Alfred Abel as Joh Fredersen in Metropolis (Kino International)

1927, dir. Fritz Lang. Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, the most expensive silent film in history, is a classic case of the medium being the message. The story is thin—a master class living in luxury, workers toiling in subhuman conditions—and rich with biblical allusions and other tired tropes. But the glorious art deco set is a marvel and the master cinematographer Karl Freund brings each bombastic building to menacing life. Luckily, both Lang and Freund managed to escape Germany and end up in Hollywood, where the former made harsh noirs and the latter shot episodes of I Love Lucy.