A couple of years ago, I was surfing social media and I ran into an post advertising the Showing of the epic silent film “Metropolis” at the ARCADA theater in St. Charles Illinois. Having lived not too far from St. Charles at one time I was slight familiar with the ARCADA and the surrounding area.
The ARCADA is located on Main street in St. Charles in a the heart of St. Charles historic district, which is located on the banks of the Fox River. The old downtown is very quaint and the street is filled with older buildings and very personable businesses. The Arcada is a beautiful living relic, and an in tact example of past theaters. Its 1920’s art-deco walls and ceilings are magnificent. The Arcada has a music pit with a monsterous pipe organ which they used to accompany Metropolis with music. Metropolis was a silent film which was far ahead of its time and has been recognized as such in recent times.
After I viewed the movie, I realized that Fritz Lang’s masterpiece was a reflection of our current times. It s a story of people are are subjected to the powers of the times in which they live and their great dreams and desires to break out and to be free It is the story of how technology can turn into a technocratic form of powerful governance.
At the center of the story is the robot, Maria. Who takes on a very human form as she impersonates a young female prophet of the same name . She then becomes the technological Eve from the biblical story of the garden of Eden. Maria false Maria leads many astray.
The following synopsis was found on wikipedia
In the future, in the city of Metropolis, wealthy industrialists and business magnates and their top employees reign from high-rise towers, while underground-dwelling workers toil to operate the great machines that power the city. Joh Fredersen is the city’s master. His son Freder idles away his time at sports and in a pleasure garden, but is interrupted by the arrival of a young woman named Maria, who has brought a group of workers’ children to witness the lifestyle of their rich “brothers”. Maria and the children are ushered away, but Freder, fascinated, goes to the lower levels to find her. On the machine levels he witnesses the explosion of a huge machine that kills and injures numerous workers. Freder has a hallucination that the machine is Moloch and the workers are being fed to it. When the hallucination ends and he sees the dead workers being carried away on stretchers, he hurries to tell his father about the accident; Fredersen asks his assistant, Josaphat, why he learned of the explosion from his son, and not from him.
Grot, foreman of the Heart Machine, brings Fredersen secret maps found on the dead workers. Fredersen again asks Josaphat why he did not learn of the maps from him, and fires him. After seeing his father’s cold indifference towards the harsh conditions they face, Freder secretly rebels against him by deciding to help the workers. He enlists Josaphat’s assistance and returns to the machine halls, where he trades places with a worker.
Fredersen takes the maps to the inventor Rotwang to learn their meaning. Rotwang had been in love with a woman named Hel, who left him to marry Fredersen and later died giving birth to Freder. Rotwang shows Fredersen a robot he has built to “resurrect” Hel. The maps show a network of catacombs beneath Metropolis, and the two men go to investigate. They eavesdrop on a gathering of workers, including Freder. Maria addresses them, prophesying the arrival of a mediator who can bring the working and ruling classes together. Freder believes he could fill the role and declares his love for Maria. Fredersen orders Rotwang to give Maria’s likeness to the robot so that it can ruin her reputation among the workers to prevent any rebellion. Fredersen is unaware that Rotwang plans to use the robot to kill Freder and take over Metropolis. Rotwang kidnaps Maria, transfers her likeness to the robot and sends her to Fredersen. Freder finds the two embracing and, believing it is the real Maria, falls into a prolonged delirium. Intercut with his hallucinations, the false Maria unleashes chaos throughout Metropolis, driving men to murder and stirring dissent among the workers.
Freder recovers and returns to the catacombs. Finding the false Maria urging the workers to rise up and destroy the machines, Freder accuses her of not being the real Maria. The workers follow the false Maria from their city to the machine rooms, leaving their children behind. They destroy the Heart Machine, which causes the workers’ city below to flood. The real Maria, having escaped from Rotwang’s house, rescues the children with Freder’s and Josaphat’s help. Grot berates the celebrating workers for abandoning their children in the flooded city. Believing their children to be dead, the hysterical workers capture the false Maria and burn her at the stake. A horrified Freder watches, not understanding the deception until the fire reveals her to be a robot. Rotwang is delusional, seeing the real Maria as his lost Hel, and chases her to the roof of the cathedral, pursued by Freder. The two men fight as Fredersen and the workers watch from the street. Rotwang falls to his death. Freder fulfills his role as mediator by linking the hands of Fredersen and Grot to bring them together.