Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Metropolis” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book


3.63  ·  Rating details ·  949 ratings  ·  124 reviews
This is Metropolis, the novel that the film's screenwriter -- Thea von Harbou, who was director Fritz Lang's wife, and a collaborator in the creation of the film -- this is the novel that Harbou wrote from her own notes. It contains bits of the story that got lost on the cutting-room floor; in a very real way it is the only way to understand the film. Michael Joseph of The ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Wildside Press (first published 1925)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Metropolis, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Metropolis

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  949 ratings  ·  124 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Metropolis
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

Dieses Buch ist kein Gegenwartsbild. Dieses Buch ist kein Zukunftsbild. Dieses Buch spielt nirgendwo. Dieses Buch dient keiner Tendenz, keiner Klasse, keiner Partei. Dieses Buch ist ein Geschehen, das sich um eine Erkenntnis rankt: Mittler zwischen Hirn und Händen muß das Herz sein. —Thea von Harbou

Translation: This book is not of today. This book is not of the future. It tells of no place. It serves no cause, class or party. This book is a story which grows on the underst/>
Oct 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern
Well… This was bad. Really. Really. Bad.

A Moloch of a city and all-governing technology devouring its human servants. Two classes, the ones above ground, living in silk and leisure, the ones underground, slaving for both their metal and upscale masters, the two of them not interacting on any level. Hello Wells, hello Marx, and hello to a very real early twentieth century. The major plot element is the need for a mediator who would bring unity to those separate semi-societies. But the
Jun 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: narrative
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Absolutely loved the book as much as I loved the movie. The language is a bit strange though, there are no dialogues and the atmosphere is stifling at times due to an overdose of exalted phrases. The characters are bombastic, everything they say or do is filled with great passion adjacent to madness. I almost had a feeling that I'm reading a script for a theatre piece. Theatre actors are usually exaggerating every single movement or word... so do the characters of Metropolis.
I haven't read more original
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Thea von Harbou is best known today as the wife of the great film director Fritz Lang and his close collaborator on most of his early German masterpieces. She not only co-wrote the scripts, she also turned several of them into novels, including perhaps the most famous of all, Metropolis.

She had in fact written several novels prior to her marriage to Lang and had been an actress as well. While Lang left Germany in the early 30s von Harbou remained and her career in the wartime German film industry
classic reverie
When looking for novels that I have already seen the movie, I was excited to see Metropolis. I enjoy watching older movies and silent films are rather interesting in their limited words but needing to explain the plot. I have several silent films on my list; another 1925 silent movie "The Wind" by Dorothy Scarborough which was a terrific read for those interested. With both silent films the novel has much more and "The Wind" was more terrifying and different feel at points but Metropolis was fai ...more
Matt Kelland
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Metropolis is one of my all-time favorite movies. Reading this helped me appreciate the depth of what Lang was portraying in that movie. The story is mostly the same: the main difference is a deeper look at the characters and their motivations, since the novel offers more dialog and introspection than a silent movie's intertitles. Definitely worth reading if you like the film.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read it a long time ago but I have a good memory of this reading.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
This was written as a companion piece to the 1927 German expressionist film of the same name. I love the film and wanted so much to love the novel...

Unfortunately, it feels like the first draft of something that had potential to be great. I kinda wish I could edit it, myself! There are some truly great lines in here. I swear, there's a spark of genius buried under all the rubble. It's the worst book I ever loved.
Gayle Gordon
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have to say I really enjoyed this book, although the heavy-handed language took some getting used to. I mainly like it because it does fill in the gaps left by big chunks of the movie being cut out and lost. There is a lot more to the relationship between Frederson and Rotwang and Hel than we see in the movie. There is a very interesting scene between Frederson and his old mother, showing that he had become so distanced from other people's needs that even she did not understand him anymore. Th ...more
2015 Reading Challenge:
A Book With A One-Word Title, A Book Written By A Female Author, A Book Originally Written In A Different Language


I'm having a tough time trying to figure out whether I really liked this book, or if I thought it was "just okay". On one hand, there is some really powerful imagery here, and I now have a much clearer idea of these characters' motives, Rotwang and Fredersen in particular. Fritz Lang's silent film, while a grand and magnificent specta/>A
Well, that was good.
The use of personification, repetition, and vivid, vivid imagery make this quite an enjoyable read.
The repetition is like a coda, drilling into the reader the motifs, such as the blue linen of the workers, with the black caps pressed hard against the hair, and the hard soled shoes.
An interesting thought, is that although it is nearly exactly the same plot as the movie, it's a totally different story then I remember. Could be me growing up.

