Final Exam


GER 259

The early 20th century produced countless numbers of famous novels, dramas, and

films which are still critically studied in many different classrooms around the world

today. I will be critically focusing on the two films that were presented in our class this

term; Metropolis and Pandora’s Box. In addition to these films I will use numerous

background texts from this term to further solidify my argument. The empowerment of

women, sexuality, class struggles and morality are critical issues that will explain the

issues of modernism and corruption of this time period.

Historically, men have been put into a class above women. They were generally

thought of as being smarter and more prepared to deal with problems. Women were

looked upon as being weak, and only capable of doing household duties and taking care

of children. Only in the last fifty years has America and other parts of the world began a

positive movement towards treating women as equals to men. However, Metropolis and

Pandora’s Box were produced during the time when women did not have equal roles.

Therefore, the dominating male characters in each film, Schon & Mr. Frederson fear the

empowerment of the two women Maria and Lulu. This is evident in the film Metropolis

when Mr. Frederson is visiting with the inventor Rotwang in a balcony that oversees

where the workers have gathered after work. If one pays close attention they will notice

that Mr. Frederson’s facial expression changes negatively at that moment. Why? Because

Mr. Frederson can see the kind of power that Maria exerts onto his workers. He is jealous

because they respect her presence more than his. He will not tolerate a women being

more powerful than him; so he hires Rotwang to kidnap Maria and replace her with a

robot that will send his message to the workers instead of Maria’s.

The fear of the empowerment of women is also evident in the film Pandora’s Box

which features the Father and his mistress Lulu. The scene that best exemplifies this is

right after the Father has tried to break off his relationship with Lulu and she commits to

doing a trapeze act with the circus man Rodrigo. She is to be the star attraction of the

trapeze act. But, Schon doesn’t approve of this role because of the lack of power and

control that he would have over her because it isn’t his show. So what does he do? He

tells his son to offer Lulu the leading part in his major production. In doing this he shifts

the power and control away from her hands and into his. He wants to be the driving force

behind her success so that he gets recognition not her. The fear of the empowerment of

women was also displayed to us earlier in the term when we dealt with Sonia and The

Nameless One in “Masses and Man”. Sonia wanted to lead a non violent protest against

the state while the Nameless One wanted to ignite a violent revolution. Sonia presented

her ideas and utopian vision to the masses but she was immediately shot down by the

Nameless One who told the masses not to listen to her. The Nameless One did not want a

woman with non violent implications to lead the protest. He wanted all the power and


Another critical topic that must be mentioned when one is talking about the early

20th century and modernism is the approach to sexuality. Pandora’s Box was perhaps the

most erotic film of its time and the main character Lulu represents sexuality to the fullest.

She is seen as the perfect projection of male desire. Her great beauty and inner glory are

what create a utopian like image for the audience. Basically every man that she

encounters in the film wants to have sexual relations with her because of her free loving

spirit towards men. She is a vibrant package of flirtation and sex appeal that cannot go

unnoticed by any male. There is a distinct reason why Schon asks Lulu to be the star of

his production. He has a sexual need for her that must be fulfilled but cannot because he

doesn’t want to be with her anymore. So instead of having