Happened upon this METROPOLIS gif at Experimental Cinema. I’ve read the original novel by Thea von Harbou a few times over the years. It’s a good deal weirder than the film. She also wrote the film, directed by her husband Fritz Lang, which is a remarkable adaptation of her own work, given how much it cuts from the novel.
Von Harbou had a weird, confusing life. Her marriage was troubled by Lang openly chasing women, apparently, although the cause of the marriage’s dissolution was reportedly that she was caught by him in bed with a young Indian journalist, Ayi Tendulkar. Who she later married in secret, because the Nazi regime – which she otherwise appeared completely loyal to – was not about to let a high-status Aryan woman marry a brown man. Lang bugged out of Germany, Tendulkar was sent back to India, and von Harbou stayed, ending the war in a prison camp making hearing aids and later insisting she only became a Nazi to aid Indian immigrants. There, she received a medal for saving people from air raids.
Immediately after the war, she became a “rubble woman,” a member of the female teams that cleared bombed-out German cities. One imagines her underground like the workers in METROPOLIS. One wonders if she felt like Maria, transformed back from a Nazi robot into a virtuous worker.