Replica of 'Maria' robot from Fritz Lang's 1927 film: ‘Metropolis’; with fragment from replica’s leg, and replica’s object label, by Kropserkel Inc., Toronto, Canada, 2016. The replica 'Maria' robot was based on original drawings and research in Walter Schulze-Mittendorff's archive.
Maria was the first blockbuster robot, created by the German designer Walter Schulze-Mittendorf. Her look evokes the golden mask of the Pharaoh King Tutankhamen, discovered five years before her creation. Yet she also inspired generations of subsequent film robots, including Star Wars’s C-3PO. Maria was described in Metropolis as a Maschinenmensch – a ‘machine man’. Underpinning her striking appearance was a deep unease about the place of humans in an uncertain world. Were most humans just machines, to be used and abused?