Friday, February 18, 2011
Metropolis reflects industrialization and the rise of the machine through its portrayal of movement both in machine Maria’s dance and the workers at their jobs. First, one should focus on machine Maria’s dance and keep in mind that she is a machine, thus her dance moves are fitting of a machine to make. To put it simply, Maria just looks plain weird. She begins the dance with holding her hands in a typically Egyptian-style form. She then awkwardly begins to move her hips back and forth and turn in a circle. Right around 1:00, Maria’s movements look even more mechanical; her posture becomes hunched, and she moves in less human ways. This distortion of her body plays up the notion that this is the machine version of Maria. It is interesting to note the male response to Maria. The male observers are drawn to her and fixate on her dancing body, entering into a trance of sorts. It is interesting to compare today’s views of attractiveness with the German views of attractiveness in the 1920s when Metropolis was made, because they are clearly not the same. The notion of femininity and female sexuality will come more into play later in the movie, but one should pay attention to the fact that it is only the machine Maria that exudes this attraction, not the real Maria. Perhaps Metropolis is making a statement about the extreme popularization of machines at the time and the transformation of society into a society of the machine in which everything is mechanized.
Going off of this point, the workers in Metropolis express mechanization and almost act as robots themselves, like the machine Maria. Hard at work, their movements are jerky as they crank the levers back and forth while remaining in sync, as shown at 2:30 in the video. In fact, they are so in sync, that their movements even look like a dance. The workers have no individual personalities and instead perform as one entity—their only goal and purpose is to keep the city running. With the turn of the 20th century came a rise in industrialization, factory work, and assembly lines. Machines began to do more and more, making human jobs less necessary. In order to maintain employment, it was essential for humans to act as machines.