Some is
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
books in translation can be a problem. Something doesn't quite work, is it the author, the translator, the editor, idomatic thought that doesn't translate well, culture that doesn't translate well?

In Metropolis, just read and enjoy, make notes, look things up later, then think about it.

You have to look things up to understand them. e.g. yoshiwara is Old Japan's red light district. In Japan there is a difference between "water trade" which is merely to entice and get riled
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I haven’t seen the 1927 Fritz Lang movie based on this novel – a movie which is by all accounts a significant landmark of early cinema – but it’s not hard to see why the novel inspired Lang. It’s a parable of modernity, a tempest, operatic and kinetic, full of religious iconography and Biblical visions. It’s also full of stuff that I generally approve of in fiction, such as future cities, robots, pleasure palaces, mad scientists, appalling horror, heroic struggles against authoritarian machinery
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately the lack of an image does not give this book justice, its in fact a large format (over A4) with generous illustrations. this is the first reason why I gave it 4 stars since I agree with the other comments on this books that the use of English is sometimes a little hard going and they do like to labour the point. The other reason why I hold this book in high esteem is the film itself. I cannot help but think of the film fondly since I saw it years ago on VHS (it has subsequently bee ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another book enjoyed on the iPhone, albeit with many errors in the transcription. Thea von Harbou's life story is so interesting, what with her being an actress and a writer on the side who eventually joined up with the Nazis and died as a cleaning lady, shunned for her Nazi ties. Her novelized Metropolis is deliciously dark and well written.
James F
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Fritz Lang's Metropolis is one of the best-known and controversial of the German silent films. Lang's wife, Thea von Harbou, wrote both the screenplay for the movie, and more or less simultaneously, this "novelization". The basic plot of both film and novel is this: a high-technology city, Metropolis, built and owned by Joh Fredersen, is divided between the rich oligarchs living in the high towers and the exploited workers living under the ground level. Fredersen's only son, Freder, falls in love with a w ...more
Nikolis Asimakis
I haven't watched the film yet, even if I wanted to (heresy!) and then I got this book as a gift and decided to check it first. Oh boy was it a ride. Even if the first quarter was a bit tedious to read, after that the action amplified. Even if the writing style is so early 20th century (big descriptions in multiple paragraphs instead of just using names e.g. lone son of Jon Fredersen instead of just "Freder" used three times in in three consecutive paragraphs) there were some scenes so strong an ...more
Maciej Lewandowski
Dec 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Ryan Sean O'Reilly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to X by: Q
Beautiful writing and good story, but I just felt that I was missing something. Was it an allegory? Was something lost in translation?
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf12
The son of the master of Metropolis confronts his harsh father and decides to leave and make a better (i.e. more fulfilling) life for himself. He dons the clothes of a worker and takes a grueling shift. Afterwards, he follows the working masses to an underground auditorium to hear their inspiration, a young woman prophesying a better future. He falls in love. His father doesn't want to lose his son, and approaches an old frenemy wizard/inventor ("I know quite well the people whom we need are our ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trying to understand the iconic film better made me read this book. It's not an easy one. I'm reading into this the attempt of illuminating abstracted concepts of faith, love, hate, obedience to automated socialization in a world that doesn't exist. Interestingly written, I'm still struggling to find some of the meaning.. Think I'll go watch the movie again, now.
Warren Fournier
I had high expectations for the novel of a film that I consider a masterpiece, the visual encapsulation of my favorite era of science fiction. But though not a bad novel, it did disappoint, and not just because of my association of it with an iconic film. Taken on its own merit as a work of literature, it is mediocre.

