Lang's Film Metropolis<Tab/> Essay

2410 words - 10 pages

When referring to classic films that have set precedence there is none other than that of Lang's film Metropolis. One of the major themes in this movie was that of the function of time which is clearly evident throughout the film. The movie's message is furthered through its relation to such philosophers as Walter Benjamin and Karl Marx. An interpretation of the film proves more powerful when contemplated through Marx' ideas; however, Benjamin offers a few crucial ideas about the design of the film as art and its purpose. In his essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin depicts the philosophy of the masses and art and how that relates to Metropolis. In ...view middle of the document...

They both perceived the problem of the unthinking masses and realized a way to correct this. Furthermore, outside the film, the movie serves also to correct the thought of the contemporary masses-to make them think and be aware of the power of their own thoughts. This movie also proved effective in outlining these thoughts of the masses because of its depth and the way it seemed to jump into the very root of the problem at hand. In his essay, Benjamin points out the effectiveness of film over other art forms. "The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web" (744). The ability of the camera to go beyond that of the human eye is what strengthened the purpose of this film. When the camera zoomed-in on an object, it forced the audience to see that object in much detail and apply more importance to its showing. For instance, when the camera focused on the face of a struggling worker, the audience became much more aware of the worker's hardships.Thus the viewers of such a film are able to see ordinary objects in such unique detail so as to feel strong and different emotions about them. In this way, film "extends our comprehension of the necessities which rule our lives" (Benjamin 746) by assigning significance to daily activities and objects which humans may not normally see. Because of this, films with a serious nature, such as Metropolis, may not provoke positive feelings from an audience; however this should not interfere with the perception of film as an art form. As the times change, so do ideas of art. "Art has left the realm of the 'beautiful semblance' which, so far, had been taken to be the only sphere where art could thrive" (Benjamin 741). Whether art displays the negative possibilities of potential flaws in the human condition or whether it imitates the positive outcomes of certain behaviors or ideas, it should still be viewed as an invaluable piece of genius.The ideas of labor, estrangement, and alienation, written about by Karl Marx in his essay, Estranged Labour, can be seen in the characters and their behavior in Metropolis. In his essay, Marx outlines two distinct classes of people that of the property owners and that of the property-less workers. It is the clash between the functions, desires, and productions of each class which produces such conditions as estrangement and alienation. Inevitably, as more "things" are produced, the value of such produced items increases, which then devalues the human worker. As production increases, workers become mere numbers and certainly are seen as less than human by those who control the labor (Marx 71). "With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces...the worker as a commodity" (Marx 71). The idea of the worker as nothing more than a number was constantly seen in Metropolis, but specifically when Freder took over the machine duties of a worker....

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