Philosophy and Metropolis

Metropolis, created in 1927, is the grandfather work of the dystopian genre and reminds me of the epistemology of Rene Descartes and The Matrix (1999), which has deep philosophical roots which revolve around skepticism. The central theme of this movie is about capitalism, and the stark contrast it can create between the working class and the elite, and class relations in general.

Rene Descartes, a famous 17th century French philosopher who questioned the legitimacy of our sensory perception in relation to what was considered “real”, may have had influenced Fritz Lang, the writer and director of Metropolis. What led to this thought was how Freder, the protagonist, did not even know the underground half of the society existed before he unknowingly travelled there.

There are two sides to Metropolis: the above ground and below ground. Above ground lays a vast, utopian city with a thriving economy and beautiful gardens. It is depicted as a dreamscape, with the primary color being white which gives a luxurious, heavenly vibe. Metropolis’ power source comes from underground, where the working class industrialists slave over machines in life threatening working conditions. Freder, who is the protagonist, spends his time dwelling in a beautiful garden, until he follows Maria, a woman which he is immediately taken with, underground. Freder’s initial response to this unfamiliar realm is fright, especially when he witnesses the explosion of a machine which results in the injury of many workers in black uniforms. His initial shock to exposure to a world which existed but he was unaware of lays considerable groundwork for reoccurring themes in the entire science-fiction genre, and undoubtedly had influence on the Wachowski Brothers, the writers and directors of The Matrix.

The scene in which Freder reacts upon his submergence into the industrial, dystopian world is closely mirrored in The Matrix, when Neo passes out from a combination of fear and inability to grasp world he could never sense, but always existed. Although I believe The Matrix’s main themes have more biblical roots, I could not help but draw the connections it had with Rene Descartes and Metropolis.

What connections does this movie have with the fear of the evolution of science and Bertrand Russels ICARUS or the future of science?

One thought on “Philosophy and Metropolis

  1. In my opinion, this is a fantastic post. I like how you painted a picture of the above world and below world from the film. Like you described, It also reminded me of the Matrix however I saw the connections of two different worlds. One considered to be a real world and the other a dream world. A dream world in the film where the workers could only dream of being, but in the end constantly reminded that the underworld is the real world.

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