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Reflections on Good & Evil and the Search for Knowledge in Fritz Lang's Classic Film

Ginny Rayner

on 13 March 2013

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Transcript of METROPOLIS

REFLECTIONS ON GOOD, EVIL AND KNOWLEDGE IN FRITZ LANG'S CLASSIC FILM STRUGGLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL: Echoes sentiments produced in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' Communist Manifesto
Demands a mediator between the "Head" (Bourgeoisie) and the "Hands" (Proletariat), linked by the "Heart" (A Middle-Man, sensitive to both parties)
Conflict between good and evil is portrayed through struggles with class and morality, between the "evil" actions of Joh Fredersen and Rotwang, versus the "good" actions of Maria, Josephat, and Grot.
Driven by a passionate interest in "brotherhood" and a burgeoning romance with their spiritual leader Maria, Freder Fredersen (Joh's son) is driven by love to unite the Workers and the Elites of Metropolis.
SIGNIFICANCE AND SYMBOLISM: As one of the first dystopian science fiction films, it gave inspiration to George Orwell with his novel, 1984; Nazi propaganda films such as Triumph of the Will; George Lucas' C-3PO; Scenes in Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Brazil, Minority Report; and even for many of the conceptualizations of Batman's Gotham City.
Great example of German Expressionism, and early dystopian science fiction
Biblical references to "The Tower of Babel" implies that conflict between people is due to a lack of shared understanding rather than language. Joh's offices, within the “New Tower of Babel”, indicates that this cycle of domination has repeated itself and illustrates the moral folly of a few men who seek to control others. In this sense, the story seeks to provide an allegory that critiques human hierarchy (the real evil).
The conflict between "Man" and "Machine" throughout the film, showcases how mankind can be controlled by its creations. It illustrates a cautionary tale showing the threat of a world run by machines without "heart", or empathy/understanding, the defining features of humanity that we should be exercising more often.
THE SEARCH FOR KNOWLEDGE: A Melodrama focusing on the class struggles in a stratified 21st century dystopian future, where "Workers" are slaves to underground machines controlled by the elite of Metropolis, who reside in lofty skyscrapers and whose pleasurable existence is powered from the labours of the working class. METROPOLIS NOTES: RELEASED: 1927
WRITTEN BY: Thea von Harbou
AND HANDS MUST BE THE HEART BY VIRGINIA RAYNER The Mediator, Freder Fredersen, deviates from his ignorance after his introduction to Maria, as he is led into the depths of the Workers' City and learns of that which has been hidden from him. As a result of his experiences, he seeks out knowledge about the Workers and their lives. His experience trading places with a worker for a day awakens in him a desire driven by his love for Maria to become a champion for social justice, pleading the workers' case to his father, seeing that it would be in the best interests of all for Joh to appease, cooperate and communicate with the Workers. REFERENCES:
Filmsite.org: http://www.filmsite.org/metr.html
IMDB Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017136/
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