Metropolis, by director Fritz Lang (1890–1976), is generally regarded as a masterpiece of German Expressionist filmmaking and a forerunner of modern science-fiction movies. The film was shot in 1925–26 at the Babelsberg (Berlin) studios of the leading German film company, Universum Film AG (Ufa), and premiered in Berlin in January 1927. This 1926 art-deco poster by German graphic artist and painter Heinz Schulz-Neudamm (1899–1969) was created for the premiere. Lang’s film, based on the novel of the same name by his wife, Thea von Harbou (1888–1954), depicts an urban dystopia, set in the year 2000, in which a class of managers living in luxurious skyscrapers suppress an underclass of workers who live and work underground. Schulz-Neumann’s poster features a female automaton that figures prominently in the film and plays a role in an elaborate plot to liberate the workers. In the background are seen the skyscrapers in the futuristic city of Metropolis. Only four copies of Schulz-Neudamm’s poster are known to exist, one of which was sold in London in 2005 for a record price of ₤398,000, making it the most expensive poster in the world. This copy from the Austrian National Library is a vintage print without the film’s credits. It is part of the collection “Archive for the History of Film,” established in 1929 at the national library by theater researcher and musicologist Joseph Gregor (1888–1960).

Last updated: September 18, 2015