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Over the nine decades since its cinematic release in 1927, foretelling the bureaucratic totalitarianism of German National Socialism, the soviet gulag, the death and labour camps, and the birth of anarcho-capitalism, Fritz Lang’s dystopian science fiction masterpiece Metropolis has continued to shape our conceptions of the future. Yet, like all good science fiction, it serves also as a timeless commentary on the unfolding social, economic, and political realities of our present.

Lang’s Expressionist nightmare, while essentially interrogating the aspirations of Weimar Germany (1918-33), is set a century into the future. As Orwell would do twenty years later in 1984, Metropolis envisages a world enthralled to a machine; a despotic system of oppression built on the arrogation of power and wealth to the few and the enslavement of the many. The film opens with a description of two coexisting realities. “In the depths,” locked in a subterranean industrial complex, are the workers who are enslaved, even crucified, to the drudgery of the clock. We are shown the machine through the eyes of Freder, the hero of the tale, for what it truly is – a temple of human sacrifice.

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iScot Magazine September The one with Theresa May as the Robot in Fritz Lang's 1929 classic film - METROPOLIS