Week 2 Blog Assignment

In the beginning of Metropolis we see a vast number of individuals in multiple single-file lines, marching in unison down to “the depths”. Underground is where most of these workers would ultimately face their death due to the horrific work conditions. The first thing that comes to mind when presented with this sort of image is the Holocaust and/or people going to war. Taking into consideration that Metropolis is in fact a German expressionist film, I think it is definitely fair to assume that the rise of the Nazi regime was inevitable. In this particular Holocaust like scene there are clear cuts where it switches from one angle to another, showing the marching from multiple perspectives. The marching scene is also interrupted by the blowing of the whistle-which we learn as the film progresses, is indicative of something troublesome. Therefore it may not be considered mise-en-scène, or one long, continuous shot. The viewer must analyze, more in depth, what is occurring on screen without any formal narration. The simplicity of this scene leaves it up to each spectator to interpret–on his or her own– what Lang is attempting to portray. This is one of the several problems Bazin presents. He does not prefer the meaning of a scene to be left open for interpretation, nor does he favor the fact that the scene changes repeatedly. The darkness present and slow music in the background makes this lengthy shot even more ominous. Even the bent over, hunchback like body language of the workers is indicative of their inferiority in Metropolis. It is almost as if they are constantly bowing down to one of higher authority. I interpreted the harmonization of the workers march as purposefully representing the workers as one entity. They are not viewed as their own character because none of them possesses a distinct identity. All in all, it is remarkable how such a brief clip from this movie with not a lot of action, and no words, can be of such great meaning.


2 thoughts on “Week 2 Blog Assignment

  1. I find your post to be quite intriguing. It is apparent that the uniform motion and the common inferiority complex among the workers is a perfect breeding ground for fascism or an oppressive authoritarian government to manipulate and control the common man/ working man. I also found great interest in your comment about the hunchback nature of the workers and how it might serve as a metaphor to the constant bowing down to higher authority. I had not thought of a reason for their hunchback nature but it really adds to the oppression of the world Metropolis takes place in.

    The way this film was created draws great influence from the German Expressionism Movement, which characteristics include dark subject matters and expression of inner thoughts through the make-up, set design, the players movements/performance. This film was the epitome of German Expressionism Movement and was revolutionary not only to the genre of sci-fi but also a commentary of the political state of Germany.

  2. I like the idea that the workers being hunched over is symbolic of them eternally bowing down to the upper authority of metropolis, it adds much to the meaning of the film. However, I would say the unity of their movement is not indicative of being considered one entity, but rather none are important enough to warrant a distinction, they are simply cogs in a larger machine, easily replaceable, ironically demonstrated by Freder’s taking of one of the jobs.

    The march to war aspect of the workers, however, I feel is not correct. Fascist Germany was very proud of it’s army, marching to war was something to be proud of, the spread of German culture and politics to what were considered “lesser” peoples. “All Quiet On The Western Front”, a German book about the reality of war, was banned and burned in Germany, even before Hitler’s rise to power.
    The perspective of the workers being part of the Holocaust is spot on though. That the Germans could so comfortably create that is indicative of the potential of the rise of Fascism.

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