The reviews on Goodreads, both negative and positive, are spot on. Thea von Harbou was at home writing screenplays for melodrama, and it shows in the bombastic and histr
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I first saw Metropolis at the age of 15 thanks to my Literature Teacher. She made an extracurricular course in the History of Movies, and Metropolis was the first movie of the course. At that time, I remember being completely flabbergasted by the aestethic of the movie, the special effects obtained through cuts and juxtaposition, and the unbelievable richness in detail.
Today, if you ask me about my Top 10 of Best Movies of All Time, you can be sure that I would mention Metropolis.
I am war
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell. That was, without a doubt, the most histrionic, melodramatic, hysterical and portentous piece of writing that I've ever read. when turned into celluloid it became wonderful. Without sound, Fritz Lang used this tale to create images like this

It really was the literary equivalent of the heightened acting and direction of what was (and still is) a groundbreaking and extraordinary piece of cinema. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work in print and I found myself laughing
This is a strange book. The writing is a disjointed, nightmarish dreamlike narration. It wasn't until more than halfway through that I finally started to feel a sense of story, and even then it was hard to follow. But it does work up to a big climax.

The Kindle version I read, by Internet Archive, was poorly proofed - so bad that I think it was not proofread at all after being scanned from print to ebook. Here is a sentence that was fairly typical throughout the book: Ahlbrow to brow
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No color in this novel from which Fritz Lang adapted his amazing film. Black eyes and white flames. Maria's lips were red. The workmen's uniforms were blue. I think the sky was brown once. The descriptions of the robot (alternately referred to as Parody or the Futura) interested me; a slinky crystal being with transparent skin. I guess it's science fiction. It was awful existential. I mean truly awful. The dialogue was impossible. "Freder...Freder..." The more I think about it the more generous ...more
So this is the book version of the famous film. Obviously its somewhat expanded beyond what they could show in a silent film but its also pretty similar in plot.
Its descriptions of machines are one of the oddest things about it. The workers are linked to the machines but you can't tell if it means literally or figuratively. Overall its fairly well written.
Leeds Main
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A couple things first :
- The book was written BEFORE to the movie, and was written to be a movie. Much of the description in the book can be seen as description to help write a script and direct a movie.
- A couple reviews complain that the characters are "one dimension" or "non-human". Which is true, and the point. If you're looking for the wonderful world of character driven story, bad news, this is much more plot driven.
- The argument that the book is a "pale copy of the m
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Who here has read Metropolis? 11 34 Nov 11, 2018 04:54PM  
Sci-Fi & Fantasy ...: July 2018 - Metropolis 5 4 Jul 18, 2018 09:54PM  
Der "Erwachsenen-...: Metropolis - Thea von Harbou 12 21 Jan 15, 2018 12:52PM  
The Silent Film Era: a silent film era book you want to read 1 7 Mar 12, 2014 08:46AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Reflections in a Golden Eye
  • R.U.R.
  • Arctic-Nation (Blacksad, #2)
  • By the Light of the Moon
  • The Blue Fox
  • Âme rouge (Blacksad, #3)
  • Cymbeline
  • The Return of Tarzan (Tarzan, #2)
  • The Mark of Zorro (Zorro #1)
  • Amarillo (Blacksad, #5)
  • The Godmakers
  • The Dosadi Experiment (ConSentiency Universe, #2)
  • The Black Cloud
  • Under Pressure
  • We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
  • The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Volume Two: Outer Space, Inner Lands (The Unreal and the Real, #2)
  • East, West
  • Harmony
See similar books…
Thea Gabriele von Harbou was a prolific German author and screenwriter, best known today for writing the screenplay of the silent film epic Metropolis (1927). She published over forty books, including novels, children’s books, and collections of short stories, essays, poems, and novellas.

For the German film industry, she wrote or collaborated on more than seventy screenplays in the silent and so
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!” 323 likes
“This book is not of today or of the future.
It tells of no place.
It serves no cause, party or class.
It has a moral which grows on the pillar of understanding:
“The mediator between brain and muscle must be the Heart.”
—T. vH.”
More quotes…