Movie: Metropolis by Fritz Lang
The movie Metropolis is set in a city of the future. It is what we would call today a ‘modern city’ with developed buildings and clean roads covered in beautiful cars. It is a city which appears to be one that every man wants to live in, up until the point the story takes us to the people below the city; the workers. The conditions of the workers however, are the opposite of those living above ground.
The workers are treated like machinery and they spend their days over-working. They haven’t been assigned working hours or a proper pay scale; they are simply treated like slaves. The workers do not get to enjoy and cherish life as those living above do. For them there is no entertainment, conversations or any concept of having fun. They have monotonous lifestyles set on repeat. Even their clothing is the same.
The cause of the suffering of the workers is the city ruler who continues with his plan to further modernize the city. He needs the workers to exchange shifts and keep on working so the city continues to run. The narrative of the movie makes it clear that without the workers, there would be no city. Yet, the workers are deprived from any benefits enjoyed by those living above.
However, one day the son of the ruler accidentally goes underground in hope to find the woman of his dreams. The suffering he sees underground moves him to such an extent that he complains to his father. It is then discovered that the workers are sick of their conditions and plan on revolting. In an attempt to stop this revolt, the ruler meets the scientist Rotwang; the one who is responsible for creating the slave mechanism of the city.
Rotwang and the Ruler decide to send a human-like robot underground to disrupt the worker’s plan for a revolution. This was going to be done by making the robot a clone of the Christian maiden (the heroin of the story), who was leading the revolution. Furthermore, things don’t go as planned and a revolution happens as all the workers come above ground and burn many parts of the city. The movie ends with the ruler and the head of the workers joining hands in hope of building a new city where workers are not exploited.
The movie is a great example of a dystopian society which thrives on capitalism and exploitation. In real life, creating a utopian city is an unachievable task and the movie also describes how utopia and dystopia coexist in the same place. For the people living above ground, the city Metropolis was a utopian society. While on the other hand, for the workers living under ground, Metropolis was a dystopian state.
The movie does not just warn people of the disaster a modern technology lead city could bring. But also gives us a glimpse of what our modern cities have become. For instance, the city Karachi is being modernized with bridges and flyovers. Things are good for the people above the bridge whereas those living under the bridge begin to lead neglected lives. Since they aren’t a part of the visible city, the government can easily put them aside. What is more important than this is the fact that these people cease to exist for the rest of the population as well.
Similar cases occur all over the world where the rest of the city becomes modernized, whereas a few parts are set aside. The question all of must ask ourselves is, are we already living in a dystopian society?