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Metropolis

As a whole the group really enjoyed this movie. We were impressed by how fresh it still seemed, the fabulous Art Deco scenery and the wonderfully inventive acting. Discussion revolved around several themes. We discussed the meanings of the imagery, what has and hasn't come to pass in our modern era, and some of the character development.

The imagery in the movie was a compelling part of the story. Clearly this was a story about man versus machine. The tower of babel featured in the movie reminded some of the World Trade Center and the sorts of disconnections that exist between people. The tower of babel story reminded some that it also meand the triumph of one class over others. We were also struck by the very religious overtones. The robot seemed to be an "Eve" to Maria's "Virgin Mary." The latter was the tempestuous whore, performing a burlesque show while the former was shown as a nurturing motherly saint. The son, Frederich, was in many ways a sort of Jesus Christ character.

The large working class and small elite is certainly still true today. And, for the most part the elite is generally out of touch with the workers. Concerns about the role of science and how it might be used to replace people are still relevant. While some thought the robot could help with the horrible work the men had to do, the message was also that the robot wouldn't make the mistakes of man. In the plot of the movie these fears were manifest by the scenes in which there was a state of confusion about the 2 Maria's and when the mob was actually following the machine. That there was nothing at all positive about the machines reminded some of us of the Bill Joy article we read for class previously.

As for what has and hasn't come true in our "modern" society, we were struck by several things. Certainly this film maker did not conceptualize the smooth plastic boxes that are so characteristic of today's technology (but, perhaps the future will prove him right...). However, our society is grappling with issues around cloning and the implications of "playing god." the building, the uses of transportation (we were struck by the little planes flying around as part of city traffic), even the proliferation of underground worlds (especially shopping malls) has all come to pass. If there was one thing that we thought the director didn't envision, it was the proliferation of advertising, for some of us were struck by this view of the world without billboards and branded products. Although we did wonder if that wasn't in part due to the fact that Germany was then and perhaps still is a slightly less commerical society.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey

Although we all understood that this movie must have seemed quite revolutionary when it was made the group felt, for the most part that it hadn't aged well. We found most of the movie needlessly tedious and most of the time just downright puzzling.

We had lots of questions, none of which were answered to our satisfactin either during the film or during the discussion that followed. And although we were sure that there was a lot written about the topic in various sources, few of us were even interested enough in the movie to pursue the answers with much enthusiasm.

Here are some of our reactions:

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