Behold Beautiful Original Movie Posters for Metropolis from France, Sweden, Germany, Japan & Beyond

Of Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis, the crit­ic Siegfried Kra­cauer wrote that “the Amer­i­cans rel­ished its tech­ni­cal excel­lence; the Eng­lish remained aloof; the French were stirred by a film which seemed to them a blend of Wag­n­er and Krupp, and on the whole an alarm­ing sign of Ger­many’s vital­i­ty.” By Wag­n­er, Kra­cauer of course meant the com­pos­er; Krupp referred to the arms man­u­fac­tur­er Friedrich Krupp AG. We must remem­ber that Metrop­o­lis first came out in the Ger­many of 1927, and thus into a sociopo­lit­i­cal con­text grow­ing more volatile by the moment.

But the film also came out in the gold­en age of silent cin­e­ma, and every seri­ous movie­go­er in the world must have been enor­mous­ly eager for a glimpse of the spec­ta­cle of the elab­o­rate dystopi­an future Lang and his col­lab­o­ra­tors had put onscreen.

And screen around the world that spec­ta­cle did, albeit in a ver­sion cen­sored and oth­er­wise cut in a vari­ety of ways that Lang found ter­ri­bly dis­pleas­ing. How­ev­er bowd­ler­ized the Metrop­o­lis seen by so many back then, it proved to be so much of an attrac­tion that its adver­tis­ing mate­ri­als became near­ly as artis­tic as the film itself.

At Stephen O’Don­nel­l’s blog Gods and Fool­ish Grandeur, you can see a selec­tion of the posters for Metrop­o­lis put up dur­ing the late nine­teen-twen­ties and ear­ly nine­teen-thir­ties in the movie the­aters of var­i­ous coun­tries, includ­ing Swe­den, France, Japan, and Aus­tralia.

All are visu­al­ly strik­ing, but it prob­a­bly comes as no sur­prise that the Amer­i­can ones — prod­ucts, after all, of the cul­ture that gave rise to Hol­ly­wood — get espe­cial­ly breath­less with the accom­pa­ny­ing text.

“FANTASTIC FUTURISTIC FATALISTIC,” promis­es one poster, but not with­out adding “IMAGINARY IMPRESSIVE IMPOSSIBLE” and “EROTIC EXOTIC ERRATIC.” Anoth­er sheet holds out to view­ers a flight “HIGH INTO THE AIR!” Lest they sus­pect that would­n’t give them their quar­ter’s worth of fan­ta­sy, it also promis­es them a plunge “DEEP IN THE EARTH!” A dif­fer­ent tagline, also used in oth­er Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries, declares of the film that “Every­one is talk­ing about it, yet no one can describe it!”

That’s not for lack of try­ing, least of all by the dis­trib­u­tor’s pub­lic­i­ty depart­ment: anoth­er poster’s detailed para­graph boasts of a “mighty, surg­ing love dra­ma of the two worlds that work out their moil­ing des­tinies with­in the con­fines of a great city.” But over the gen­er­a­tions — and after restora­tions — Metrop­o­lis has sur­passed these claims with its val­ue as a work of cin­e­mat­ic art, and indeed become as time­less as a ques­tion once used to pro­mote it: “What’s the world com­ing to?”

via Messy­Nessy

Relat­ed con­tent:

Metrop­o­lis: Watch Fritz Lang’s 1927 Mas­ter­piece

Read the Orig­i­nal 32-Page Pro­gram for Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis (1927)

H. G. Wells Pans Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis in a 1927 Movie Review: It’s “the Sil­li­est Film”

Gaze at Glob­al Movie Posters for Hitchcock’s Ver­ti­go: U.S., Japan, Italy, Poland & Beyond

10,000 Clas­sic Movie Posters Get­ting Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Har­ry Ran­som Cen­ter at UT-Austin: Free to Browse & Down­load

40,000 Film Posters in a Won­der­ful­ly Eclec­tic Archive: Ital­ian Tarkovsky Posters, Japan­ese Orson Welles, Czech Woody Allen & Much More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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