Author: Ellie Midwood
Weimar Berlin, 1924
Unemployed actors, profiteers, cabaret girls, and impoverished aristocracy – out of this wild set of characters populating Weimar Berlin, Margarete Gräfin von Steinhoff belongs to the latter category. Having lost everything due to hyper-inflation, she considers jumping into the freezing waters of the Spree rather than facing the humiliating existence shared by millions of her fellow Germans. However, a chance meeting makes her change her mind at the last moment and offers her a chance to rely on the help of the metropolis itself, where anything can be sold and bought for money and where connections are everything. The bustling nightlife of cosmopolitan Berlin, with its casinos and dance halls, brings good income for the ones who don’t burden themselves too heavily with morals.
After a New Year’s Eve party, Margot finally meets her ever-absent and mysterious neighbor, Paul Schneider, who makes a living by producing a certain type of film for his rich clientele. Under his guidance, Margot discovers a new passion of hers – photography and soon, her talents are noticed by the prominent newspaper, Berliner Tageblatt itself. But being an official photographer of the most celebrated events of the La Scala and most famous Berlin theaters no longer satisfies Margot’s ambitions. As soon as the chance presents itself for her to get involved with the cinematography on the set of “Metropolis” – the film with the highest budget ever produced by the UFA – Margot jumps at it, without thinking twice. At the same time, Paul becomes involved with a rival project, “The Holy Mountain,” which stars an as yet unknown actress and an emerging director in, Leni Riefenstahl. As the two women meet, professional rivalry soon turns into a true friendship, fueled by their passion for cinematography. However, due to the economic woes facing Germany, both projects soon run out of money and now, both film crews must go to extreme lengths to save their respective productions.
Set against the backdrop of a decadent, vibrant, and fascinatingly liberal Weimar Berlin, “Metropolis” is a novel of survival, self-discovery, and self-sacrifice, in the name of art, love, and friendship.
An insightful look into Weimer Berlin in the 1920’s.
Ellie Midwood has a way with painting vivid scenes and beautiful imagery. Her research is always spot on so no matter what time in history she chooses to write about, you feel as if you are right there in the middle of it.
In this story, Metropolis, Margot von Steinhoff is a photographer on the set of a film (Metropolis). Throughout the novel, the process of the creation of one of histories most impactful movies is described in a refreshing way with historical figures brought to life.
Of course with the beautiful parts of any town, there are dark parts described in the story too. The streets of Berlin aren’t an easy place with the nightlife and everyone just trying to make a living in a world filled with rising tension.
Besides Margot, every character is well fleshed out. Her love interest and best friends were also well done. Though the story is beautiful, it does deal with some difficult topics.
All in all, this is another beautiful novel of Ellie Midwood’s.