Art Imitating Life Imitating Art Imitating Life and so on

by Don Friedman on May 1, 2017


That’s a poster for the French release of Metropolis in 1927. It’s also the next poster that’s going to be hung in our office to address all that blank wall space.

I discussed once before the rather intimate link between the New York skyline of the 1920s and this movie – the skyscrapers fascinated Fritz Lang, who used them as a starting point for his story, and romanticized them to such a degree that it’s hard to imagine that the movie didn’t inspire later skyscrapers – but this particular view is special. The view (yet again) from my window:


New York’s mystique is composed of both reality and salesmanship, with both parts stretching back to the early 1800s. There is a lot located here that is worthy of note, but it’s also true that as long as there has been anything to discuss there have been people hyping it. Lang’s part in the process is odd, since he was visiting the city for the first time when he had his inspiration. The unnamed city in the movie is, of course, not actually New York, although there are physical resemblances in the towers, in the elevated roads and railroads, in the subterranean passageways, and in the small old buildings at the feet of the towers. One of the most famous scenes in the movie discusses the possible influence in the city of Moloch, whose influence here can nether be confirmed nor disproven:

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