Unsure what to expect from Metropolis, I was very surprised of the course the movie actually took once we started watching it as a group. For some reason I associated a silent movie more with a documentary genre of movie but did not expect to see a science fiction film in silent – probably partly because we are so used to science fiction films having all these special sound and visual effects nowadays, and take these for granted, that at times we have to really remind ourselves that technological means in 1927 differed. So I was surprised to see Metropolis be so fiction-based.
Metropolis was filmed in 1927 but the screenplay is envisioned to take place in 2026 and the film portrays the producers view on how society would look by then. In my opinion, the movie showed a view of the future that was too dark and too pessimistic. Maybe I can only say this with so much certainty because I live close to the projected time period and the dark premises foreseen by Metropolis do not seem to come true anytime soon. However, even if I had lived in 1927, I would probably not retract or alter the statement. While it is true that the 1920s were characterized by somewhat of a class struggle between wage labor and industrialist, increased unionization and increased industrialization, the film fails to take into account the positive societal movements that took place during the era. Certain aspects of the Progressive Era were designed to directly counter the adverse effects of industrialization and promote better living conditions and greater social equality for all. An example could be laws regarding occupational safety standards many progressive legislatures as well as Congress passed during the time period. These measures were able to offset some of the harsh working conditions once can see in the movie. In addition, these movements were largely driven by the middle class and often supported by philanthropist capitalists such as Andrew Carnegie and his gospel of wealth. This contradicts the movie’s assumption of total class struggle at least to some extent.
Overall, watching Metropolis was a more enjoyable experience than expected. While certainly not my choice of movie for a weekend or leisure, the content of the movie actually related very well to the material covered in class.