~ short review-essay on Metropolis (1927) ~

[Opening Line] “Shift change!

~ The materialism x spiritualism of class struggle depicted with silent personas, pulsing orchestrations, and expressive imagery. An allegory for the modern world, layered inside of visionary sci-fi, made 94 years ago and just as relevant today…

Metropolis, The Neo-Tower of Babel
The eyes and faces of the world, the people.
The workers being fed to Moloch.

In the world of METROPOLIS (1927): Parasitic city planners live in opulence, in the sky, at peak of the Tower of Babel; apocalyptic conditions beset the laborers under the earth, in the death grip of the Molochian machines that they run to build everything. The people —who are a whole character in this film— need something to believe in —  a Messiah  — in the midst of a technologically dominated world that they let rule them simply by continuing to *do their jobs* of keeping everyone in the city alive.

They choose to worship Maria, a mother, educator, organizer. One of them. But also, a prophet, who envisions a better world and speaks of eventual peaceful mediation between the hands and head of the world…

The nameless masses going to work…
Maria and her congregation, the workers of the world.
Maria and the children of the underclass.

The inevitable revolution is complicated by a Machine made by mad scientist technocrat and Dragon to the planners’ will no longer, Rotwang.

It is made, not for progress, but out of vengeance against the world. This intelligent superpowered Android — symbolizing Rotwang’s dead muse — channels the worker’s rage with plots of violence. And it draws the eye of the planners’ Sons with the possibility of blissful ignorance and endless partying.

The awakened Machine sows dissent, chaos, and madness throughout Metropolis, among both its under- and over-classes, with entropy ready to reap them all in the end… (The A.I. seeks to destroy humanity.)

Joh Fredersen, the city planner, The Maschinenmensch, and Rotwang, the scientist / The Emperor and his Dragon, and his creation, The Golem.
Rotwang transferring the likeness of Maria into Maschinenmensch to sabotage not only the revolution, but the Fredersen’s, angling for his own ascent to the peak of Metropolis…

Machine-Maria, a false Messiah to the poor, seeks to march them to the heart of Metropolis’ industry – the Heart Machine – to kill it, the thing that killed so many of their brothers…(the thing that keeps the city alive.) / Machine-Maria, a false idol to the rich, becomes a hyperobject of ultimate desire to the city planners, gyrating in their private bacchanalia, blasting their minds’ eyes with the possibility of an endlessness to their decadence, promising them even more sex and power to go with their already unrestrained hedonism.

While the rulers dream and orgy, the people move en masse to carry out the Maschinenmensch’s mad will, Machine on Machine violence, in the process abandoning their own children to die in the resulting flood.

The manipulated workers, in despair at their failed, self-destructive revolution, capture and burn the Machine-Maria at the stake, out of vengeance for her false proclamations of glory for them. But their rapturous delight at the ritual sacrifice is snuffed when they see she is steel and didn’t feel anything, was never alive.

In the middle of all the crisis, Freder Fredersen, the ruler’s son, the true Messiah {heart} of this story , helps the Real Maria, his beloved, save the children from the flood, then saves her from disassociating Rotwang, and finally, saves the world by becoming the mediator between comrade Grot, paragon of the hands of the world (the workers, the working class) and father Joh, representative of the head of the world (the city planners, the ruling class).

Hand, Heart, Head.


~ Was Fritz Lang, the “Master of Darkness”, trying to save the world with his film? 1927, in between World Wars, with worker’s movements on the rise and the economy soon to collapse… The core message of Metropolis was an answer to the crisis of the world’s faltering social organization at the time, roaring capitalism gone rampant, ready to bust with global depression and bloodshed:

*Synthesizing* class consciousness, from the bottom up. The Hands and Head meeting via The Heart.

Violent revolution *may* be averted with heartfelt mediation between dying workers and parasitic “rulers”  —  through the development of a more rational, egalitarian distribution of industrial hyper-capitalism’s surplus as a result. Man, what could have been

At any rate, an all-time film.