Metropolis, by Fritz Lang and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley Essay example

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The idea of progress being inspired by the past is revisited in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.
Though the film's titular city is a gleaming landscape of technological advancement it is through the hands of the arcane inventor Rotwang that the film's most stunning creation comes into being. Like Frankenstein revisiting “outdated” natural philosphers for his inspiration, Joh Frederson, the figurehead of Metropolis and the man to whom technology means the most, turns to the aged inventor in hopes of pushing technology even further. The visit to Rotwang is like a visit to the past: his house is the only edifice we see that is in no way modern (in fact it has such a clapboard appearance when held against the rest of Metropolis that ir …show more content…

When held up to the monster in Shelley's novel, Rotwang's creation serves as an indication of how far the technology in Metropolis has come. Though the basic premise of the two scenarios is the same, namely the cobbling together of a being and its homuncular bringing to life, Rotwang's creation is a much colder affair. Whereas Frankenstein built his monster from human remains, dabbling “among the unhallowed damps of the grave” and collecting “bones from charnel-houses” (Shelley, p. 62), Rotwang's creation is made entirely of cold metal, it is a being of bronze and bolts. There is no room in Lang's vision of technology gone awry for even the barest hint of human involvement. Everything is cold, mechanical, and calculated. Even the workers, the lowest citizens on the societal totem and the only human contact the machinery necessitates is at risk of being forced from their jobs by Rotwang's metallic creation. If technology and progress are expressed by a metaphysical quandary in Shelley's novel then in Lang's film it is entirely mechanical. Humanity comes second to the technology that allows

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