One Reporter's Opinion: Tom's Notes on Criticarts' Metropolis Meeting

Businessy Items Decided:

Metropolis discussion, or at least parts of it. Feel free to respond.

We started with a discussion of the format of silent film. Rachel and Meredith saw the movie at the Michigan Theater with a live organist and they thought much of the time the music was asynchronous with the movie. This was interesting because it seemed to inject a sort of human edge into the movie about machines and automation.

Becca then reported on a book chapter she had read which examined the Nazi themes running through the movie. Apparently Hitler really liked it and wanted Fritz Lang to make all of the Nazi films. Also in this article was the idea that the film company aimed to show the futility of worker revolution and it was meant to distract workers from thinking about their general position in German society. Presumably an anti-Communist thing. One final thing mentioned was there is a Freudian interpretation of this flick, seeing the city of Metropolis as Mother. Adjectives such as "womby" and "self-contained" were tossed out to capture this idea.

Rachel expressed frustration with the lack of text accompanying the fake Maria's speeches. We then speculated that perhaps not giving text and allowing viewers to imagine the things she was orating made it more frightening and vivid than if the text had been given.

The making of the replicant Maria took up the next part of the conversation with Rachel postulating that the mix between Maria and the machine made for an evil being. The machine adopted the appearance of Maria, yet none of her good points. This was seen in contrast to Bladerunner where Rachel (the replicant in the movie of course) is a machine with the positive aspects of humanity, so much so that the distinction between human and machine becomes blurred. Maria the machine had a licentiousness to her seen in the look of her eyes. This led to a general agreement that the movie had a strong element of seeing machines as evil, evidenced in the fake Maria and the one Freder envisions consuming the workers.

This idea was pursued further into our contemporary times and resulted in a brief discussion of Artificial Intelligence. The idea went that if there are two entities which can be called human and machine, then current trends in information technology were overemphasizing things machines perform better than people. The logical extension of this mindframe which inevitably treats humans as producers, leads to a reality where humans will be devalued and will be pushed to think more in ways which computers do.

We then went on to discuss the oddity that there were no women workers other than Maria until the very end and noone was quite sure what the role of women was in the workers' world.

A discussion of the scene in the Garden of Pleasure followed. Generally Maria was seen to be playing Eve to Freder's Adam, bursting his paradise and innocence and all. Also, the act of bringing the children into the garden was seen as an end to their innocence. It was suggested that Maria took the kids there to show them what existed through the work of their parents.

Finally, we had a vague conversation about the visions of the future that Metropolis contained. Among other things, television, both as an idea and a movie technique of mirroring, and many flying planes were mentioned. Everybody liked the shoes.

Our meeting ended with a long and pretty intense discussion about our children and their exposure to computers, television, and other media which I don't feel I am the right person to explain. Maybe I will write my insights and thoughts on the subject at a later date. You all should sent me any responses to this and I will link them to this page for easy perusal.