Comparing And Contrasting The Dystopian Worlds Of 1984 And Metropolis

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis movie and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four novel both depict the fear of a dystopian society. Because authors are conduits for their historical periods and societies, one could say that Nineteen Eighty Four or Metropolis can be considered didactic pieces of history. This can be seen through their effective communication of aspects of life, which were especially valued by Weimer Republic Germany as well as Post-WWII England. The context inwhich both texts were constructed also influences the themes and authorial choices.

The concepts of power in both Nineteen Eighty Four as well as Metropolis examine the attitudes and values of the societies from whom the texts were derived. Metropolis, an idea conceived during the Weimar Republic in the early years of its existence, extinguishes fear of a future dystopian by creating a corporate-totalitarian regime. Germany’s shift to an empire and republic as well the change from monarchy into a presidency was accompanied by a fierce capitalistic push to increase economic profits. Joh Frederson’s absolute capitalistic control over the city is a clear example of this. Nineteen Eighty Four depicts a fear that absolute power will overthrow the city. This is evident in references to The Party and in details about the hierarchical Oceania system. These speculative postwar texts were made to comment on the political contexts in which they were placed. Nineteen Eighty Four also features a fear that absolute power will be established through the mentions of The Party as well as the details of Oceania’s hierarchical structure. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as well as George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four are a reflection of the dystopic vision that power imbalance is caused by the values and attitudes of their societies. The impact of technology on society, politics and society is a key theme in Metropolis as well as Nineteen Eighty Four. It is often used to reflect the flaws of both the societies and their technological advancements. Technology is a key theme in sci-fi. It is also prominent in Metropolis as Nineteen Eighty Four. Each text focuses on the advances in technology made by post-World War II societies. Nineteen Eighty Four politics is a reflection of this philosophy. Its slogan, “WAR IS PAPEACE”, is a reference to The Party’s belief that war requires retaliation when technology for advanced warfare is developed. The technology used in Nineteen Eighty Four to sustain the oppressive regimes and absolute power imposed by The Party is the technology used in Metropolis to improve the lives. Freder in Moloch imagines the machines devouring people. Ironically, Freder shows the real beneficiaries of city technology. The film’s final scene shows this when workers strike and the city is thrown into chaos. Orwell and Lang’s visions of technology in dystopia are filled with fear. This is especially true for technologies that cannot be controlled or may lose control. The dehumanizing surveillance of lower classes is a representation of a lack freedom and choice in both texts. This is shown in Lang’s Metropolis by the description of The Thin Man, as well as the repeated telescreens and Big Brother slogans. Nineteen Eighty Four also has institutionalised torture methods. People fear being monitored and watched in modern times because of the lack of freedom and constant surveillance by lower-class societies. Nineteen Eighty Four is a prime example of this fear. Metropolis has a more strict system, with workers afraid of losing their jobs and their lives if they are caught breaking the code of conduct. The upper classes use surveillance to control the lower classes and institutionalize the surveying of workers in Metropolis. The role of the “thought cop” is a clear example of the dehumanization and lack of freedom caused by the excessive surveillance. Orwell’s post WWII world is clear in the way he satirizes the Nazi Party and the policing that was done to thoughts not approved by the established regimes. These intertextual perspectives about dystopic futures, which are displayed in Metropolis as well as Nineteen Eighty Four, help audiences to appreciate the political and contextual contexts that prompted them to create these texts. Metropolis, Nineteen Eighty Four and other works depict the society’s fear of excessive surveillance, uncontrollable technological advancements and unbalanced power. Both texts serve as both a reminder and a source of insight from their time periods.



Kayla Russo is an educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is a 27 yo educational blogger and volunteer and student who loves to help others learn.

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