Monday, August 16, 2004

Cop That, Fritz

Fizzwhizz writes:

Film and architecture fans will doubtless have spotted that central London's Shell Centre has a starring role in Fritz Lang's seminal film Metropolis.

But you may be surprised to know that the film wasn't fictional: it was actually a documentary exposing the mistreatment of workers in the factory underneath the Shell Centre itself. The factory was closed in 1928 after the film provoked a public outcry in support of the thousands of identical men forced to toil there, day after day, in futile attempts to control giant, three-handed clock faces. The catacombs were converted into the Northern Line a year later, and eagled-eyed commuters will notice the remains of the crosses that surrounded Maria's altar as they pass through Embankment.

The pleasure garden populated by rosebud-lipped dancing girls on the top floor of the building remains, however; only the company's top executives are given access and the staircase leading to the workers'creche has been permanently sealed, thus avoiding any repeat of the nasty incidents seen in the film.

There have been no evil androids created in the Shell Centre since 1945, although rumours to the contrary resurfaced persistently during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher.

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