Working Conditions in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Fritz Lang’s 1927 science-fiction masterpiece Metropolis¬†depicts a futuristic dystopia ridden with class-struggle. Made in Weimar Germany, the films follows Freder, the son of the city’s overlord, and Maria, his love interest, as they try to disenfranchise the classist nature of this urban society. Throughout the film, there is a stark contrast between the scene’s of the workers slaving endlessly to power the city, and the pleasured lives of rich. The city eventually crumbles due to the rocky internal nature and ends with a reconciliation (despite total destruction) of “head” and “heart.”

The scene that stood out to me the most was when Freder explained the horrific details of an accident on of the machine rooms to his father, Fredersen. Freder was down there out of curiosity of the depths, and was following Maria. He watched in shock when a machine exploded and caused several deaths and injuries. He begs his father to fix these horrible conditions, but his father remains unaffected.

This scene paints a picture of the horrible factory conditions in Weimar Germany, as well of the rest of Europe at the time. Economic output was a top priority as modernization prevailed, even though many times it was at the expense of many workers health and safety. It also depicts how little factory owners cared about these workers. To them, workers were replaceable as everybody was looking for work. Conversely, it also shows that perhaps some wealthy people, such as Freder, were appalled by these conditions and urged immediate change.

Maria prophesized a mediator that would bring the classes together and help the workers, could this be Adolf Hitler?