Metropolis is a silent science fiction film created by Fritz Lang in 1927 whose setting is the dystopian futuristic era where exists a difference in social classes society. Throughout the film, we can mainly observe the conflict between two difference social class: the working and the rich class. The working class, also mentioned in the film as the “hand”, is consisted in people who are obliged to work in order to survive and keep the city Metropolis functioning. On the other hand, there is the rich class, also known as the “head” which is a society where prosperity and privileges are granted to any individual living under this hierarchy. By showing this contrast, we can imply each of these two societies as two completely different worlds and this is shown in the prelude of the film. For instance, the film is opened by introducing the working society and the inhuman conditions in which these people live. At first, we see a massive group of workers marching in a synchronized pattern with their heads down in signal of defeat, submission and hopelessness(6:50). They get transported through great cubicles used as elevators to their work place. As the elevator keeps descending we can observe the a complete city with buildings which rapidly help us identify that this society resides beneath the surface of the ground. Furthermore, there is a transition of environment and as it is state in the movie “as deep as lay the workers’ city below the earth, so high above it towered the complex known as the “Club of the Son’s” with its lecture halls and libraries, its theaters and stadiums”(6:58). Through this quote we can see a utopian world opposite to that the underground city with its people living in peace and enjoying the privileges and benefits that this society offers them. Here, we are presented to Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen-the master of Metropolis-, who, as everyone in this society, was enjoying the pleasurable life of luxury, discovers the rough and miserable life of the workers living underground the Earth after trying to find Maria, the saint like woman that get him mesmerized when she raised from the underground with the children of the workers(10:02). There, Freder discovers the nefarious conditions that the workers have to face everyday in order to keep themselves and their families alive. Affected by such sorrowful revelations, Freder goes to his father, Joh Federsen, and narrates him what he has seen underground. When his father asks him of his wanderings in the machine halls, Freder reacts by telling him “I wanted to look into the faces of the people whose little children are my brothers, my sisters..… Your magnificent city, Father – and you the brain of this city – and all of us in the city’s light… And where are the people, father, whose hands built your city ?”(23:26). Freder attempts to make his father understand that behind the prosperity, beauty and greatness of the city, there is also hidden deep down the suffering of thousands of people in building up the city of Metropolis. Freder is more sensible towards the misery of the working society and to understand the suffering of the people that he refers as “brothers”(32:23), he decides to switch sides with one of the workers who is in charge of controlling the machine.
Another character, Rotwang the inventor, is presented during the prelude of the film. Joh Fredersen seeks for him in search of some advice about the plans found in the pockets of one of the workers from the underground. Here, he stares at a monument of Hel the woman to whom he felt in love with, and we can clearly observe a shift of emotions in Joh’s face as he approaches to her monument(39:27). However, he gets stopped by Rotwang who tells him that Hel is still alive for him because he can bring her back and shows him the android that would become “the man of the future, the Machine-Man”(43:44). Rotwang wants to make the android a human being at all cost even tough he has to risk his life in order to do so. He also tells Joh that the Machine-Man will be his possession since Joh already has Hel’s son. After this statement, the imagine of Freder appears in the film in which we can imply that Freder is the son of Hel.
Furthermore, in the below ground, the workers get congregated to listen to the prayers of the only person that keep them with hope: Maria. She relates the workers the story of the building of Tower of Babel and how the king, wanting to create the highest tower of all, decides to hire naive people and convert them into slaves for the constructions of the tower. However the ideals of the working people were not the same as the ideals of magnificence and power of the king as it is stated in the Bible “People talk the same language but do not understand each other”(55:19). In my opinion, the tower of Babel symbolizes the creation of the city of Metropolis and how the ideas of Joh Federsen to possess power at cost of the suffering of the workers did not match the ideals of peace and harmony of the working people which also foreshadows the disastrous events leading to its creation. Maria tells the workers that the only solution and hope is a “mediator” that will bring agreement and union between “the head and hands”(55:59). Freder instantly falls in love for Maria and he volunteers to become that “mediator” that will bring these two worlds together.
In the intermezzo act of the film, Rotwang conducts the malicious plan of making the Machine-Man a human that will turn society against the master, Joh. He utilizes Maria body and creates a woman that will brainwash every man’s mind. With her dance and words, she turns every person against the other, friends become enemies, people killing to the other and everything leading to total destruction just to follow the Machine-Man fake Maria’s rules. Freder, along with Maria and Josaphat goes in the rescue of his people and save the children that were forgotten by the workers while trying to kill the heart of the Machine-Man. Finally the workers realized the consequence of their acts and Freder is able to fulfill his destiny by becoming the mediator between the rich and the poor class.
Overall, I find the film really fascinating since it presents a diverse variety of elements of fiction that make the film more engaging and interesting. I should also add that Fritz Lang foreshadows the conflicts in which our society is currently going through and he leaves us the message that the own hands of the man will lead to the annihilation of our own world.