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Metropolis: The M-Machine

Metropolis is a 1927 film by German director Fritz Lang, made alongside his wife, Thea von Harbou's book of the same name. The film was truly ahead of its time, and today is an integral part of popular culture, most notably as one of George Lucas' main inspirations for Star Wars. Seeing as Star Wars is undoubtably LEGO's most popular licenced theme, I thought it was only fitting that they make a set of perhaps its biggest inspiration, especially in the lead-up to Metropolis' 100th Anniversary.

In my design, I have decided to make a recreation of the iconic M-Machine, whose accidental destruction is what makes Freder see the true nature of the city. The visible mechanism can be operated from the back. The top can be removed, and instead replaced with the head of Moloch, a demon that Freder hallucinates as a personification of the pain and torment that the workers endure for the upper-class.

For the interior, and on the sides, I have included some of the most iconic scenes from the film. These are:

  • The Catacombs in which Maria encourages the disgruntled workers to await a mediator to save them.
  • The stage at Yoshiwara, upon which the Machine-Person, in disguise as Maria, leads the population astray.
  • Joh Fredersen's office, in which Fredersen, the master of Metropolis, supervises the running of the city. It is also from where Josaphat is fired, showing Freder his father's callousness towards the population.
  • Rotwang's laboratory in which Rotwang creates the Machine-Person, and disguises it as Maria in order to bring down Metropolis.
  • The machine at which Georgy, or number 11811, works, and that Freder offers to operate instead.
  • The Heart Machine, where Grot toils away, and that keeps the entire city working.

Alongside the set I have chosen to include ten Minifigures. These are:

  • Freder, son of Joh Fredersen, the master of Metropolis. After seeing the mistreatment of the workers, he takes it upon himself to become the Heart, or the mediator between the Head (the upper class) and the Hands (the workers).
  • Maria, a woman of the lower class, who preaches the values of peace and togetherness, encouraging the workers not to rise up violently.
  • The Machine-Person, (also known as Futura or the Maschinenmensch), both in its robot form, and in disguise as Maria. The Machine-Person is created by Rotwang to replace Joh Fredersen's wife Hel, towards whom he had feelings. Joh Fredersen orders Rotwang to use the Machine-Person to avert revolution, but Rotwang instead uses it to spark revolution.
  • Joh Fredersen, the master of Metropolis, who is callous and indifferent towards his people. He tries, in vain, to stop an uprising, but after encouragement from his son, he must work to build a better future.
  • C. A. Rotwang, the mad scientist who creates the Machine-Person, and uses it to start an uprising as revenge for Joh Fredersen who married the woman they both loved. I have given Rotwang a lantern which he uses to navigate the catacombs.
  • Grot, the operator of the Heart Machine. He acts as a de facto leader of the workers, at first dissuading their revolution, before joining it. He is encouraged by Freder to extend an olive branch to Joh Fredersen, and help rebuild Metropolis. I have given Grot a spanner which he uses to operate the Heart Machine and a map of the catacombs which he hands over to Joh Fredersen.
  • Georgy (or 11811), a worker in Metropolis who Freder befriends. Georgy is led astray by the frivolous distractions of the consumerist upper class, but eventually sacrifices himself to save Freder. I have given Georgy Freder's hastily written note leading him to Josaphat in Freder's apartment.
  • Josaphat, an upper class worker who is fired from his job in Fredersen's office for not telling him about the M-Machine's destruction. Freder befriends him and allows him to instead live at his house. I have given Josaphat a clipboard and pen which he uses at his job.
  • The Thin Man, Joh Fredersen's ominous lieutenant, who, on Fredersen's orders, tails Freder, orders Georgy to return to the workers' city and tries to bribe Josaphat to do the same.

In conclusion, I believe that Metropolis is a film that defined a genre. One of the first science fiction films, and the most expensive film ever made to that point. Original Metropolis posters are the most valuable film posters in the world (and I have included one as a 2x4 printed tile). A film that warns against the dangers of unchecked authority and of unfettered violence, it lives on as a vital part of popular culture. And the M-Machine's destruction is what makes a privileged, upper class boy see the violence inherent in the system. This is why I hope to see LEGO Metropolis hit the shelves someday soon.

Make sure to leave your support. After all, the LEGO company is the Head, and we, the builders, are the Hands, so we must let LEGO IDEAS be our Heart.

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