Thursday, June 16, 2011

Inevitable Attraction

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Hitler’s ideas of society are reflected in Fritz Lang’s 16 film, “Metropolis”. “ “Metropolis” is filled with dark themes and ideas leading from oppression to ideas of creating a perfect society. Although it is a pre-Hitler and pre-WW the comparisons are amazing. Lang’s use of the theme of futurism, the method in which Freder’s father rules Metropolis, and the idea of the elite working above the lower class all coincide with Hitler’s beliefs. Any one of those are possible reasons as to why Hitler would have wanted Lang to create films for the Third Reich.

Futurism, the movement in which there was a great interest in technology and speed, is also a major theme in the film. The film dealt with the belief that technology would finally lead to a new revolutionary human being and an ideal society. The creation of the robot Maria is similar to Hitler’s idea of the Aryan race. In the film, Rotwang, a mad scientist, is asked by Freder’s father, the owner of the company to find a solution to control the death rate of the workers. Rotwang’s solution is to create a robot that has impeccable work habits and will not die on the job. He models the robot after Maria, an influential worker at the factory. The futurism movement most definitely fascinated Hitler and was incorporated in his political goals. It paralleled his idea of creating the perfect Aryan race and ridding the world of all who were weak, or whom he believed to be weak, very much like Freder’s father.

The similarity between the character of Freder’s father and Hitler are apparent. This may be another reason why Lang appealed to Hitler. Freder’s father is referred to as the master of Metropolis. He dominates all and, aforementioned, feels the need to create an idyllic working society. The Hitler allusion is particularly noticeable in the scenes with the underground factory, which, undoubtedly, resembles concentration camps. The workers are treated like livestock and herded off to work. The picture of them working aimlessly with lifeless expressions is disturbing to say the least. The imagery used is dark and powerful and would stay clear in people’s minds.

Lang often shows the difference between the city of Metropolis and the underground. The people in the upper class live above ground and are unaware of the vast number of lower classes who live under them, the lower classes run the machines that keep the above ground in working order. The underworld is shown as dark and is depicted almost like a futuristic hell, while the “real” world is shown a world of delight with the pleasure gardens, almost like heaven. Hitler wanted to repress the lower classes or whom he felt were the lower classes, such as the Jews. He wanted to remove the Jews from their status as doctors and officials and keep them under his command, and better yet get rid of them. The picture of the masses being shoved into the mouth of the gargantuan machine also helps to support this. Those who are weak and who have failed to keep up with the work are being “eaten” by the machine. Hitler, as said before, wanted to rid the world of all weak and impoverished people. Images similar to that of men being “eaten” by the machine would have great effect on the minds of those who watched it and would also engrave the idea of an Aryan society in the mind of those people.

Fritz Lang’s schemes while creating “Metropolis” are similar to the convictions felt by Hitler. His use of futurism, ruling of a city, and class distinctions all corresponded with the same views Hitler had. The dark images used to portray the themes would have the same sort of impact that Hitler would have wanted to create with his Third Reich films. Lang may have not created his film to appeal to people such as Hitler, but the attraction was inevitable.



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