Baldwin: Classes divided in ‘Metropolis’

Published 9:38 am Friday, January 11, 2019

Welcome back my hardworking men and women of Winchester.

I hope 2019 is finding you and your loved ones, healthy, happy and excited to tackle 2019 and make it yours.

Gainful employment is vital to our livelihood because it allows us to obtain and sustain food, shelter, clothing, utilities for ourselves and loved ones under our care.

Having a steady and meaningful job is also a necessity for survival and our overall morale.

Fortunately, gainful employment is not hard for us to snag, that is if you want to work until you land your dream job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the close of December 2018, manufacturing jobs in the United States increased by 32,000 and totaling by 491,000 within the past two years.

When someone mentions manufacturing, many of us envision dangerous factories with workers exposed to hazards in dank and dire conditions that are dismal daily prison sentences for those employed. We imagine management as puppet masters, controlling the actions and lives of all their subordinates in the equivalent of an industrial product producing, profit-making prison.

Released this week in 1927, the sci-fi classic “Metropolis” addressed that message. In some employer’s facilities, it still rings true.

“Metropolis” is the tale of an efficient futuristic city divided by the white collar and blue collar working class.

The beautiful metropolis is a paradise of sorts for the rich and management to enjoy while the workers underneath the city, keep the machine going up above, so bosses can reap all the rewards of the metropolis.

The film not only addresses social classes by highlighting the terrible workers’ conditions during the postindustrial revolution but it also carries a familiar “Romeo and Juliet” vibe when the son of the city’s planner falls in love with a working-class hero who predicts the coming of a labor savior to mediate the differences. Altogether, the story is full of social commentary, propaganda and love.

“Metropolis” is a visually stunning piece of cinema packed with sets and lighting to capture the essence of German expressionism through its manipulation of shapes, lines and shadow to sell the story.

Remember hardworking hands did all the effects as this was light years before the invention of computer-generated imagery (CGI).

The masterpiece has inspired filmmakers Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton, and its visual trickery is commemorative of contemporary classics such as “Blade Runner” (1982).

Fritz Lang was direct with his anti-authorial message while going for the jugular of the system and how it mistreats the workers who are the real producers of what we have in society.

Looking at the time of its production, “Metropolis” is still an effective analysis, statement and international sociological study on the history of the classes divided through capitalism (assembly lines) or socialism (Karl Marx encouraged class warfare).

Needless to say, “Metropolis” is a must see by all of the fans of sci-fi or if you are a student of the plutocracy vs. labor theory.

Have a film-tastic day!

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.