Last week it was the head clamp from A Clockwork Orange, for this week's Movie Gadget Friday Josie Fraser reaches back to the silent era with the False Maria from Fritz Lang's Metropolis:
German director Fritz Lang and writer Thea von Harbou collaborated to produce the silent classic Metropolis
(1927), which remains a benchmark movie in science fiction and has influenced generations of film makers.
Metropolis depicts a dark and urban future (it's set in 2027) where the idle rich frolic in a city of delights
maintained by slave labour.
The plot centres on a prototype robot created by the unfortunately named C.A. Rotwang, mad scientist and loser in love, who designs a mechanical replica of ex-girlfriend Hel. Somewhere during production, Rotwang loses his right hand and has to have a mechanical replacement. If that isn't the biggest euphemism in film history, ever, I'd like to know your alternatives.
At first it seems as in Rotwang has successfully solved his interpersonal problems with technology, and he names his creation Maschine Mann. It's a Functional rather than glamorous name, but at least the guy is honest enough not to panic about his sexual identity when he's planning on having an intimate relationship with some wires and tin plate.
Rotwang then hits on the idea of reskinning version 1.0, and using nothing but excess electricity, some glass
valves, a swimming cap and an overly pious woman he gets to work. After many special effects he creates the first
screen robot ? Maschine Mann Maria, alternatively known as Dark Maria, False Maria, or my personal favourite, Disco
False Maria is sexy, seductive and only a tiny bit squinty. Unfortunately she also turns out to be as evil as the original Maria is evangelical, and enjoys a brief but meteoric career - by night working a go-go dancer in Metropolis?s red light district, and by day, as an agent provocateur and would-be mass-murderer of working class children.
Eventually she is burnt at the stake, an action which somehow precipitates the birth of the middle classes. With a new layer of middle management in place, the workers rebellion is quelled and everyone can continue living their lives of idle luxury or back breaking ceaseless labour as before. Hooray for happy endings!