Maria – Metropolis‘ Evil Seductress

Published on Dienstag, Januar 23rd, 2007

One of the first entries here discussed Metro- polis, a science-fiction-based movie released in 1927 by Fritz Lang. Now, 80 years after its première, toy company Stenco, known for its robots since 1955, reconstructed Maria.
Created when the face and soul of human activist Maria is transferred to a female robot, robot Maria now becomes an evil seductress in the movie. As a rarity in film those days, Maria had been an example and an inspiration for various machine men in the future, C-3PO of Star Wars probably the most famous.
The original robot was destroyed by a fire while shooting Metropolis in 1926. Since then fans worldwide tried to reproduce her based on the movie scenes and press photos. Her creater Walter Schulze-Mittendorff built a static copy in the 60s.
Now, Stenco wants to distribute 2.000 speci- (wo)men of life-sized Maria made of synthetic resin throughout the internet and the German film library in Berlin beginning in February. Additionally to the figure, busts and smaller models can be purchased by collectors, museums and cinemas.


Published on Dienstag, Mai 23rd, 2006

Inspired by the new entry of zephyrin_xirdal on „unrealised moscow“ pointing to „The Architecture of Moscow from the 1930s to the early 1950s. Unrealised projects“ I suddenly remembered a lecture I once attended in my subsidiary Volkskunde called „Entdeckung des Alltags im Bild“ held by Prof. Dr. Helge Gerndt.

There we discussed the impact of Metropolis, one of Germany’s first science-fiction-based movies released 1927 by Fritz Lang (also known for films like Die Nibelungen, M, and Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse), how its impressions might have had an effect on peoples‘ lives and in reverse what might be concluded therefrom to understand their views on everyday routine and vision of the future. The story is based on a novel by Lang’s wife Thea von Harbou; the futuristic scenes were drawn and built especially by Erich Kettelhut… among others.
In spite of legitimate criticism, especially because of the closeness to notions of National Socialism, Metropolis launched to a milestone in expressionist cinematography and had an incredible impact on the people, even if at its times the movie only brought in a partial amount of the enormous production costs of 5 million Reichsmark, almost ruining UFA forever.
Filmplakat 1Filmplakat 2

„Metropolis beeindruckte das deutsche Publikum, die Amerikaner genossen seine technische Brillanz, die Engländer dünkten sich erhaben, und die Franzosen zeigten sich von einem Film, der ihnen wie eine Mischung aus Wagner und Krupp und im ganzen als alarmierendes Zeichen deutscher Vitalität erschien, beunruhigt.“ (Kracauer, Siegfried, 1979: Von Caligari zu Hitler. Eine psychologische Geschichte des deutschen Films. In: Witte, Carsten: Siegfried Kracauer Schriften Bd. 2. Frankfurt am Main.)

DVD Deluxe Edition 2003 Due to many recuts and an incomplete version of the original material about 25% of the movie are lost. 2001 the preserved parts were digitally remastered by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau- Stiftung, the missing parts were replaced by interluding writings (about the process read Filminstitut – Universität der Künste Berlin), since 2003 available in a Deluxe Edition on DVD at e.g. Amazon.


Published on Dienstag, Januar 15th, 2008

Just a little reminder for everyone interested. The International Conference „Americanisms“ at the Bayreuth Institute for American Studies (BIAS) is going to take place the 31st of January to the 1st of February 2008.

The idea of an American singularity has not only been one of the founding pillars of national self-perception but has also worked as a keystone of identifications, adaptations, and dissociations within and without the boundaries of the United States. Many of the twentieth-century cross-Atlantic discourses on politics, religion, and culture have thus been influenced by a perceived or real dichotomy between American and European concepts and ways of life, between Americanisms and Anti-Americanisms. However, any static and homogenous view on the very concept of Americanism can only be misleading. The plural form of this singularity is therefore intentional, as it invites a long-overdue reflection on regional and ethnic forms of such identification patterns. Furthermore, demographic shifts and a growing influence of immigrant groups from outside the traditional European settler groups have made the boundaries of the United States as well as of Canada fuzzier than a look at the world map suggests. Perhaps most importantly, the trauma of the 9/11 attacks has led to a deep uncertainty in the way the United States is to perceive and position itself, and as a consequence it would appear to invite acts of inward renewal. Such a period of transformation presents an ideal time to take stock of the various consequences of the idea of an American singularity, as well as of old and new forms of Americanism(s) on both sides of the Atlantic.

americanisms01My presentation „Africa in America: An Ethnological Perspective on Black Identity in the Americas“ is one of the very few anthropological viewpoints during the conference. I will speak about an African American perspective on identification with the Americas locating exemplary phenomena of African American culture, such as the Garínagu
americanisms02in Honduras, Maroons in Jamaica, or the „Natural Rebels“ of Haiti. Perspectives on slavery as well as on the northward migration to the metropolises hopefully serve as starting points for a theoretical reflection and a diversified discussion on „Blackness“ in the United States of our time. Remember The End of Blackness.

For further individual abstracts and information please visit the conference’s website. For a quick view on the two days‘ program simply click on the two pictures above.