ONE OF THE FIRST ROBOTS DEPICTED IN THE EARLY CINEMA YEARS AND THEIR INFLUENCE: THE “MASCHINENMENSCH” 

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The Maschinenmensch, which from german translation means “robot” or more specific “machine-man”, was one of the main fictional characters in Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis, played by German actress Brigitte Helm in both robot form and human incarnation. 


Helm played its role as a gynoid, which is a female robot or android created by the prominent scientist character Rotwang. Named Maria in the film, and “Futura” in Thea von Harbou’s original novel Metropolis, she was one of the first robots ever showed in cinema.
The Maschinenmensch has been coined with several alternate names through time such as Parody, Ultima, Machina, Futura, Robotrix, False Maria, Robot Maria, Roboria and Hel to name a few. 

The robot design impacted years later other cinema, fashion and music works, one of the most prominent was for the movie Star Wars, where the original sketches by Ralph McQuarrie’s C-3PO were largely based on the Maschinenmensch. For the 1982 Blade Runner film, the theme of Machines was inspired from the robot, which those on Blade Runner are indistinguishable from humans as they are robots in “gynoid” form as same as the Metropolis film.

In music for example, was featured in the video clip of Queen’s song Radio Ga Ga, where famous singer Freddie Mercury’s used a look alike mask with the robot’s face and in fashion, designer Thierry Mugler created several outfit designs in silver metal and plastic for one of his collections in the 90s. 

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Author: Jesus Padilla

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