S4E7B – Metropolis (book)*


Wherein we dissect the hybrid tie-in book “Metropolis,” made in conjunction and simultaneous creation with its filmatic counterpart. This episode was recorded on the edges of agriculture and industry with a warming heart-fire of human ingenuity crackling in the background for added ambiance. I am joined by former co-host and original founding member of NDIOS, James Rauch a/k/a Beam, as well as a new guest, amateur historian and genre fan, Richard Bacon.   

All three of us generally found this book to be a laborious read. Our discussion focused heavily on the plethora of different story themes the author crammed into this relatively short work. Both Rich and Beam cited the historical context in which the work was created, however the class struggles inherent in the book that might have been exemplary of the author’s contemporary time seemed to be too buried to provide much insight. Rich ultimately felt that a revenge plot ran strongest through the book, which was the only thing he could grab onto solidly. Ryan saw familial relationships and conflicts put up against the artifice of machine as the central conflict. Beam struggled to finish the book and just didn’t like it, but thought it had cultural importance and influence. 

The episode runs longer than usual, but this otherwise difficult book provided great fodder for debate and discussion. Enjoy the ambiance of the bonfire and grumblings of civilization purring in the distance as my comrades and I imbibe spirits and pontificate on the ambitious meanderings of this lesser known twin origin piece for one of science fiction’s earliest efforts on the screen.




“Metropolis (1925)” by Thea von Harbou (book)

Ryan: 3 Stars “…A romanticized class struggle colored by religious and occult mythology with implacable villains full of old world venom and heroes in glorious melodrama – all set in the vast mechanized metropolis, a city dug as deep in the ground as it towers in the skies…

Beam: 2 Stars “…Melodrama…it was a very over dramatic almost theatrical book in a lot of ways…the style of the writing, the verbosity of it was almost intimidating to me…I didn’t really enjoy reading it…

Rich: 1 1/2 Stars “…Rotwang wants vengeance on the two men who stole the love of his life. One stole her heart. The other stole her life…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)



Rich felt that one of the author’s strengths was her ability to invoke images in the mind with her writing. Strangely enough this reminded him of well known comic writer, Mike Mignola, who’s eponymous character, Hellboy, is also set in a similar era as this work. Rich vehemently recommended that any and all check out this comic author’s work.

Though not acknowledged during the recording, Rich also managed to slip various references from the Simpsons into the episode. Here is Homer’s Simpson’s famous Bee Monologue from Season 6, Episode 2 “Lisa’s Rival, ” part of which got snuck in at some point: https://youtu.be/97M1X13XvOk.

During the episode we mentioned that the marriage of Thea von Harbou began and ended with affairs. Unfortunately, the director’s first wife caught the author and him in the act and took her own life as a result.–or did she? A website exploring “The Mysterious Death of Lisa Rosenthal,” which Ryan mentioned during the podcast can be found here: http://www.williamahearn.com/lisa.html. This same website contains the reference Ryan also mentioned about Thea having confusing decorating tastes hanging on her wall at home at the time of her death with alleged depictions of both Ganhdi and Hitler: http://www.williamahearn.com/thea.html.

One of the various myth/occult references the author used in this narrative, the Seal of Solomon,  or the Star of David, or the Pentagram was brought up in our previous podcast reviews of the cult-based works: “The Devil Rides Out (Black Magic #1) (1934)” by Dennis Wheatley (book) and “The Devil Rides Out (1968)” by Terence Fisher (Christopher Lee) (film).

Lastly, Ryan also cited a eview of this work from a Marxist perspective. That video “Metropolis – Marxist Theory”  by Renegade Cut can be found here: https://youtu.be/DJjbfaEtPN0.



* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.


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