Comparing Lang's Post-War Dystopian Novel '1984'

Decent Essays
In exploring the textual concerns of both Lang’s post-war German expressionist film Metropolis (1927) and Orwell’s cold-war dystopian novel 1984 (1949), it is apparent that their differing contexts provide starkly contrasting commentaries on the power of the human spirit to rise above oppression. The impetus for both texts reflects the immediate contextual concerns of each composer’s time, where Lang’s depiction of a futuristic mechanised world reflected Germany’s post-war climate and the incessant exploitation. However, Orwell’s post-atomic novel epitomised the Cold War and rise of Stalinism and the inherent indoctrination. Separated by an entire world war, both composers illustrate a dystopian future with entirely different outcomes as a…show more content…
Orwell’s cynical, pessimistic view is compounded in the novel’s tripartite structure which sets up an incredible dystopian reality, harshly reflecting the forms of political fundamentalism that have become commonplace in society, coinciding with the rise of Stalinism. Orwell uses an impersonal and omnipresent third person perspective to foremost illustrate the totalitarian values and panoptic vigilance within the society, where the capitalised threat “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” dramatically imparts the idea of a demagogical leader’s paranoia. Such paranoia breed insecurities which necessitate the need for indoctrination, revealing the nature of how an absolute political authoritarian regime operates in society. As a result, Orwell illustrates the necessity for indoctrination in a totalitarian society through the notion of anti-intellectualism and the destabilisation of language. The removal of the literary canon functions as a form of indoctrination through creating the inability to express oneself, leading to orthodoxy where “Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” This is compounded with the thought police, an extension of the panoptic vigilance of Big Brother parallel to the NKVD, Stalin’s secret police who acquired vast punitive powers…show more content…
Freder, the demigod’s messianic son, entitled to the unbridled German decadence and hedonism in the upper echelon of society, is unaware of the social corruption and oppression in the subterranean. This reflects the overarching effects of the Treaty of Versailles, resulting in Germany’s excess reparations and hyperinflation crippling the lower class. Upon descending to the depths, his eventual exhaustion on the machine represents the culmination of the exploitation as a result of the vanity of his own father. Freder’s realisation of the social polarity occurs through his self-sacrifice, prompting his sympathy with the dispossessed and reflecting biblical allusions and elements of Germany expressionism. The long-shot of Freder and vector lines of his arms symbolise Jesus’s crucifixion, and Freder’s condemnation “Father! Father! Will ten hours never end?” indicates the contemporary form of slavery in the subterranean world driven by capitalist greed and authoritarianism. It is this exploitation that 1984 similarly presents, yet it theorises the true threat as not social instability, but its opposite – stagnant social regression produced by the coupling of authoritarian politics with modern technology, in which reform and revolution are literally unthinkable. Freder’s revelation of the lamentable social
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