working underground, away from the sun, are the laborers, and living high in the towers are the elite. Von Harbou describes them as the hands and head of the great city. As forces move to disrupt a girl, Maria, strives to make things right. She becomes a focal point, a teacher. What is trying to teach is the heart. The bridge between hands and head is the heart.
It’s not quite like other dystopian novels in that it shows in the end a way that the author feels would work to bridge the gap between the oppressor and the oppressed other than violence. Except this only comes after violence which I don’t think the author really thought about.
Even if you don’t agree with the central premise of the book it’s an interesting read and will give you something to ponder. For me, I think the heart is important but only if, as Von Harbou suggests, it’s used in conjunction with the head as well.
Some people complain about the writing style and that’s understandable. But there are two things to keep in mind in relation to this. First, Von Harbou was German. Second, this was 1925 and the style of prose at the time was more flowery as a rule.
“The story is set in 2026 in a technologically advanced city, which is sustained by the existence of an underground society of laborers. The son of one of the city’s founders falls in love with a girl from the underground society, as the two societies begin to clash due to the lack of a unifying force.”
Of course the story is more famously known from the Fritz Lang movie by the same title. The movie is exceptional and well worth watching. Like all movies it is different. However, the book was written in conjunction with Lang, since Von Harbou was his wife, with the intent of making it into a movie one day. So the blend is much better than other movies you may have seen. The most stark difference, to me, is the difference between the movie’s robot and the book’s.