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Maschinenmensch

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Maschinenmensch
Machinemaria

Real Name

Inapplicable

First Appearance

Metropolis (1927)

Created by

Fritz Lang; Thea von Harbou

Novel Origin

The Maschinenmensch's back story is detailed in Thea von Harbou's original 1927 novel. It is described as a very delicate, but faceless, transparent figure made of crystal flesh with silver bones and its eyes filled with an expression of calm madness. Rotwang addresses it as "Parody." When Fredersen asks what it is, he calls her "Futura ... Parody... Whatever you like to call it. Also: Delusion ... In short, a woman". Rotwang then explains that Futura is perfectly obedient and that she is the ideal agent-provocateur, able to become any woman and tempt men to their doom. Later, when Rotwang has given it Maria's appearance he instructs her to disobey Fredersen on purpose and foil his plans and ultimately destroy him. Though mention is made of Rotwang's former lover, Hel, they are never directly associated with each other.

Film Origin

The film version is different due to obvious constraints of the practical special effects available at the time. The Maschinenmensch is a metallic automaton shaped like a woman. In the film version, Rotwang proudly proclaims that Hel, Rotwang's former lover, is not dead but alive in the form of the automaton. Hel chose Fredersen over Rotwang, something for which Rotwang never forgave Fredersen.

In the end, after the gynoid Maria has incited the workers to riot, destroy the city's machines, which causes the subterranean worker's city to flood, the workers believe it has caused their children to die by drowning in the flooded city. They capture gynoid Maria and burn her at the stake, though it reverts to mechanical robot form just before its destruction.

Notes

  • The Maschinenmensch has been given several names through the decades: Parody, Ultima, Machina, Futura, Robotrix, False Maria, Robot Maria, and Hel.
  • The Maschinenmensch is an archetypal example of the Frankenstein complex, where artificial creations turn against their creator and go on a rampage. Artificial beings with a malevolent nature were a popular theme at the time, as seen in films such as Der Golem or Marcel Lherbier's L'Inhumaine. In a once-missing part of the film, Rotwang explicitly instructs the robot to pervert Fredersen's orders and help bring down his worst enemy, which helps explain her destructive behaviour. Different incomplete restorations of the film made since the original offered different explanations of the robot's behaviour (one, for example, saying that Rotwang has in fact lost control of the robot and it is not under anyone's control), or no explanation at all.
  • DC Comics later evolved the character into their own version called "Mekanique". The DC Elseworlds comic Superman's Metropolis features another interpretation of Mekanique, called Futura.
  • Her robotic character was the inspiration for C-3PO in Star Wars.

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