Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1997.M436 M48 2000
The chapter concerning architecture covers a large array of issues concerned with the structure of the buildings and thus their symbolic meaning for the film. The two authors discuss how that there is a mixture of architectural styles that lacks “uniformity and balance” but by putting these two side by side, it emphasizes the coexistence of two conflicting ideologies. The large buildings that make up the majority of the city landscape cannot be anything without the older, cathedral like buildings. This juxtaposition conveys the idea of technological progression. Additionally, it is this necessity of having the older buildings, like Rotwang’s place and the catacombs, and the larger, extravagant building, like the modern Tower of Babel, that makes Lang’s message of the dangers of the dehumanization quality of technology possible. The architecture in this sense is essential for the main purpose of the film to shine through.
Ginzberg, Louis. "The Tower of Babel." About.com. 18 Nov. 2008 <http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_jewslegends1d.htm#_ednthe%20tower%20of%20babel>.
Giving a brief history of the Tower of Babel, Louis Ginzberg highlights the important aspects of the biblical story that led to the creation of different languages. The story goes that in an act of rebellion against G-d, Nimrod agreed to build a tower of epic proportions that would reach to the heavens. It was in this hope that Nimrod and his counselors hoped to wage war with G-d himself and show their true power. As the building of the tower continued, the workers began shooting arrows into the heavens and as the cam hurtling down, they were covered in blood, seemingly confirming their belief that they are slaying those in the heavens. Upon seeing this, G-d decided to send down his angels and “confound their language.” This is where the origin of different languages stems from and it was this confounding of languages that denied the workers the ability to continue working on the tower because they could not understand each other.
This biblical story of the Tower of Babel plays a significant role in the interpretation of the architecture used in Metropolis. At the center of this futuristic city skyline lays a gargantuan tower that holds homage to the story of Babel. Much in the same way that Nimrod used it to defy the glory of G-d, Frederson had the building erected so that he could watch over his city, an attempt to feed to his demigod mentality. It is in this sense of revealing the psyche of the “Nimrod” of our story that Fritz’s placement of this futuristic Tower of Babel becomes crucial to the interplay of architecture of story. It is in this very sense that the viewer gets an understanding of the snobbish, elitist mentality of Frderson and how the very erection of the tower feeds to his idea of greater and lesser human beings.