The Film Metropolis Directed By Fritz Lang And The Novel Nineteen Eighty Four ( 1984 )

The Film Metropolis Directed By Fritz Lang And The Novel Nineteen Eighty Four ( 1984 )

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“Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” In accordance with Karl Marx, the notion of the change to a ‘perfect’ communist state was for the working class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. Both the film Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang and the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) written by George Orwell elaborate on this aspect of revolution and the consequences that follow. The texts do this by highlighting the oppression placed upon the proletariat from the totalitarian state, particularly its use of technology to maintain control. This forces the working class to lose the ability to think rationally in the process; which prompts the idea of revolution. This loss of rational thought ultimately results in the said revolution not being undertaken successfully.

In both texts, the upper class oppresses and controls the working class through the implementation of technology. In the film Metropolis, this idea is depicted through Joh Fredersen keeping the workers occupied with the city’s machines, as well as later sending the Maria-bot to manipulate the workers into his favour. In the opening scene, a montage of machines is presented, which is then superseded by the changing of shifts; a series of eye-level shots of the workers marching in uniformity in time with the slow tempo of the workers’ leitmotif. Altogether, this is heavily symbolic for the workers turning into machines themselves, which accentuates the extent the upper class has gone to in maintaining oppression. This idea is emphasised later in the film as Freder (the film’s protagonist) ventures down to the Worker’s City and hallucinates that one of the machines is Moloch; an anc...


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...ut however, the workers forget their children amidst the revolution. After Grot (the machines’ supervisor) asks them “Where are your children?” a mid-shot of several distraught workers is presented. This suggests that their rationality has returned as they see how oblivious they became to their error during their quest for power. At the end of the film, Freder joins Grot’s and Joh Fredersen’s hands together in a mid-shot and a title card follows stating “The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart”. This is symbolic for the two classes coming together and reconciling, but it is further suggested that Lang alludes to The Communist Manifesto and attempts to refute it. Here, Lang pushes his anti-communist views and proposes that a complete overthrow of the government is not necessary; that a balance can be made between the bourgeoisie and proletariat.

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